Nora Dominick ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Last season, FOX struggled in the ratings with some its newer series. New drama Sleepy Hollow and veteran series Bones and The Following all provided solid ratings for the network. This season FOX may have another hit with Red Band Society.
This comedy-drama focuses on the pediatrics ward of Ocean Park Hospital in Los Angeles. The show follows a group of rebellious children who live in the hospital and are dealing with long-term illnesses. Charlie (Griffin Gluck), a twelve-year old boy who is currently in a coma, narrates and introduces us to the group of unlikely friends living in the pediatrics wing. Jordi (Nolan Sotillo) has recently been admitted to the hospital in search of treatment. He soon discovers his illness will not only affect him but his new group of friends. Also living at Ocean Park Hospital is Leo (Charlie Rowe), the deemed “leader” of the group, Leo’s best friend Dash (Astro) and Leo’s on again off again girlfriend Emma (Ciara Bravo). Rounding out the group is Kara (Zoe Levin), the “mean girl” who shares a room with Charlie and was recently been admitted after collapsing at cheer practice.
Although the children are the central characters of the show, the pediatrics nurse, Nurse Jackson (Octavia Spencer) provides moral support and tough love. Also, the resident doctor, Dr. Jack McAndrew (Dave Annable) is the down to earth father figure in the children’s lives.
The pilot episode opens with Kara at school being the typical “mean girl” cheerleader. She runs the cheer squad and has exiled all of her friends. When she suddenly collapses and is rushed to the emergency room, she is introduced to the world of Ocean Park Hospital.
Jordi begins the episode by coming to Ocean Park and seeking Dr. McAndrew in order to receive surgery for his cancer. Leo is dealing with living in the hospital and seeing his current ex-girlfriend Emma during their school sessions as Dash tries to seduce the new nurse in the pediatric ward. “The Red Band Society” eventually comes together the night before Jordi’s big surgery. As Leo sits on the roof surrounded by his friends, he decides to give each of them a red hospital band from each of his major surgeries.
As the episode progresses, Kara discovering that she is going into heart failure and must remain at the hospital. While unconscious, Charlie comes to her and tells her to find his dad and tell him “It wasn’t his fault.” The pilot ends with Jordi being prepped for his surgery and Kara getting used to life as a patient.
At the beginning of the pilot, I think there were too many story lines happening at once. Between being introduced to the main characters and how the hospital functions, the numerous storylines proved to be confusing at times. The pilot begins to pick up towards the middle of the episode when all of the children come together and form one coherent story line, which was much better. I would have like to have seen Annable and Spencer’s characters more throughout the pilot. I think they will provide an interesting dynamic between the children and the adults of the hospital in later episodes.
The pilot provided a solid introduction to all the major characters on the show as well as began the overarching story for the first several episodes. Not only do we meet the main characters, we are also introduced to several minor characters. The minor characters such as Nick (Thomas Ian Nicholas), a guitar player who visits Charlie often, Ruben García (Griffin Dunne), a hypochondriac that befriends Leo and Dash, and Nurse Kenji (Wilson Cruz) provide moments of drama and comic relief throughout the pilot. With a large main cast, the recurring characters create a nice balance of the world outside the pediatrics ward.
I think Red Band Society could take cues from successful ensemble television shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scrubs. Each of those shows has created perfect multi-story episodes. This show has great potential however, I would like to see how the children progress and how the adults in the hospital grow to have a more important role.
Red Band Society airs Wednesdays at 9/10pm
Overall Grade: B+