The Good Doctor s2 ep 15

Although The Good Doctor has been on generally excellent form recently, it has undoubtedly lost some of its focus on Shaun and changed into something of an ensemble show, a little bit more like a traditional medical procedural. Does it need a disruptor? Well, it’s got one. Step forward Dr Jackson Han, the new chief of surgery, played by our old friend Daniel Dae Kim, who of course also exec produces the show. Which presumably means that when he says he wants to play a brilliant, high-paid, high-maintenance, high-cheekboned surgeon, that’s what he gets to do.

Han starts off by turning up late for his own welcome brunch – next time I move jobs I totally want a welcome brunch, or just a brunch – and scrubbing into an incredibly delicate operation on Persie, a new-born with a catalogue of medical problems, poor little thing. He puts loud music on, which immediately throws Shaun off balance, and starts firing questions at the interns. “Shame-based learning”, Lim admonishes gently afterwards, “isn’t my style”. Then Han tells Melendez to run a full preventative workup on Minesh, a wealthy hospital donor. Melendez is somewhat put out, but complies with the “request”, and finds that Minesh has a tumour which is probably benign, but might not be; and they won’t know unless or until it kills him or is removed. Minesh has to decide whether to have risky surgery to take it out.

Persie, meantime, spends most of the episode on the operating table, as the surgeons desperately try to save her. Her mother wonders whether the antidepressants she took before she knew she was pregnant might have caused the birth defects. Shaun allows that they might have, which incurs Han’s wrath; and although Lim and Claire defend Shaun’s improving communication skills, it’s clear that Han has already taken agin Shaun; or, at least, his bedside manner. Shaun later comes up with a quite phenomenal save to keep Persie alive, but Han has made his mind up: Shaun is going to pathology, where he can use his undoubted diagnostic skills while not interacting with patients.

Finally, Glassman’s storyline continues to be the least successful part of the show: this week he’s encouraged, by fellow-patient Larry, to embrace cancer as an identity. Larry seems kind of annoying, but what do I know? I’ve never been there. On the whole, though, a great episode. Directed by Freddie Highmore himself, incidentally.


Hawaii Five-0 s9 ep 9

Urban vigilante Gene Wahale, who styles himself ‘The Night Sentinel’, takes down a drug dealer, all the while filming his heroics for his YouTube channel. Unfortunately, he is then killed. Perhaps by one of the 37 people he had subjected to a citizens’ arrest? Nope, nor at the hand of his younger rival in vigilanteism, ‘Guardian’.

At this point, one viewer at least was wondering whether the death of one of these idiots was an entirely bad thing; a view, perhaps, tacitly shared by Lieutenant Daniel Williams. “Something’s wrong with you”, he observes, if you want to “put on tights and fight crime”. This leads to an impassioned debate with Steve about superheroes, during which Danny is very much on the side of comic book characters with superhuman powers, as opposed to Batman who “inherit(ed) money and bought a bunch of Batmobiles”.

When their investigation brings them into contact with Honolulu’s comic book community, I feared the worst. However, against my expectations the episode turned out to be ridiculous but goofy fun, and I enjoyed it a lot. I still think ‘Guardian’ needs to get laid stat, mind you.

And meantime, another long-running plot arc is brought to the most abrupt of ends, when Yakuza banker Kimura is dragged before a room full of oyubun; it was he who organised the hit on Noriko and then tried to frame Adam. In recognition of his long service, Kimura is offered “Yakuza justice or Five-0 justice”, and when he opts for the latter – and who can blame him? – Adam steps out of the shadows to effect the arrest. Once again working with the Yakuza, Adam?

Bergerac s1 ep 8

When it was reported a few weeks ago that Jersey-set police drama Bergerac is being revived, I suddenly had a desire to watch an episode of the original. A quick hunt around the schedules revealed that it’s currently being re-run by Drama, and so I picked this episode, ‘Late For A Funeral’, from my EPG.

The first thing to say is that I enjoyed it, and did so unironically. The plotting was solid: a diver, in the process of trying to recover something from a downed Nazi plane is murdered by someone who cuts his breathing tube, and Bergerac tries to solve both the killing and the mystery of what a German pilot might have been trying to fly out of Jersey. And there were, of course, lots of delicious incidental period trappings: a VCR; “photostats”; a hero with the top four buttons of his shirt undone; the pathologist who pours a shot of whisky into his mug of tea before getting to work; drinks after work at Diamante Lil’s; for that matter, Lil’s astonishing jacket, which made her look like a human chandelier; cigar-chomping rogue businessman Charlie Hungerford; a reference to the Common Market; and so on.

But the main reason I selected this one to watch is, of course, because of the war theme. I don’t recall watching this specific episode in 1981, when it was first broadcast, but at that time I would have regarded anything to do with World War II as impossibly ancient history. We are now, of course, further from 1981 than it was from the end of the War, and so I was keen to see how that issue was handled. Pretty well, is the answer. It gave me a bit of a jolt to see a character of about my age who had, unremarkably, been a fighter pilot. But Charlie Hungerford aside – “We shot down enough of your lot!” he, uh, jokes at one point with a couple of Germans who hire him to recover the plane for themselves – there is no suggestion that the war is anything other than firmly in the past. And the deceased German pilot’s surviving parents, who visit Jersey to reclaim his remains, are treated with discretion and courtesy. Anyway, I was both fascinated and entertained.

The Good Doctor s2 ep 14

After last week’s terrific – and bracingly original – episode, this one sticks much more closely to the standard medical drama playbook. It’s also great, though, which provides further confirmation that The Good Doctor is currently at the top of its game.

There’s only one Case of the Week, but it’s a biggie: Molly, a teenage girl, is undergoing a gruelling series of operations to reconstruct her face after suffering grievous injuries from an accidental gunshot. (Way to go, Second Amendment! Another win!) By happy coincidence, 14-year-old Karen is pronounced brain dead, but facially intact, after a car smash. Uh, facial transplant? Karen’s mom Shannon is asked. Uh, no, she replies, until Claire adroitly facilitates an accidental encounter between Shannon and Molly, whereupon she gives the thumbs-up. It’s the tried-and-tested transplant plot, with the additional psychological spin that comes from (a) waking up to see another face looking back at you in the mirror; and (b) seeing someone else with your dead daughter’s face. And a subplot in which Melendez has to concede that he’s treating Lim differently – specifically, he’s uncharacteristically deferential to her expertise – now that they’re hooking up. Not that they’re going to stop, though, and why the hell would they?

Meantime, Glassman and Shaun get high on Glassy’s medical marijuana, then decide to go on a journey to Portland, Oregon, to find Robin, the woman Glassman was in unrequited love with in high school. So it’s a combination of straights on drugs and a road-trip. Nothing novel, but once again the show manages to find some new angles: Shaun realising that he has feelings for Lea; Glassman revealing that he needs to apologise to Robin for what he wrote in her yearbook; Robin’s bland assurances that she doesn’t recall what he’s talking about, followed by a scene which suggests she remembers it very well. I don’t like road trips, and even I was moved.

Public Service Announcement 16 of 2019: BBC Scotland

The BBC Television Service formally commenced operations in 1936 and, only 83 years later, Scotland now has its own channel. BBC Scotland starts this evening with a promise that it won’t be “all about numbers” – well, let’s wait and see about that. It also seems inevitable that it will require to deploy most of its intellectual and, indeed, financial resources on its current affairs and political coverage, and in particular in trying to convince a divided nation that it’s being fair to all sides. (Spoiler: it won’t succeed.)

Tonight’s opening slate of shows includes the first episode of the last ever season of Still Game (9pm); and, more interestingly, the TV premiere of Scottish documentary Nae Pasaran (10.30pm), which is about an incident in 1974 when workers in East Kilbride’s Rolls-Royce factory refused to service jet engines being used by Chilean dictator General Pinochet. He, of course, had in 1973 overthrown the democratically-elected President, Salvador Allende, and was running Chile with quite startling brutality, even by the standards of fascist military dictators. “Allende, Allende, el pueblo te defiende.”

(In Scotland: 108 on Virgin, 115 on Sky and Freeview. Outside Scotland, 162 on Virgin, 457 on Sky, 108 on Freesat. iPlayer as well.)

Hawaii Five-0 s9 ep 8

A will-this-do? of a Thanksgiving episode commences with the traditional Five-0 and friends game of touchdown football, with Tani deputising for Danny as one of the team captains. Obviously the Big Kahuna is in charge of their opponents. Before it can get too insanely competitive, though, there’s been a death: a housebreaker has been found crushed to death under the safe he was trying to expropriate. But another thief, inevitably ignoring a house full of valuables, then drilled the safe in order to try and find something specific. Just once, I’d like TV procedural housebreakers to empty the whole damn house, rather than stealing to order. The something specific is a valuable baseball card, and the thief’s motives are interesting, but perhaps not quite explored enough.

Because the other half of the episode is given over to Lou and his extended family, all staying with him for Thanksgiving. His parents (Gladys Knight and Louis Gosset, Jr.,) are an absolute delight. His brother Percy (Clifton Powell), on the other hand, is provocative to the point of being sociopathic, and would be none the worse for a particularly vicious punishment beating. Which Grover is finally about to administer, until he realises that their parents are watching. This being H50, it obviously ends with both hugging and learning, but by that point Percy had got under my skin to the point where I was willing Grover to change his mind and smack his brother into a coma, if necessary with Gladys and Louis witnessing the whole thing. Our old friend Tony Almeida directs, incidentally, and the episode’s shortcomings aren’t his fault.

Madam Secretary s5 ep 10

After several weeks of round-the-world firefighting, Elizabeth returns to the home front this week for Madam Secretary’s 100th episode. To Arizona, then, where Governor Barker has instituted a policy of separating undocumented children and mothers at the Mexican border. Yes, it’s ripped from the headlines, and Mad Sec puts an additional thumb on the scales by rendering the Governor as a big-hatted redneck, and the local police as hicks. I’m not sure that was entirely necessary (whatever one’s views of the policy itself), and it turned a potentially great episode into a merely good one.

Because what’s left is harrowing enough: a distraught mother, warehoused children sitting in their own urine, that sort of thing. Arizona is clear that it won’t stand for interference from D.C.; POTUS, Elizabeth, and Russell are determined that the policy will end, although their attempt to do so through the courts founders when the judge hearing their case turns out to be possessed by the spirit of Antonin Scalia, and shoots them down. Even Senator Morejon, Elizabeth’s old enemy, is more sympathetic, but won’t step in.

So Elizabeth heads to Arizona herself, and following a tangle with Governor Bighat is arrested for trespass. This, one feels, might be a defining moment for her Presidential campaign.