Thursday, October 3, 2019

REVIEW: 'Carol's Second Act' - Carol Advocates for Her Patient but Creates Tension with Maya in 'You Give Me Fever'

CBS' Carol's Second Act - Episode 1.02 "You Give Me Fever"

When Carol treats an elderly patient with a fever, Mrs. Zahn, and her tests are inconclusive, Carol must find a way to work around Dr. Jacobs and hospital policy to take extra time to observe her. Also, Daniel is embarrassed when his fellow interns find out that he doesn't know how to do the basic medical skill of drawing blood.

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 next episode of CBS' Carol's Second Act.

"You Give Me Fever" was written by Sarah Haskins & Emily Halpern and directed by Pamela Fryman

This episode isn't demonstrably different from the series premiere. It's still fundamentally about Carol pushing back against the rules and order of the hospital. She has operated a certain way for a long time in her life. People do look to her for a sense of authority because of her age. She uses that to her advantage from time to time too. However, that also allows for some fairly simple and hacky jokes to take place here. That defines a lot of Carol's story dealing with an elderly patient. In fact, it almost seems like the show is trying to say that she is better equipped to deal with this medical mystery because she understands this woman's plight better than anyone else. That's a thesis that doesn't bear out initially. None of the extra tests she runs actually prove that anything is going on. Instead, it's a simple over-prescribing of medication because this woman doesn't have a primary care physician. That's the conclusion this story eventually finds. It does bring Carol and Maya together to solve the case because they both ultimately have the same concerns about what may actually be going on. But it still basically revolves around Carol getting worked up into a state declaring something that she has a better handling on because of her age. And yes, it is absolutely vital to tell active and meaningful stories about long marginalized groups of people in entertainment. Older women aren't typically the leads of shows. Here, Patricia Heaton gets to be the star and executive producer. She isn't defined simply by being a wife or mother either. She has built strong comedy vehicles out of that premise already. This is her chance to do something different. She is presented as a multi-dimensional person who is allowed to be defined by her work even at her age. Her children and personal life don't have to come first. Yes, Jenny is a vital character in the proceedings as well. She helps Carol and Maya identify the various drugs that their patient is taking daily. Sure, they may not need a pharmaceutical representative to do that for them. They should have some understanding of what the prescriptions they regularly give to patients actually look like. It's mostly a way to involve Jenny in the proceedings. That's not inherently bad. She too can be defined by her work and not just being Carol's daughter. Sure, that relationship is important as well. It allows a sense of familiarity that means Carol can feel comfortable in this new environment. All of the interns are trying to seem impressive. They want the opportunities to assist with the best cases in the hospital. They want the responsibility of caring for their own patients. Their ideas aren't always the right ones though. Carol's instincts may tell her more is going on but she struggles communicating those concerns in a tangible way. She tries working the system to her benefit. It just doesn't pan out how she expects. Plus, it eventually builds to her trying to prove a point about being a marginalized person in society by being ignorant to another marginalized person in society. That feels like something that only happens in television shows. As such, it all feels a little stunted and less realistic. Sure, it's fun to watch Lexie laugh at Daniel's expense because he doesn't know how to do the basic task of drawing blood. Everyone at the hospital can delight at that. There is the video proof that everyone can witness and delight in because it's so outrageous to them. But it's also just as important to teach and ensure that everyone walks away with the knowledge of how to do this job. That is vital because it highlights how the show aspires for more than the simple laughs. It's aspiration to do so doesn't always match some of the actual writing though. So, it still feels like the show is struggling to find itself. However, that's pretty typical for a second episode of a new broadcast network comedy.