A Young Doctor’s Notebook: Season 1

The only reason that this little series from Sky Arts caught my eye was the casting – John Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe. What I hadn’t realised was that they were playing the older and younger versions of the same character, which is possibly the most wonderful piece of casting I’ve ever seen. They are PERFECT from their gelled hair to the obvious progression of the proud young doctor full of possibilities to the jaded, worn down man he becomes. The only problem was that at some point he also grew a foot taller.

Even as I was marvelling at the comparison, I was saddened because I feared that this would mean the two would never share the screen, Radcliffe appearing only via flashback and Hamm trapped behind his desk in his own future. But the revelation of this show is the twist by which Hamm appears as a vision to his younger self, sharing conversations, fights and baths. The explanation for this metaphysical meeting is never explained and works so beautifully that explanations would just ruin it.

It’s a good job it works so well, because there’s not a great deal more to the series. There are creative and funny scenes (“drops, gargle, drops, gargle”) which keeps everything moving along, but I would have liked a bit more of that. The dramatic elements, watching the gradual decline of one character into the other was elegantly handled, but somewhat predictable.

I actually watched the series on dvd, and at just over an hour and a half in total, it felt more like watching a film than four individual episodes. I was impressed at that, it efficiently and effectively got the points across and any additional time would have just been padding really. I was therefore a bit sad to spot that there will be a second season (The Telegraph. I just don’t think more is necessary, it’s as close to perfect as it’s going to get.