Red Band Society ends the season strongly with a set of episodes that are each bittersweet, hopeful, and triumphant. As a whole the show has been sporadic with its narrative as well as ham-fisted and manipulative with its drama, but throughout the season there have been great moments. The very strong young cast at the series’ core has been able to push the right buttons in order to, at times, get the audience to overlook these obvious issues. As episodic as the show has been, the series memory is fairly good, with mistakes made by the characters (or more accurately, the writers) in earlier episodes addressed and factored into the resolution of those characters arcs. The final three episodes reward the audience with an ending that gives closure to the series in a way that is satisfying and both honest and optimistic.
Red Band Society’s first season has been suffering from tonal problems and narrative inconsistency throughout most of its run, but with this final episode of the year, the show was able to find a way to unify the story, as well as develop the characters in a way that felt genuine, with promise for interesting growth. After a string of episodes that have felt disjointed from one another, emotionally contrived, and at times completely ridiculous and unremarkable, the fall finale shines. The episode effectively gives the kids an emotional story, having them react to the departure of two fellow red band-ers from the hospital, with the adults handling their own plot about interoffice dating.
The first quarter of the premiere season of Red Band Society has featured some very strong character moments throughout a narrative that has been, at times, emotionally manipulative. The episodes are often inconsistent with one another, which makes this series feel more episodic than serialized. The pilot episode introduced the main cast and their situations, with the kids more developed than the adults, but as the season has progressed and the stories between the two age groups have intertwined, both sides have gained and lost character momentum respectively. The relationships frequently fail to grow organically, with the character motivations mostly hard to pin down. The questions raised in the pilot episode continue to be addressed, but to a degree that is not fully satisfying, merely confirming information that the audience already has. Although the season’s start is for the most part flawed, the most recent episodes have presented development for the overarching storyline that has potential for some interesting results.
Red Band Society began as a remake of Catalan television series called Polseres Vermelles, which is about a terminally ill group of mismatched teens that live in a pediatric ward and band together as friends. The series was picked up by Amblin Entertainment, who then developed it for American television with former Boardwalk Empire writer Margaret Nagle. As a child, Nagle had spent some time living in a pediatric ward alongside her comatose brother, which she has cited as the source of her inspiration when writing the treatment of the source material.
Several network series return this week, but the fall season starts in earnest next week. Before the premieres kick off, here are SoS TV Editor Kate Kulzick, SoS Managing TV Editor Deepayan Sengupta, and SoS contributor Randy Dankevitch’s initial impressions on the networks’ new offerings. Note: Our thoughts are based on pilots, some of which …