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April 22, 2014

A bipolar doctor probes the brain on 'Black Box'

NEW YORK (AP) — 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 Thursday at 10 p.m. EDT 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.

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