The Good Doctor s4 ep 19

A Doctors Without Borders-esque mission to Guatemala for most of the main cast: Lim, Marcus, Claire, Morgan, Park, and Shaun. They’re joined by Lea, because… the hospital’s head of IT is… needed on a road trip to Guatemala, I guess…? Anyway, putting that aside it’s a busy and (mostly) enjoyable episode.

The project is overseen by hot local doctor Mateo (Mexican actor Osvaldo Benavides, apparently to become a regular cast member going forward), who gets tough early on, telling the soft Americans that they will be triaging lots of patients, but only operating on twelve maximum, and that they need to put tragic backstories out of their minds. As tragic backstories are the very lifeblood of medical procedurals, this requires a shift in mindset for the American medics. If not for the writers, who manage to assemble twelve locals to go under the knife, while not neglecting the human side: Morgan, for example, had to reject a young boy as a possible candidate, and was clearly devastated when the boy’s father sincerely thanked her for considering him anyway. Needless to say she then savaged Park for his attempt to console her. These two need their heads knocked together.

Happily, there was a little more fun this week on the personal affairs side than has been the case recently. After a hard day’s triaging, everyone hits a local bar, where Marcus unashamedly flirts with nurse Ana Morales (Esmeralda Pimentel). Lim arches a critical eyebrow in his direction, then – intending to go back to her living quarters – hops into a sketchy-looking taxi, where she’s joined by Mateo. The taxi then heads off in an entirely different direction. Mateo explains that they’re being kidnapped, although that turns out to be something of an overstatement: the driver takes them to his house, where there’s a woman – his wife, daughter? – in the middle of a tortuous labour. Lim and Mateo save the mother and baby. And after a life-and-death experience like that, what else can they do except bang it out?

9-1-1: Lone Star s2 ep 6

Last week it was parents, this week the theme is just family in general. Paul’s delightfully cheerful mother and markedly less sunny sister are in town: surprise! What’s little sister’s problem? Well, she has two of them. One which the show handles reasonably well, and with an impressively light touch given the heavy issues involved, albeit it does feel like it’s resolved a little too easily. The other appears out of nowhere and seems tacked-on just for the sake of it. Still, it’s worth it for Paul’s lovely mum bucking the trend of “parents who just show up” being awful, and Marjan fixing the Strickland ladies’ RV because Paul’s family is the 126’s family too. Awww. 

Meanwhile, in other sibling-related business, brother-themed call number one is a Grace solo effort involving conjoined twins. It’s ok, I guess, albeit some of the jokes might not be on the entirely tasteful side. Brother themed-call number two is a Strand Twofer special, with Owen and TK going into a (literal) minefield to rescue a pair of siblings who have just seen the owner of the field blown up. Thanks to Owen and TK’s very sturdy plot armour, they’re obviously going to be fine, but it’s still very cool, and it also sorts out the vacancy in Tommy’s team left by poor Tim, which is very helpful because Nancy hates everyone else who even gets near the job. In fairness to Nancy, though, all the potential replacements in the comedy montage are a disaster. And the only decent potential hire might have a CV that’s as shiny and apparently perfect as he is but, having correctly identified that he does not have the same plot armour as Owen and TK, he is not up for dashing into minefields or any of the high-risk, high-fun antics the 126 get themselves involved in every week, so he’s off almost as soon as he arrived. Goodbye Lt Whatsyourface, and Hello again TK! Yes, Strand Junior appears to have forgotten the crisis of faith last year which led to him being sure he still wanted to be a fire fighter, because now he’s sure he wants to be a paramedic. Which, I mean, fair enough. He knows what he’s doing, a change is as good as a holiday, and this bunch all work/hang out together anyway, so it’s not anywhere as big a deal for the audience as it is for Owen. At least initially. Things are apparently a little “chilly” at first between Strand Senior and Strand Junior about the Strand Even More Junior news but it’s barely noticeable, and they’re back to being each other’s greatest fans by the end so it’s all good. At least for them: I’m not into this Baby Strand storyline, but I don’t get a choice in the matter, I suppose.

9-1-1 s4 ep 6

I thought it was common knowledge on procedurals that using the “Q-word” to describe a shift meant all hell was about to break loose, but apparently neither the random new probationer nor Eddie is aware. Which works out fine for us, if not for the 118: “Jinx” is such a fun episode. Our rueful heroes unmask an imposter and bicker about superstition and Eddie’s love life, as they tear around the city in a non-stop run of quickly but expertly-sketched comedy calls, with the irresistibly hi-energy “Don’t Stop Me Know” blasting out on the soundtrack: it’s probably the most inconsequential, light-hearted episode of 9-1-1 ever, but it’s also a real delight. Loved it.

The Rookie s3 ep 12

Well, this is cosy. Everyone is at the hospital, for a great if somewhat contrived episode. Nolan is there because his son Henry collapsed at the end of the last episode, and he’s joined by his ex-wife Sarah (Emily Deschanel, absolutely bringing the star quality). Tim and Harper go along to make sure Nolan’s OK. They think it’ll be a quick visit. They’re wrong. Grey also turns up, just because. Lopez is there for an ante-natal appointment. Lucy and Jackson have brought a suspect in. And our old friend La Fiera is there as well, ostensibly because her son Diego is having an operation on a sporting injury, but also because Tomas Madrigal, drug kingpin, is terminally ill and she wants to open discussions with him on taking over his business, thus cutting Madrigal’s stupid son Cesar out of things. (This will come back to haunt just about everyone.) Even Tim’s idiot ex-cop ex-buddy Mack is there, guarding Madrigal Sr.

First, though, Henry needs an operation, and he can either have the incredibly risky one which might fix his heart properly, or the low-risk short-term one which will see him OK for a couple of years. He wants the incredibly risky one, but collapses before he can intimate that decision to the doctor – who does not have, it should be said, the warmest of bedside manners – leaving Nolan and Sarah to make the call. They opt to follow his wishes, and then need to wait it out to see if their son survives surgery. It should be said that Nathan Fillion and Emily Deschanel are absolutely terrific together, and their performances as a couple who were never going to last, but who nonetheless retain considerable affection for each other, are precisely calibrated. It’s just lovely to watch. Henry survives, of course.

Lucy and Jackson’s suspect is a young woman who runs away when they turn their backs for a second, but then collapses with abdominal pains, because she’s a drug mule with ecstasy-stuffed condoms in her stomach. She will also survive.

But not everyone will. Lopez and Harper manage to plant a listening device in Madrigal’s room so that they can carry out surveillance on La Fiera. However, she’s guessed that they’re listening, so she has a conversation with Madrigal which – in coded terms – makes him an offer for his business and threatens Lopez and Wesley. She’s very good at being a drug baron, there’s no denying it. But she has a weakness, and it’s one which is targeted when she and Diego are leaving the hospital and Cesar’s gang pounces, shooting and killing Diego. This utterly demented shootout is notable also for a magnificent Tim moment when he takes out two baddies in like half a second, Taser in one hand and gun in the other. But with Diego dead, and both La Fiera and Cesar still at liberty, you have to think it’s going to kick off.

The Good Doctor s4 ep 18

In a mostly underwhelming episode Patient of the Week 1 is Ava, a 12-year-old girl with a growth on her neck which requires surgery. Lim is entirely snippy with Ava’s parents about this, noting that she’s been wanting to carry out the necessary operation since Ava was five. And so the ensuing complications – of which there are many – are on the parents, as Claire has to point out when they want to take their daughter somewhere else. Ava survives.

And Patient 2 is a man who has been treating himself for depression with his own artisanal home-grown psilocybin. Unfortunately, he needs surgery as a result. Reznick favours one course, and Park another. Jordan notes that they’re arguing for the sake of it, and that Park’s desire to pick a fight with Reznick is compromising his decision-making. He’s annoyed, but she’s right. Moreover, he’s all sad because Reznick doesn’t like him the same way he likes her. (Actually, she does, but she’s fighting it, which is even more annoying.) So they’re not going to be friends any more.

And on top of that there are three further personal lives storylines drawn from my list of Things I Don’t Care For In The Good Doctor. In ascending order of apathy-shading-into-irritation: Debbie leaves Glassman because he’s controlling, although since the casus belli is Glassman taking the bullets out of Debbie’s gun without telling her I’m on his side; Claire forgives her father; and, most ridiculously of all, Lea is required to carry out battlefield surgery on Shaun during a camping trip. Come on, folks.

9-1-1: Lone Star s2 ep 5

Parents and difficult conversations are the themes of the week; as Marjan points out, “Nobody likes to say the hard thing”. She does the necessary herself, though, in typical (awesome) Marjan style, in a cute, if hardly original, little sub-plot about Mateo and a tattoo. Hanging out with them, Paul and TK for that storyline is fun and low-stakes, and more than welcome to lighten the mood, given all the other difficult conversations people are either making heavy weather of or avoiding completely: Owen and Gwyn about YOU KNOW WHAT; Judd and then Grace about YOU KNOW WHO; and, in one of the 126’s calls of the week, the poor daughter who finally plucks up the courage to talk to her perfectly lovely dad about her future, only for it all to go horribly wrong because YOU KNOW WHY. That poor man. 

There’s a pretty hard tough domestic call too (albeit with a deeply satisfying ending) but the main focus, again, is on the domestic lives of the regulars, which is fine, to an extent, and I enjoyed it, but that’s two weeks in a row. I like a reasonable amount of soap with my procedural drama, and this was a good, solid ep on both fronts – the car accident story was particularly sad and well-acted, as was the domestic one – but if this show becomes all babies and parents all the time, I may begin to get bored sooner rather than later. 

Public Service Announcement 30 of 2021: Secrets of the London Underground

This promises to be an absolute joy. Bona fide national treasure Tim Dunn, of The Architecture The Railways Built, is joined by Siddy Holloway of the London Transport Museum for a six-part exploration of the parts of the London Underground which are hidden from public view: disused stations, hidden tunnels, that sort of thing. Trains, architecture, design, engineering, modern history: really, what more could one ask for? (Particularly as I’m visiting London this very week.) It starts tonight at 8pm on the Yesterday channel.

Whiskey Cavalier s1 ep 1

In an odd sort of way – which overcommitted TV viewers will, I suspect, understand – part of me was hoping that Whiskey Cavalier wouldn’t be any good, particularly as I didn’t really want to lose my heart to a show which was cancelled after only 13 episodes. Unfortunately, it’s kind of brilliant. Scott Foley plays FBI agent Will, still recovering from a devastating breakup with the love of his life, despatched to pick up rogue NSA analyst Edgar (a terrific Tyler James Williams). However, CIA agent Frankie (Lauren Cohan) also has an interest in Edgar, and the three of them zig-zag across Europe, with Will and Frankie fighting each other for control of the situation, and occasionally having to work together to defeat other interests. Admirable support is provided by Vir Das, Josh Hopkins, and the reliably wonderful Ana Ortiz.

I was hooked within five minutes. Whiskey Cavalier has pretty much everything I’m looking for right now: compelling leads, a whiff of romance in the air, snappy and occasionally laugh-out-loud dialogue, and a variety of exotic locations (although this was first shown in 2019, in the Covid-19 world all foreign travel now looks exotic). It also has inter-agency turf wars which are entertaining rather then tedious, and some decent twists, one of which caught me entirely off-guard.

I always feel compelled to end reviews like this by saying something along the lines of “this won’t change your life”. Well, it won’t; but in all honesty I’ve had more than enough of life-changing events recently. So if you’re looking for a short, sweet blast of midsummer fun, Whiskey Cavalier is it, and Alibi is the place.

9-1-1 s4 ep 5

I’m not a massive fan of origin stories, as a general rule. I either enjoy characters now or I don’t; I’m not overly interested in what they were like before. That, coupled with the fact that, although I love him now, Buck annoyed the living daylights out of me when we first met him (and for quite a long time after that, too), meant I really wasn’t looking forward to “Buck Begins.” Having to go back to the old angry, idiot Buck definitely wasn’t on my wish list. To my surprise, though, I thought this was great. 

I don’t know if the writers planned Buck’s back story from the start but, if they didn’t, all credit to them for coming up with one that explains his journey as a character perfectly, making all his old acting out and recklessness an understandable feature, instead of a wholly infuriating bug, and making it even more moving and wonderful that he’s found his family in the 118. The deeper look in to his relationship with Maddie, who raised him, loved him and gave him the gift of finding the thing that makes him happy and the people who make him feel loved, was unexpectedly poignant too. And the rescue at the sanitiser factory was freaking amazing. When it looked like all hope was lost, but then it wasn’t…. Sob!

Public Service Announcement 29 of 2021: Never Have I Ever

Last summer, I fell absolutely head over heels for season 1 of Mindy Kaling’s terrific teen comedy Never Have I Ever. Loved it to bits. Sang its praises long and loud to anyone who would listen. So much so that, this summer, I’m actually a little apprehensive about season 2 (now streaming on Netflix). Can it possibly be as good? Will I like it as much? I guess I’ll just need to watch and find out. Season 1 is of course still there too, if you haven’t already seen it – go on, it’s fantastic.