Welcome back dear friends to another Week in TV land
Kicking off with a favourite here on the site as nursing sitcom Getting On which is a programme that deserves to be seen by a lot more people than it will languishing at 10pm on BBC4. This series sees the geriatric wing shift from St. Edward’s to the newly merged St. Judes’ where Jo Brand’s Kim and Jo Scanlan’s Den are now in Ward K2 where everything is a bit more confusing. As it has done in the past Getting On demonstrates how administrative protocol has got in the way of actually treating patients however it appears that that theme will be particularly prevalent in series three as the nurses get used to their new ward. As we see throughout the episode the cleaning of the ward and the preparation of meals are both handled by private companies which results in more paperwork for the staff and confusion for the nurses. There are also some recurring gags to do with Den and Kim’s new surroundings namely the pair trying to work out how to use a remote controlled bed and the fact that there’s a room with a keypad that they just can’t get into. Vicki Pepperdine also returns as the newly divorced Pippa Moore who is now concerned with getting her vaginal study published while Ricky Grover’s Hilary Loftus is no longer the matron but instead is being employed by the hospital to monitor how efficiently the wards run. As always the show is very observational but this time each character has their own separate plot with Kim deciding to go to medical school, Den discovering she’s pregnant and Pippa going through a very messy divorce.
I think the one thing you can say about Getting On is that it is incredibly bleak because it manages to make the very new ward K2 seem haunting and unwelcoming. It’s a testament to the actresses that they are able to create three incredibly believable characters although to be fair they have written them themselves. Brand is great as Kim who always ignores guidelines and training to do what she feels at right however she also ready for a sardonic put down when needs be. I also think Kim’s story about her medical training will be good for a character who we’ve been willing to succeed for a while now. Joanna Scanlan is also superb as the better-trained Den who worries about training courses and electronic patient files however again her personal story will be one worth following. Finally Pippa Moore is a doctor who doesn’t actually like dealing with patients and you get the idea that she’d rather be working on her vaginal research than doing rounds. The dialogue is also great and there are some wonderful set pieces involving a faulty bed and Pippa’s sheets which both provide the best laughs of the episode. The only negative I can came up with is the jaunty camera-work which on the one hand allow us to view reactions from different characters but at the same time sometimes makes us feel detached from what’s going on. Overall though Getting On proves itself to be one of Britain’s best sitcoms in recent memory as it combines great acting, believable characters and observational dialogue while at the same time also providing a fair few laughs. It’s just a shame then that most people won’t get to see it unless there’s a miraculous demand for it to be shown on one of the major BBC channels however I won’t hold my breath.
Another new sitcom to grace our screens this week was Hebburn a love-letter to the Tynside home of creator and co-star Jason Cook. Hebburn stars stand-up comic Chris Ramsay as Jack a journalist who has returned from his Manchester home so that his parents can meet his girlfriend Sarah who is actually his wife after the two got married in Vegas. Jack’s home is a typical Northern abode where his maudlin grandmother and tarty sister hang out regularly while his erratic mother, played by Gina McKee, frets the entire time. Patriarch of the family Joe is played by Vic Reeves, using his real name Jim Moir therefore letting us know that he’s taking on a more serious role here. The central joke of Hebburn is that this is a world of people who are happy with their lot in life with Jack’s sister Vicki happy to hang out in the local pub with her mate Denise while club singer Gervaise serenades her in an attempt to win her back. It also appears as if Sarah and Jack will have to stay in Hebburn to help Joe prepare the house for Grandma Dot’s arrival as she is moving out of the retirement home after costs get too high. This is partly because Joe is suffering from heart problems and has to rely on his son to do some of the heavy lifting he is no longer able to do by himself. Personally I found Hebburn to be an enjoyable if a little dated with its message essentially being ‘you can’t choose your family’ as Jack is forced to return to an area that he worked very hard to leave behind him. For me Gina McKee is the star of the show as the fussy mother as she hastily prepares bagels after learning that Sarah is Jewish while Vic Reeves is also great as playing the straight character here. The main issue was, for the moment at least, the supporting characters don’t feel very fleshed out while I feel Fresh Meat’s Kimberly Nixon is a little wasted as the seemingly dull Sarah. Overall Hebburn is a gentle sitcom which won’t set the world on fire but provides a few chuckles and is generally quite likeable.
From the world of comedy we turn to witching drama Switch which features Lacey Turner in another supernatural role following her appearances in Being Human and Bedlam. Turner’s Stella is the focus of this first episode after she accidentally microwaves her boss’ cat and has to reunite her coven to perform a reversal spell so she won’t be fired. However Stella’s boss witnesses the event so the witches decide to erase her memory but this time go too far and end up taking twenty years away from her which makes her act like a giddy teenager. Then there’s Jude who also abuses her power by making her new sexy co-worker fall in love with her with the two engaging in bouts of very loud love-making. However when they finally sit down to have a conversation she realises that she’s essentially turned a gay man straight and therefore reverses her spell so that her gay best friend can have a chance with the hunk instead. The other members of the ‘Witches of Camden’ coven are Hannah, who goes on a trip at the beginning of the episode as well as Grace who is the only one of the four to be from a traditional witching family. Though it appears as if Grace has a new man on the scene she is preoccupied by her domineering mother, played brilliantly by Caroline Quentin, who believes that her daughter is better than the other members of her coven. To me the most confusing thing about Switch is who it’s actually aimed at as there’s a confusing mixture of tone between messages for young teenage girls and content that can only be seen past the watershed. I do feel that there is a market for a British Charmed with the lessons learnt here such as stand up for yourself and don’t abuse your power appealing to a younger market. At the same time though there is a lot of unnecessary swearing and plenty of scenes of a sexual nature which alienates the teen crowd but at the same time I don’t think this is heavy enough for a more adult audience. While Switch isn’t totally without merit, I did particularly enjoy Quentin’s performance, I ultimately found it to be a bit of a mess and believe that Turner quickly needs a successful TV show or she’ll just be another ex-Eastender who didn’t quite make it outside the soap.
Finally this week a brief word on the final episode of Good Cop which aired on Saturday night after being pulled last month after the tragic death of two female police officers. It is now quite obvious why the finale of Stephen Buchard’s gripping drama was postponed as the character of Amanda was brutally attacked after being part of a honey trap scheme to entrap a man who had been targeting female students. Obviously the main story still focused on Sav attempting to cover up his tracks while at the same time kill JonJo Heinz the only remaining member of the gang who beat Andy to death. To me there was elements of a second series here as we learnt that Stephen Graham’s Noel Finch may not have been the top of the ladder and that a shady Mr Big character may be controlling things and if that’s the case then it is quite plausible that he’d want Sav dead. Also this episode we saw Cassandra finally agree to meet with Sav who tells her that he wants to tell his dad that he has a granddaughter however he believes that he isn’t good enough for his former girlfriend. Obviously the series ended on an ambiguous note with Sav committing his first unjustified murder as he once again attempted to handle matters himself. I’ve personally found Good Cop to be gripping from beginning to end with great performances from Warren Brown and Aisling Loftus throughout. I’m just hoping that the postponement of this final episode doesn’t scupper its chances of getting a second series as I think that’s what fans of the show ultimately deserve.
Next Time: Arrow and Elementary