Tv Review: Carol’s Second Act Season 1 Episodes 1 and 2

carols second act index

Patricia Heaton’s a sitcom stalwart after two long runs on Everybody Loves Raymond and The Middle (and shorter stints on shows like Back To You, Women Of The House and Room For Two) so by this point in her career is a more than competent, confident lead and that shows in this latest sitcom where she stars as a perky, excitable Doctor which feels like a complete character from the moment she appears on screen. Unfortunately this CBS show isn’t as interesting as The Middle or as funny as Everybody Loves Raymond, which is a bit of a problem given that the latter show was a very middling affair which hasn’t aged well.

It’s yet another hospital based sitcom too, with a distinctly mainstream and bland feel to it which makes Scrubs seem revolutionary and exciting in comparison (well, bar the awful “Next Generation” season 9, it’s not that poor at least). The twist on this very overused set up is that after having been a high school teacher for decades when Carol Kenney’s husband cheated on her she divorced him, and decided to begin a second career in medicine. It doesn’t make us witness all of her years in med school (though that might have made it plausibly a bit better than what we actually get here) and instead we join the action on her first day as an intern.

The fact that she’s older than all of the other interns is a running gag which is dragged in to the ground during these first two episodes, with the other interns presuming that she’s the Chief Resident and the patients presuming an experienced Doctor is treating them when she hasn’t even killed her first patient yet. Because of her age / attitude she has a frosty relationship with the actual Chief Resident, Doctor Jacobs (Ito Aghayere) which isn’t helped by her treating another intern’s patient in the debut episode, but because this is saccharine stuff by the end Doctor Jacobs has warmed to her after seeing her tell someone they have a serious illness. And then in the second episode that’s all forgotten about, because why bother with continuity and character growth in this kind of nonsense, eh?

I’ve perhaps been a little harsh on the show so far and the second episode is an improvement, Kyle Maclachlan’s a regular on the show in the form of Doctor Stephen Frost, a senior attending doctor who’s often quite playful and silly, intern Lexie (Sabrina Jalees) is gay and they have some cute jokes about how the hospital exploits this with her moaning that there’s “already seven pictures of her on the website”, and the ridiculously cute and fit male intern (Jean-Luc Bilodeau) is mocked effectively for once.

But on the downside the set up is fairly similar to that of the first episode with Carol being over confident and annoying Doctor Jacobs, and hey, it turns out that in the end she was right all along once again. There’s a subplot with Nurse Dennis (Reno 911! and Speechless’s Cedric Yarbrough) which wastes the talented comedic actor by making him all surly (at least until the final 30 seconds), while another subplot featuring the fit male intern travels from A to B without going anywhere even vaguely original.

It’s by no means awful, but it’s yet another network sitcom which does very little of interest with it’s concept, and which is extremely detached from reality. Unless you’re a fan of very average, easy to watch sitcoms where you’ve probably seen all the plot beats and the majority of the jokes before (which a lot of people are, admittedly) it’s not going to be something which will excite or intrigue, which is a real shame as a cast as great as this one really do deserve better material than this.

Alex Finch.
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