Casualty has been gracing BBC 1 for over three decades and some people might find it hard to believe that the producers of a new US series called ER flew over to the UK back in the early nineties to check out Casualty on set in order to get some tips for new project.
The medical drama occasionally comes up with something different and there was plenty to enjoy in last Saturday’s season-ender which in effect was a live episode. It was all done on a single camera in an endless take and it had that ER feel of authenticity and pace, with the hook being Duffy showing a couple of students around who fancy a job in the medical profession. The icing on the cake would have been for the episode to have actually been done live, but it did show that there are still plenty of legs left in the old war horse which still delivers excellent audience figures and wins awards.
Much as I like Casualty, I still prefer the spin-off that is Holby City on a Tuesday night, which seems to be going through a phase of bringing back some old favourites, and which this week brought back the power-hungry Guy Self (John Michie) having learnt no lessons from his past misdemeanors. An actual doctor (well ex-Doctor Who), Paul McGann, will also be joining the cast shortly.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Channel Four) bowed out in glorious style this week, with the handmaids offering some serious rebellion when they refused to do a stoning. It was gripping stuff and I can’t wait to see series two next year, and well done to Elisabeth Moss for her emotional lead performance, including a wonderful foul-mouthed tirade against her “mistress” over the treatment of her young daughter. The show has put phrases like “Praise Be” and “Under the Eye” into the conciousness, and alongside Big Little Lies and The Good Fight, it’s amongst a clutch of the best new US dramas of the year so far. Add to that list a real treat coming this autumn to BBC 2, with Feud, which tells the story of the rivalry between Hollywood greats Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. It’s an utter scream which you’ll love.
Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic) is on fire at the moment. The violence and sex scenes grab the headlines, but for me Thrones is at its very best when the script dominates, and it has never been better than this current run. This week’s episode was one of the very best with some great exchanges and revelations which include Jon Snow meeting the dragon lady Daenerys; Cersei being nasty as ever, and a wonderful final scene when Lady Olena (played by the peerless Diana Rigg) of the House Tyrell exacting some great revenge in a reveal going back a couple of series.
A box set recommendation comes from Amazon Prime and their drama The Man in the High Castle, looking at what might have been in North America if the Nazis and Japanese had won the Second World War. The cast is led by Rufus Sewell as an SS boss in the States, and besides the obvious story of resistance, we have a completely different and intriguing layer that gets you guessing. The set designs and attention to detail add to the experience, and a third season is currently in production of this captivating series.
10 Puppies and Us (BBC 2) is an absolute winner looking at dogs hooking up with their new owners, including a Spanish rescue podenco called Pedro. It’s a follow-up repeating the same formula of Six Puppies and Us from a couple of years ago, but what surprised me was the way some of the owners treated their pets, almost to the level of ignorance, not having done any research. Seeing Pedro “caged” during the night, and seeing him break-out did not sit well with me at all, in addition to another owner disregarding the advice of an animal behaviourist and wanting to acquire more dogs, with little sensible consideration for the ones she had already.