Thursday, September 26, 2019

REVIEW: 'Carol's Second Act' - Carol and the Other Interns Begin Their First Shift at the Hospital in 'Pilot'

CBS' Carol's Second Act - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Carol Kenney enthusiastically begins her first day as an internal medicine intern, but has a rocky start when she disregards direct orders from her boss in order to help a patient. Also, Carol meets Dr. Frost, a senior attending physician who may be the ally Carol needs in her second act.

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' Carol's Second Act.

"Pilot" was written by Sarah Haskins & Emily Halpern and directed by Pamela Fryman

This premiere wants the audience to know that Dr. Carol Kenney is old. It is really overbearing with that fact. It's the sole source of intrigue in this first half-hour. Everything that happens here mostly revolves around the differences between the generations especially as it pertains to Carol starting a new career. She feels inspired as a doctor. She is happy to start her first day at the hospital. And yet, the action continually points out that she is old enough to be mistaken as the mother of her fellow interns and as the mature physician who can answer any questions the patients or their families might have. And yes, her age does provide her with a fresh and unique perspective on life. She knows how to draw on her personal experience in order to deliver bad news. Of course, her past is mostly used as a punchline here. She is still fairly plucky about it. However, it's a rather annoying way to deliver exposition as well. It's clear-cut and immediate though. That allows the show to quickly move into the first shift for the interns as they adjust to the demands of this new job. It will be just as crucial to depict Carol as more than just the maternal figure of the group as well. She does provide that emotional support for her new colleagues. She extends it to her patients too but that is a significant part of this job. It's not the only new responsibility she has though. She embarked on this career change as a way to grab ahold of her life again after she locked herself down on one path at a young age. Her marriage fell apart but her life is significantly better than her ex-husband's. Plus, she has the full support of her daughter who also will have a presence at the hospital. The comedic situations are a little familiar and trite. However, there is the sense that the show can offer more emotional gravity if it delves fully into what it means to be in a hospital. Sure, there can be shenanigans and hijacks. But it's also a life-changing place where people in their times of need desperately want the help only these doctors and nurses can provide. That is a vital service. One that Carol is inspired to offer fully. She is there for the patient when Daniel doesn't know what to say. The diagnosis isn't great but Carol still wants to offer a sense of hope. That's when she has everything together and proves herself as a valuable member of this community. Up until that point, the show makes it seem like she is simply flailing around not knowing what to do and flagrantly disobeying orders. She does that to an extreme extent just for the show to generate a couple of outrageous laughs in the early going. At one point, it may be laughter at her expense as she is a woman who has fallen in the shower and cannot get up. That shouldn't be the thing that defines her in the hospital. It sadly will though. That's how Dr. Frost knows about her when they meet for the first time in the cafeteria. He says it helps bring a certain spark of excitement to the workplace. But that may mostly be about the show positioning them as colleagues who may eventually develop into something more. That's all that Kyle MacLachlan really gets to do here. He's the light-hearted attending who points out that Caleb comes from a privileged upbringing. That too is significant. The show should steer into the elements of life that divide its main characters. It shouldn't just be a conversation about the generational differences. That may be the core focus in the early going through. This is a game cast of comedy veterans who may make something work eventually. Right now though, it just seems a little forced and broad while embracing character relationships that seem overly familiar for fans of this specific genre.