Tag Archives: tv

TV Review: Junior Doctors – Your Life in Their Hands (Series 2 Episode 1)

30 Jan

Image: BBC

Sometimes I think that I ought to have been a doctor, so great is my weakness for medical dramas. I entertain a fantasy of stalking down hallways in brightly-coloured scrubs, holding people’s lives in my hands. And then I remember how much I hated studying science, abandon the dream, and put on another episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands is not actually a medical drama but a documentary following eight recently-qualified doctors starting jobs at the Chelsea and Westminster hospital. It immediately appealed to me with my love of all things medical, but, by giving me an un-romanticised look at the medical profession, put paid to any of my potential dreams of joining the junior doctors.

It also made me a little nervous about setting foot in a hospital, at least during the month of August. A nurse cheerfully explains at the beginning of the programme that the day on which the new doctors arrive, when all hell breaks loose and the death rate rises by 6%, is known as Black Wednesday, and the nurses avoid working then if possible. It is a refreshing portrait of nurses which we are given in Junior Doctors, as they are the ones who know what they are doing, rather than being overshadowed by the doctors.

But of course most of the focus is on the doctors, if only to highlight their incompetence. In the first hour of this six-part series (actually the second series of Junior Doctors, the first, which aired last summer, having been set in Newcastle) screen time is mostly shared between five of the eight, although the fact that they all share a house means that we do see the others.

Andy, the youngest of the bunch at just 22, starts the day by attempting to insert a cannula, and after several failed attempts (during which I wince in sympathy, having been subject to a bungled blood test earlier in the week) he eventually has to call a doctor in to help, at the patient’s insistence. Chelsea girl Milla is worried that she will not get paged on her first night shift, but wishes she hadn’t complained when her first duty is to certify a death.

Lucy and Aki appear most concerned about proving their abilities, Aki staying up late the night before his first shift to revise. However, he fails to impress his new boss when he breaks the law, giving out confidential information on the telephone. Lucy also has telephone worries, when she receives a call about a patient who’s collapsed, and pauses mid-diagnosis to ask a nearby nurse if she’s right.

Funny guy Amieth says he’s “not particularly ambitious or driven” and one has to wonder why he chose to become a doctor if this is really the case. Being a second year, he remains unflappable even while working in the Emergency Department, performing a rectal exam and inserting a line into the foot of a patient who is in cardiac arrest without batting an eyelid. His cool demeanour makes a change from the fumbling and nervousness which we see from the others, and shows what a difference a year makes.

Not for the weak-stomached, due to the sheer quantity of blood and needles which we see, nor perhaps for those nervous about an impending hospital visit, Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands is nonetheless an interesting watch, particularly if you want a more realistic view of the inside of a hospital than the one which you might receive from Casualty or Grey’s Anatomy.

Junior Doctors: Your Life in Their Hands airs on Tuesdays at 9PM on BBC3 and is also available on BBC iPlayer.

The Gratitude List

2 Jan

It’s official. I spend too much time on Twitter. I only joined the site back in June, but it’s already usurped Facebook to win the title of Chief Internet Distraction. But I can’t complain while it continues to give me writing inspiration. For example, when I saw this circulating the other night, I just had to leap onto the bandwagon. People spend a lot of time complaining that social media makes us envious and depressed, as we see how great other people’s lives are. But how often do we stop and think about just how lucky we are? The challenge which was circulating on Twitter was to make a list of 100 things which you’re grateful for from the past year. Now, while I did manage to come up with the required number, I thought that 100 things were a little excessive – I didn’t want anyone falling asleep attempting to plough through the list! So, with a little revision, I’ve condensed it down to ten.

From 2011 I am grateful for:

  1. Old Friends. I spent a large part of the year abroad, and being apart from my friends has shown me how much I care about them (absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that). Being away for a long time also makes for amazing catch-up sessions when you return, one of the highlights being a day of sushi making for my birthday.
  2. New Friends. As I just said, I spent a large part of the year abroad, and I didn’t spend that time sitting in a corner and rocking. The new friends who I found this year are spread out across the world, but in this new age of technology, that won’t stop us from being friends for life.
  3. Family. My “rock god” father, my problem-solving mother, my chick flick-watching brother, and my entire crazy extended family. They may drive me insane most of the time, but I wouldn’t be half the person that I am without them, and I should be more aware of that fact.
  4. Pets. The last three bullet points have covered people, but my pets deserve a special mention too. Everyone needs a furry somebody in their life, and I’m lucky enough to have two!
  5. Home. I’ve lived in many places this year: a flat above a former brothel on the Viennese Gürtel, a detached house in the Home Counties, a tent pitched in the driving rain in the American Berkshire mountains, the “little witch house” in Bamberg, a student bedroom in Durham. All have been home in their own way, and I’m grateful for all of them (well, maybe not the tent, but you get the idea…).
  6. Travel. 2011 has been, without a doubt, a very good year for travelling. I’ve visited eight different countries, climbed the Empire State Building at midnight, drunk  in sports bars in small-town Pennsylvania, crossed Romania by train and bus, and met some incredible people along the way. Travel has always been my passion, and I’m hoping that 2012 allows me to do even more of it.
  7. Education. I’m approaching the end of my final year of university, and although part of me can’t wait to be free (even if I step into the waiting arms of a postgraduate journalism course), part of me will definitely miss geeking it up in language classes and history seminars. Shoddy administration aside, Durham has treated me well over the past few years, and I shall be sorry to say goodbye.
  8. New Experiences. This ties in with the travel somewhat, and if I was to make a comprehensive list of my new experiences last year, it would go on forever! But suffice to say that 2011 has been a year of firsts for me: first rock festival, first CouchSurfing experience, first time travelling in first class, and many many more!
  9. Television. Many of the points on this list have been fairly serious, so I felt the need to be at least a little flippant. My favourite television shows cheer me up when I’m feeling blue, give me something about which to natter to my friends, and have provided the inspiration for many a blog post.
  10. You. I’ve loved developing this blog over the past six months, and watching my readership grow. So to everyone who has read, commented, subscribed, and generally made me feel good about myself as my stats have climbed: thank you! You’re all responsible for my inflated ego!

What are you grateful for? If this post inspires you to make your own list, please do leave a link to it in the comments!

TV Review: Great Expectations Part One (BBC)

28 Dec

Image: The Telegraph

In my review of The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff, I mentioned my hatred for Great Expectations. This hatred developed when I studied the novel during my GCSEs, and after a term of reading and re-reading the same four passages, I was certain that I never wanted to see or hear anything about it ever again. But the BBC’s new adaptation of it, the first part of which aired last night, may just have managed to change my mind.

Part of the reason for my change of heart was the sheer beauty of this adaptation. Well, I say beauty. In reality, it was beautiful in a gloomy, terrifying, utterly Dickensian kind of way, which is what made it so perfect. Despite having seen every adaptation known to man of the other texts which I studied at GCSE, I have never seen a televised version of Great Expectations before, and thus I cannot compare it to its numerous predecessors. Nor can I say how it compared to the images which appeared in my head when I read the novel, for if these ever existed, I blocked them out, along with my memories of most of the plot. What I can say is that the atmosphere created was perfect for the scenes which played out on my television screen.

The one image which I did have before turning on the television tonight was of Miss Havisham. However, although I do of course remember her from the novel, I have a horrible feeling that the image in my head comes straight from The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff. And, I have to say, Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Miss Havisham was nothing like that image. Given that my Miss Havisham was a slightly comic figure though (which only increases my suspicion about where I might have extracted her from), I think that this was probably for the best. Anderson depicted the tragedy of Miss Havisham beautifully, as well as the childlike elements of the character, and the scenes at Satis House were undoubtedly the finest moments of the hour.

There are also excellent performances by Oscar Kennedy as the younger Pip and Douglas Booth as the elder, Shaun Dooley as Joe Gargery, Claire Rushbrook as Mrs Joe, Izzy Meikle-Small and Vanessa Kirby as the younger and elder Estellas, and Ray Winstone as the Abel Magwitch (finally in a role in which his irrepressible Cockney accent is appropriate). Once again BBC, you have succeeded in coercing me back into loving Dickens – I can’t wait to watch the next two installments!

Parts Two and Three of Great Expectations will be shown on BBC One at 9PM on December 28th and 29th, or all three can be viewed on BBC iPlayer.

Merry Christmas!

26 Dec

As of half an hour ago it is no longer Christmas in the UK, but I couldn’t let the day pass without writing at least a short post about it (my internet addiction is growing by the day).

Not that there is much to say. For the first time in what feels like forever we neither visited relatives, nor had relatives visit us and, perhaps as a direct consequence of this, the day went without a hitch. And while this was in no way a bad thing, it does mean that I have been left with something of a lack of amusing stories to tell. My entire Christmas was shockingly normal: Midnight Mass last night, presents this morning (including a Kindle which my parents had somehow managed to convince me they hadn’t bought), dinner this afternoon (complete with fighting over the crispiest roasties and reading of cracker jokes in bad Alabama accents, the latter possibly being something which only happens in my family…), and TV specials of varying quality this evening.

All in all, a very good day! Even the cats are in the festive spirit, and have set aside their animosity to sleep in the same room. (Mine. At opposite ends of my bed. Merry Christmas Julie, no sleep for you!)

Recap/Review: The Vampire Diaries Season 3 Episode 4 (Disturbing Behaviour)

20 Oct

The Originals

This is only Rebekah’s second episode, and already I love her. But more than that, I love the dynamic between her and Klaus (“Will you stop making me out to be a brat? I am not a brat!” “A thousand years of life experience says otherwise.”), and when you add Stefan to the mix, you get a really awesome trio. I can genuinely see these three hanging out forever for all eternity. However, with Klaus coming ever closer to discovering that Elena is still alive, this looks unlikely to happen.

In this episode, Klaus convinces Gloria to scry for Rebekah’s necklace, leading her to discover her secret. Luckily for him, she doesn’t tell the Originals. Unluckily for him, she wants the necklace for herself, and decides the best way to get it is by tying him to a table and practicing a little old-school voodoo. His luck hasn’t run out quite yet though, as Katherine arrives to rescue her, hoping to work with him to find the vampire hunter from whom Klaus has apparently been running for centuries. He turns her down though, allowing Katherine go back to her old favourite activity, impersonating Elena.

The Teens

Bonnie’s back! Now, I don’t always like her, but her absence from the show definitely leaves a hole. And in this case, she’s back just in the nick of time as boyfriend Jeremy has been dreaming about Anna. The aforementioned dead vampire ex-girlfriend is continuing to show up when he least expects it, and this week she seems to be doing her utmost to keep Jeremy away from his new girlfriend. She has forgotten one thing though, and that’s that his new girlfriend’s a witch, who is understandably worried about her boyfriend seeing dead people. But as of yet, we have no solution to this particular problem, and I for one am interested to see where it leads.

There’s another interesting relationship development in this episode, with Elena and Damon making chilli and being unbearably couple-y. (“I knew your old family.” Damon teases, moments before bumping hips with the love of his brother’s life. “They made sucky chilli.”). It falls to Caroline to dispense relationship advice, in a role that she hasn’t had for far too long in this show. “Where’s Damon?” Elena asks, and Caroline’s response is “Probably off somewhere doing bad things to good people…consider me the honesty police.” Classic. However much the supernatural goings-on may be the driving force behind this show, sometimes all it needs is a little light-hearted teenage drama.

The Council

Here’s something else we haven’t heard about in a while, the Council. This episode there are two people trying to force their way into this prestigious circle, and both of them are somewhat unlikely candidates for membership. The first is Bill Forbes, whose presence is unexpected purely because Damon was supposed to have compelled him to forget everything that happened in the last episode. Apparently that willpower that he’s been practising really does work! However, he nearly doesn’t live to tell the tale, as Damon attempts to go back to finish the job, and not with compulsion this time. Luckily for him, his daughter is able to put last week’s torture session behind her to save his life (or maybe she just enjoys beating the crap out of Damon).

The second new Council member is Alaric, who has been going to great lengths to protect Elena this episode, even fighting with his old buddy Damon. And he might just be the first Council member to know everything about the supernatural happenings in the town first-hand. But whether that will make the Council any more effective at protecting the town’s inhabitants is another matter entirely…

Challenging Myself

29 Sep

I’m aware that this blog has been neglected for quite some time, but here’s what’s been happening in my life. I went on an epic bus tour of America (alright it was only six states, but it felt pretty epic at the time), I spend three weeks at a language school in Germany, I wrote a 25,000 word novella, and more than anything else, I procrastinated. But now I am well and truly back in the blogging game. This is why:


This is the website of my university newspaper, Palatinate, and if you scroll right to the bottom of the page, you’ll see my name, because I’ve just been made Blogs Editor. Technically, this doesn’t mean that I have to write any blogs, just recruit people to write them for me, but it has got me thinking about my own blog and how I would be a lot better at writing if there was a scary editor-type person breathing down my neck. So, there being a lack of volunteers for the role, I decided to take it on myself, and have set myself a challenge.

The Challenge:

From now until the end of the year, I will post a minimum of two entries per week. These will probably be a Fiction Friday entry and a TV review – I need an excuse to keep watching the hundreds of shows that I’m addicted to once I return to uni!

Let’s see how I do!