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TV Review: Fox’s ‘Red Band Society’

Fox premieres Red Band Society —starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer—on Wednesday Sept. 17, 9 p.m. ET. The series is a remake of the Catalan series Polseres Vermelles. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Set in a hospital ward for teenagers with serious, long-term illnesses, its central idea (like The Breakfast Club) is that the forced togetherness forges unexpected friendships. The concept, which comes from a Spanish TV series, is a good one. The execution is not.”
—Robert Bianco, USA Today

“Promisingly, the pilot of Red Band (like Glee‘s) has a ton of voice, but its tone wobbles wildly as it overcorrects away from sentimentality and then straight into it.”
—James Poniewozik, TIME

“In terms of manipulating an audience, few things are more reliable than sick or imperiled kids. With that as a given, Fox’s Red Band Society labors to feel uplifting, not depressing, by filtering a The Breakfast Club-like erosion of high-school caste systems through the leveling effect of a potentially fatal diagnosis. Narrated by a young boy in a coma (a device somewhere between Reversal of Fortune and The Lovely Bones), the pilot doesn’t do enough to establish these archetypal characters — adults or children. And there’s cause to doubt whether the show will have the time to effectively bridge that gap.”
—Brian Lowry, Variety

“As an American entertainment — with Steven Spielberg attached as executive producer yet — it not surprisingly shies away from the mundane indignities of hospital life and the less-picturesque symptoms of disease. But if it plays havoc with the realities of medical practice, well, so did House."
—Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times

"Society is a dramedy with desperately sad underpinnings -- young adults in crisis, who have lost limbs or are facing mortal illnesses. The pilot acknowledges that, then promptly looks on the bright side by morphing into a teen TV series with all the recognizable trappings.”
—Verne Gay, Newsday