Monday, September 23, 2019

REVIEW: 'Bob Hearts Abishola' - Following a Heart Attack, Bob Becomes Enamored with His Nurse in 'Pilot'

CBS' Bob Hearts Abishola - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Bob, a middle-aged compression-sock businessman from Detroit, unexpectedly falls for his cardiac nurse, Abishola, a Nigerian immigrant, while recovering from a heart attack and sets his sights on winning her over.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of CBS' Bob Hearts Abishola.

"Pilot" was written by Chuck Lorre, Eddie Gorodetsky, Al Higgins & Gina Yashere and directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller

Abishola presents with a much fuller life than Bob does. The series immediately showcases a man who becomes infatuated with a woman right after having surgery due to a heart attack. It does present as a time for him to reflect on the life he has lived and if he should make any changes to it. However, this premiere mostly showcases a man who becomes solely focused on Abishola. It consumes his thoughts in a major way. Yes, Bob is seen at work with his family. He is annoyed with the Asian markets where his compression socks are being made. He feels like he is being kicked out of the marketplace by larger and more lucrative companies. Sure, it's impressive that he can speak Mandarin. That shows that he is a man of the world who knows how to cut deals that benefit his business. He seems like the stable person in the family as well. And yet, his family mostly comes across as broad character tropes. There isn't a whole lot for Christine Ebersole, Matt Jones and Maribeth Monroe to do here. That's disappointing. But it also highlights how the show has a lot of plot it needs to establish as well as a lot of characters for this world. The priority is with the environment at the hospital and in Abishola's private life. That's not a bad decision right away. Abishola is the more original character of the piece. The show needs to present a reason for why the audience should buy into the connection between Bob and Abishola. Right off the bat, it comes across as nothing more than stalking. That is a significant problem. Bob keeps showing up at the hospital and even Abishola's home. That can be unsettling. Her aunt Olu even notes that a white man at the door is always bad news. Abishola's family is immediately confused as to why Bob would be bringing her socks. It's clear that he wants something more from this dynamic but she is mostly just impressed by the socks. When he returns, that's all that she really wants from him. In fact, her friends and family agree that he makes a good sock. There is a reason to view him as a successful businessman who should be proud of his product. But that's not all that the storytelling is hoping to achieve. It wants to showcase a world in which romance can blossom between the two leads. They may come from different worlds but the connection between them is powerful and meaningful in the hospital. Bob feels like a new man when he is interacting with Abishola. He fantasizes about her instead of dealing with his crazy family. He would much rather have them believe he is dead than return to the life he has been living. Sure, that is an insane plot as well. It's not really expanded upon either. Again, that's because the show rightfully shifts the focus onto Abishola to show that she has a full world and doesn't want to put up with these constant invasions by Bob. She has life-or-death responsibilities at the hospital. She has to inform the family when a patient dies. That's not the appropriate time for Bob to be making another move on her. She has to run down to the school to deal with her son after he is suspended for getting into a fight. She has a lot going on while Bob seemingly has the free time to constantly appear in her life. The show laughing at these stalker impulses doesn't quite make it okay though. Gloria sold out her co-worker not knowing if Bob was dangerous. She is glad her friend is alive but it shouldn't be that easy to manipulate the system. Things work out for Bob though despite how out-of-touch he may be with Abishola's world. And yet, people are pleased with him because of the socks he delivers. That simple detail may open this world up so that more can happen. It's just a little forced in the early going with the humor being fairly broad and ineffective.