New show: “Red Band Society”
When: 9 p.m. Wednesdays on Fox
Cast: Octavia Spencer, Dave Annable, Charlie Rowe, Zoe Levin
Premise: The sick-but-romantic-teen genre of books and films such as “The Fault In Our Stars” and “If I Stay” comes to TV. With Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer as the no-nonsense, but caring nurse.
Confession: I was all set to roll my eyes at “Red Band Society.” Watching ailing-but-telegenic teens spout sappy inspirational quotes week after week? No thanks.
But danged if “Society” doesn’t work – way more than it should. Credit the strong cast led by Spencer (good as always) and Dave Annable (late of “Brothers & Sisters”) as the “Dr. McDreamy” stand-in. The kids in the cast more than hold their own. I particularly like Zoe Levin as the bratty cheerleader with a heart problem. (“The girl who needs a heart never really had one to begin with.”)
The writing also is clever, from the voiceover narration by a comatose boy ( Griffin Gluck) to the non-maudlin way the members of this “Hospital Breakfast Club” treat their various ailments. And yes, there are some romantic sparks, just like in “Fault.” (My 13-year-old daughter LOVED the pilot and couldn’t wait to tell all her middle-school friends to watch the show.)
Sure, you’ll have to suspend disbelief for much of this – the teen patients taking a doctor’s car for a joyride to buy beer, the hypochondriac hippie ( Griffin Dunne) smoking pot in the hospital, the fact that Spencer and Annable seem to be the only medical staff on duty.
Still, “Society” is touching, funny, surprising. Even if you’re a cheerleader with no heart, I bet you’ll be smiling by the end of the first hour.
Staff writer Thad Ogburn