The Wall Street Journal: September 11, 2014
A DIFFERENT BAND OF BROTHERS
I shrank from watching “Red Band Society” for the se reason that the recent movie about mortally ill young people, “The Fault in Our Stars,” didn’t sound appealing. But the new Fox show seems to be that increasingly elusive thing on television, an exhilarating burst of fresh airÑeven if that air is coming from the general direction of a children’s cancer ward.
The “Red Band” of the title is not just a reference to the plastic wristlets affixed to hospital patients. It was inspired by “The Yellow World,” a book by Albert Espinosa, whose childhood cancer put him in the hospital for much of the time over 14 years. The TV show is most of all about the bonding that takes place ong any group of people who face a challenge togetherÑwhether they be a band of brothers in combat or teenagers hospitalized for life-threatening illnesses.
In a promo clip for the show, executive producer Steven Spielberg refers to it as a “teen soap,” which is apt, as far as it goes. Executive producer Margaret Nagle describes it as “‘The Breakfast Club’ in a hospital.” If that is the worst thing that can be said about “Red Band,” and so far it seems to be, then a lot of people can enjoy it.
The pilot introduces some core characters, beginning with little Charlie (Griffin Gluck), who supplies scene-setting narration and some background on his fellow patients. The young men include cancer patients Leo (Charlie Rowe, who makes hairless handsome), Jordi (Nolan Sotillo, about whom more later) and Dash (who acts under the ne Astro). Dash has cystic fibrosis and is waiting for a lung transplant. When he isn’t hustling nurses and planning parties he lingers in the emergency room carrying a copy of “Twilight,” hoping that people waiting there to hear the fate of loved ones might assume from Dash’s reading habits that he’s a wonderful person and thus worthy of an organ donation.