Friday, September 19, 2014

Review: Red Band Society Pilot

I get that I'm, what, three days late with this one and you've probably read every review you were gonna read on this show anyway, but now that I've watched the thing a bunch of times (....yes, like four times now. Shut up.), I feel like I still have things to say, naggy things that won't leave me alone.

And let me just say that I like it before I get into the nit-picking. There aren't enough disabled characters that are nuanced and not just there to make the main character feel better about himself. And although I'm a little upset that actual actors with disabilities are not playing these characters, (representation matters!) I'm happy that a story about kids like this is being made at all. And the afflictions really run the gambit. It's not just a "kids with cancer" story. Which it shouldn't be. 

And there really is crack casting all the way through this sucker. Yes, Yes, blah-blah-blah-Octavia Spencer kicking but and taking names-cakes. She is as advertised and she is a perfect composite of hard-assed nurse with a heart of gold that I have ever met, and I've met several. And can I just say how happy I am that Griffin Dunne is slowly morphing into Harry Dean Stanton. Maybe every generation will have a person that slowly morphs into him so that we'll have a Harry Dean Stanton forever. Because he's a national treasure and we need him to live on for the generations (Okay, I have no idea where that came from).

But there were two pieces of casting that made my girl-of-the-90s heart sing. For starters, Thomas Ian Nicholas.The second I saw him I suddenly reverted to the version of me that saw Rookie of the Year for the first time and swooned, just a little. Although You do not know how hard I laughed when Thomas Ian Nicholas was the guy who bought them all beer. I don't know if it was meant to be some American Pie call-back but I took as such. I also can't wait to see how his role will develop.

But the absolute best casting was Wilson Cruz. I did not know how much I missed him on my TV until he came back. He is my everything and I will be returning to this show just to make sure he has a job. And yes, I could count the number of lines he had in this episode on both my hands. But with Wilson Cruz even small amounts is awesome Wilson Cruz.

But there's a lot of incongruities that just didn't track for me in the pilot. And I'm not saying a TV show is going to get every beat right when it comes to hospital life, but there's so much that it got wrong that it just bugged. There's so much that bugged that I'm not even sure where to start. I could go with Leo's eyebrows and how disconcerting it is that a kid on active chemo who lost all his hair could still have bushy eyebrows that are subscribing to some sort of 'Peter Gallagher Eyebrows of awesomess' regimen for some reason. Why couldn't they just go all the way with it? Cancer patients lose or thin out their eyebrows too. Why can't you show that?

And the sped up timeline with which everything took place bugged me too. Are you telling me that within the course, of what, a few hours Kara would just get a room? And by the end of the same day they have a diagnosis for her? Just like that? "Oh did the EKG, MRI, ultrasound and nuclear test all in the same day and we got these results. Wow, we're efficient." Yeah, like that happens. Honestly, I would've loved to seen her driven crazy by the the hurry-up and wait of the ER. She would've tried to eviscerate someone there. And the other thing about Kara is that the doctor and parents just talked about Kara's condition in the middle of the foyer so that she could overhear. Blah-blah-blah-HPAA-privacy-regulations-blah, more blah-blah-blah about Every hospital's patient's bill of rights is different but there is generally a clause that the patient has a right to know everything about their diagnosis and treatment. And I know these sort of hallway conversations do happen all the time, but it just felt like a plot point and not what would really happen.

And the less said about Jordi being admitted to the hospital and going into surgery the next day. Are you actually telling me that he didn't have to go through a bevy of scans and tests before he gets the magic surgery of life-savingness? Yeah, no can't buy it.

And, okay last bitch session, so what Leo had one class in the morning but somehow had the rest of the day to find out he was getting a new roommate, get in a lunch with a hypochondriac and take a plastic surgeon's car for a joy ride? Last I checked, classes at a hospital are still pretty regimented and longer-ish? Every high schooler now all the sudden wants to live in a hospital so that they only have to read Henry the V for an hour and can spend the rest of the day doing whatever the hell they want.

And I know I should shut up and stop bitching about it not hitting every note of real life hospital stays. So I'm gonna stop and say that I co-sign this show because the coma boy used farts as revenge and Dash fakes a wheezing episode and I laughed my ass off at that. It won me over despite it's obvious misrepresentations into parts of hospital life. I'm willing to give this show a solid shot. Grade: A solid B.

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