EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Lifestyle

April 24, 2014

'Black Box'

Gives viewers a dose of mental illness - and an alternate perspective on addiction

ABC’s brainy new medical drama “Black Box” does a neat trick: It dares viewers to imagine for themselves the cost-benefit ratio of addiction and does it without taking a firm stand.

It does it in the person of lovely, top-of-her-field Dr. Catherine Black, known as “the Marco Polo of the Brain,” who helps patients navigate a range of neurological disorders.

She also secretly wrestles with one of her own: She’s bipolar.

Meanwhile, she’s addicted to the mind-expanding, sometimes rapturous but ultimately dangerous effects of skipping the meds that keep her “normalized,” and letting her condition run full tilt.

“This show is not a generic examination of bipolarity — not at all,” says series star Kelly Reilly. “This is about one woman who is an addict to her disease. The disease is treatable. But it calls for a lifetime of commitment and rearranging medications to see what works and what doesn’t work — and fighting the battle of deciding whether or not you want to take them.”

Premiering tonight at 10 p.m. on ABC, “Black Box” pulls a 180 on the plague of addiction: Catherine Black must Just Say Yes to the drugs that will keep this wild child tamed. Yet sometimes she just can’t. Or won’t.

She is played by the English-born Reilly, who co-starred with Denzel Washington in the film “Flight,” appeared in the two “Sherlock Holmes” films headlined by Robert Downey Jr., and starred in “Above Suspicion,” a British TV crime drama.

One recent day on Stage B at New York’s Silvercup Studios, Reilly met with a reporter in her character’s office in the tony Neuroscience Research and Treatment Center, aka The Cube, where Black and her colleagues probe the brain’s mysteries.

The show also stars Terry Kinney as the NRTC chief of staff, Ditch Davey as a womanizing neurosurgeon on the team, David Ajala as Catherine’s restaurateur boyfriend and Vanessa Redgrave as Catherine’s shrink.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Lifestyle

Photos of the Week