Usually when I write about something I’ve watched because of someone connected, I put that in the post’s title. This time the TV series ended up having so much merit of its own that I’m as much about the whole series as who is in it.

As I’ve covered before, the stunningly talented Vanessa Redgrave is my favorite actress and I watch as much of her work as I can. Sometimes when I’m super busy, her projects escape my notice. That almost happened with Black Box. Fortunately, I saw a promo while watching ABC and set my DVR to record it.

To he honest I was a bit put off by the promo. It didn’t make clear what the show was about, and made it seem like a wild, sexed up story about some vague doctor. Or something. With a weird, unfathomable title. (This is the promo I wish I’d seen) Other than knowing I was going to keep watching it simply because Vanessa Redgrave is in it, I didn’t see much to encourage me, since it didn’t veer far from the promo hype early on. Except for one thing. It explained in the first episode that neuroscientists call the human brain the Black Box, because so little is still known about it. There it was at last. The hook that kept me from fast forwarding through everything except Vanessa Redgrave’s all too brief parts.

Viewers are overall a great deal more intelligent than many people in charge of feeding us our constant stream of entertainment seem aware of. Over the course of the 13 episodes of Black Box, I became a devoted fan. I had let episodes back up on my DVR, because I dreaded watching it after that promo and just one episode. When I finally started in earnest, I watched episode after episode to the tune of nine in a row.

What a deep, rich, intelligent, and fascinating series it turned out to be. As I came to understand what the bipolar main character was dealing with, I became sympathetic. Her life was fraught with problems most of us don’t even realize exist in the world around us. How lucky we are!

In addition to the more personal stories of the characters, viewers were treated to watching the amazing duet of neuroscience and neurosurgery. I’ve always liked medical dramas, but even greats like Chicago Hope and House didn’t fascinate me to the same extent as Black Box. Though I’ve long held a strong layman’s interest in all things medical, the cases Black Box paraded across my screen were unlike anything I’d ever heard of. I love no entertainment more than something that teaches me on a regular basis, in a way that’s enjoyable and memorable, as well as entertaining in the traditional sense.  Black Box has managed all of that.

And more, since watching Vanessa Redgrave is always such a pleasure in its own right. I’m doubly glad she was in Black Box, because otherwise I wouldn’t have given a chance to such a gem of a TV series.

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