REVIEW : A shot of Gobbledegookamine for weary viewers
When everyone's at work, the two dramas are almost identical. The stuff you can understand is mostly inaudible and the stuff you can hear is mostly incomprehensible. It's all urgency - a rattle of initials and trade names to quicken the pulse of armchair patients.
I take it on trust that the things they shout are reasonably authentic, but it wouldn't matter much if they weren't. The point is to make your head spin, not to instruct you in resuscitation techniques, and almost anything would achieve the same effect - "Quick, he's losing interest, the lids are dropping! Nurse, draw me up three mils of Obscurose, with an IV of Jargonoxomyl. Sustain with with Gobbledegookamine at 15-minute intervals. Now!"
Off duty, on the other hand, the two dramas are very different. For one thing, Cardiac Arrest is prepared to make fun of acronyms, a grave breach of the telly doc's Hippocratic Oath. A weary casualty nurse offloads three new patients on to Dr Collin: "PFO, PGT and PDE," he explains. "Pissed, Fell Over... Pissed, Got Thumped... Pissed, Denies Everything." For another, the British version is genuinely disenchanted and resentful, quite prepared for you to take a strong dislike to some of the characters. In ER, as in most American popular series, adversity is just an obstacle to be cleared in style. The hospital is an arena for personal growth, and hurt feelings are nearly always bandaged and given a little kiss before the final credits roll.
There is humour, even humour you might, just, describe as off-white. But for the most part the gags are a warming addition to the cool gravity of medical rescue, a reassurance to viewers that the icy command of the doctors is capable of thawing. The patient who lies beneath a white sheet and chirpily insists that he's dead brings an indulgent smile to the nurse's face. In Cardiac Arrest they would threaten to start the post-mortem unless he immediately surrendered his bed to a more deserving case. The soupiness here is meticulously confined to the budding romance between Mrs Trimble and Mr Docherty, a man who appears to be permanently attended by his own string quartet. In ER the threats come from outside the hospital, whether it's in the form of a nine-year-old wielding a pistol or a Pit Viper on the loose. In Cardiac Arrest you stand at least as good a chance of being killed by the overworked doctors.
"Club Expat" (BBC2), a Modern Times account of easy living in Dubai, organised its material as a sort of social anthropology. The expatriate community was broken down into types - "The Corporate Wife", "The Old Colonial", "The Self Made Man" and so on. This made the film rather bitty and seemed to prevent it getting beneath the surface of this pampered community. There was a nice moment when one interviewee hotly contested the suggestion that this was a life without culture - "That's absolutely not true," she said, "Tom Jones is coming soon. We've had Cliff Richard, Bryan Adams... Michael Jackson almost came... really everything is available." That suggested that there might be nothing beneath the surface to get at, but even so, the film reflected the subject's blandness a little too faithfully.
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
- 4 Nicki Minaj 'Anaconda': Singer finally releases predictable video
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Laughs go global as Eddie Izzard and Dylan Moran bring international comedians to the Edinburgh Fringe
The Top Ten: Horrible buildings
JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Celebrity Big Brother 2014 line-up: Meet the contestants from Lauren Goodger to Kellie Maloney and Audley Harrison
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women