(Series 15, ep.31) There was some spooky old stuff going on in Holby this week, with a serial killer’s accomplice still languishing on Keller, a vampire attacking Dr Gemma Wilde on AAU, Dr Oliver Valentine being haunted by the spectre of his dead wife (“How do you live with a ghost?”) and Jac Naylor snacking on chocolate and anchovies. I mean, anchovies I can understand. But chocolate? Jac Naylor?
I’m going to start at the bottom (is AAU on a lower floor? I always imagine it is), because I need to show off. As PLA Jr will confirm, within two minutes of the goth patient trying to bite Dr Gemma Wilde because she thought she was a vampire, and then creasing up with abdominal pains, I’d diagnosed porphyria. It took handsome (oh gosh, yes he is) new doctor Harry Tressler (Jules Knight) most of the rest of the episode to reach the same conclusion, but at least he was doing better than Gemma and Ric Griffin, who’d had a dig about in the poor girl’s insides before concluding they had no idea what was up with her. How did I become such a diagnostic whizz? I might have graduated from the Holby School of Televisual Medicine, but I did my early training at St Elsewhere, which once featured a similar storyline.
Back to Dr Harry Tressler, who’s the new CT1. He’s good-looking, charming and flirtatious – he’s already got Gemma and Mary-Claire interested in him, and predictably the first round went to MC (“Hammer time!” – I do love Mary-Claire). While he’s in his element with the ladies, Harry seems less at ease with black people, mistaking Ric Griffin for a porter (but… but… the gravitas of the man! He wears seniority like an invisible crown on his grizzled head!). When Ric put him right, Harry made a clumsy attempt to relate: “You lead from the front – man of the people stylee.” Ouch. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.29) Is Serena trying to get rid of Ric Griffin? Is that why she’s banished one of Holbyshire’s leading general surgeons to the reservoir of surplus emergency cases that is known as AAU, which everyone keeps insisting is a “young man’s game”? She needs to be careful he doesn’t have her for constructive dismissal if that’s her plan. She claims his emergency medicine skills are “outdated.” This would be because he’s a consultant general surgeon. Honestly, it makes no sense, it really doesn’t.
His comfort zone is very much the operating theatre, so he spent much of the episode there trying to hide from AAU (where someone yells “Mr Griffin!” literally every three seconds) by performing a laparotomy at the same time as an emergency procedure on a patient. It made clinical sense, and it also bought him a bit of quiet time away from the hurly burly of bedpans and puke. He also found time for a little bit of brain surgery, which obviously was excellent fun for him, but didn’t go down well with Serena. “It’s not an AAU procedure,” she said. Well, no, but Ric follows in the proud tradition of Linden Cullen and Michael Spence in doing stuff on AAU that’s ever so slightly a bit too risky for AAU, and therefore he’s a better fit for the Ward of Doom than Serena perhaps anticipated. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.28) Following last week’s harrowing events it was business as usual at Holby, once you stepped over the Tara Lo Makeshift Shrine on the front steps.
How was Young Dr Oliver Valentine coping with his grief? You’d have to say, not well at all. That’s what Jac said, anyhow. “How’s the patient?” Hanssen asked her (about a patient). “Stable,” she said. “Which is more than can be said for Valentine.” Well, indeed. He was insisting on working, which was handy because then he could act out his anguish on his patients – or, more particularly, their relatives. The issue was a young man who’d inherited a life-limiting condition from his mother, but the parents hadn’t told him about it because they didn’t want to ruin his life with worry. Unfortunately this chimed badly with Ollie, who charged around like a bull in a china shop making sure truths were told. This was because he blamed Elliot for not telling him about Tara’s condition sooner. He thought if he’d known about it, he could have persuaded her to have the surgery earlier and the outcome might have been less fatal. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.27) Apparently Jing Lusi knew right from when she auditioned for the role of Tara Lo what the outcome for the character would be. This being the case, you have to applaud her and the writers for not taking the easy route of making Tara completely lovable, sympathetic and sweet (Chantelle, basically) so we’d be devastated by her departure.
Instead, Tara has often been spiky, self-absorbed, stubborn and annoying. Although undeniably beautiful and although the situation she was in evoked sympathy, it was hard to warm to her as a person (unless you were Ollie – which I’m going to spell that way from now on because Tara did). And still we were devastated by her departure.
The masterstroke in this episode was that we were given two different perspectives on Tara’s operation. There was the operation itself, which looked absolutely horrifying – equipment like a sterile and sanitised torture chamber and the stomach-churning notion of being awake while someone else is poking about in your brain. Tara was being kept happy and comfortable by drugs – she even initiated a singalong – so the situation was possibly even more traumatic for Oliver and for Tara’s mother, who had to stand by and watch. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.26) The Linden Cullen Memorial Shrubbery has never looked lovelier. Twinkly fairy lights, hearts and flowers festooned the shrubs and turned it into a little grotto of sparkly festivity. The bride looked radiant – she had flowers in her hair and was wearing a cute little furry cape (essential as the episode was apparently filmed in December). The groom looked dashing and handsome, if a tad nervous, and the fairy lights were reflected in his lovely blue eyes. Blessikins.
Who’d have guessed (without access to Twitter etc) at the start of the episode that the hour would end in the wedding of Dr Tara Lo and Dr Oliver Valentine? They weren’t even engaged at the beginning. The proposal wasn’t the most romantic of events, either. Tara needed a next of kin who wouldn’t refuse her request to donate her organs if/when she died, as her parents were opposed to That Sort of Thing. Oliver was not opposed, and, as he confessed to Jac later, loves Tara to bits, so he agreed. On the eve of her horrible and scary surgery, they decided to get married. “Keep the champagne to a minimum and make sure she gets an early night,” was the ominous message from Tara’s neurologist. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.25) This episode started at the end and then flash-backed (back-flashed?) six hours earlier in a style that used to feature quite regularly in Holby. It even ended with a musical montage as staff members reacted to an email from Tara Lo, telling them about her brain tumour. Hanssen’s reaction was to make sure the pencils on his desk were parallel, a brilliant little touch showing his need for order and control in times of stress.
The meat of the episode was about Tara facing the prospect of either death or surgery that may leave her drastically altered (or dead) – and either way the probable end to her career. It was intense and dramatic, with Tara demonstrating to the long-suffering Oli how bad she was feeling by smashing up the windows of her car. “This is what the end of my career looks like!” she yelled as she took a metal pole to her windscreen. I couldn’t help thinking that smashing up Serena’s car might have ended her career even quicker, but that’s me for you. While it’s easy to sympathise with Tara’s situation, she doesn’t make it easy to sympathise with her as a person. She’s so spiky, defensive and insular that it’s Oli I feel sorry for. “I’m concerned you’re in a kind of denial,” Tara’s neurologist said to her. Tara’s reply? “Well, I’m not!” Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.24) Even to the casual observer, something is very wrong with Dr Tara Lo. When faced with Oli in his PJ’s asking “Why you aren’t coming back to bed?” what right-minded person would opt to stay with the textbooks instead?
That aside, she’s been exhibiting a few more symptoms recently. Little lapses of concentration, gaps in her memory, falling-over and so on. Then there was a recent MRI scan that showed her tumour had grown. She’s on strict instructions to report that sort of thing immediately to Hanssen, but she’s stubborn, driven, in denial etc, so she’s been ignoring it, with almost fatal consequences for her patients as we saw last week.
Something had to give, and what gave was Tara’s knees as she went crashing to the floor in the prayer room. It wasn’t a bout of religious fervour, it was some kind of tumour-related seizure. Luckily she was with a rather calm trainee monk, who didn’t bother shouting “Can we have some help in here?” but sat with her till she came round. Unluckily, the monk was a friend of Tara’s patient, who was in line for the experimental Herzig 3 artificial heart, and the monk didn’t think his friend should risk having the procedure. Persuade him not to have it, the monk said, and I won’t tell anyone about your fits. You could tell from this that he wasn’t exactly gold-standard monk material. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.19) Good old Dr Oliver Valentine. He’s only gone and found someone in Baltimore who can possibly sort out Dr Tara Lo’s brain tumour. Hurrah! Problem is, the Baltimore expert has only had good results on tumours that have behaved themselves and not got any bigger for a long time – and apparently Tara’s has started getting bigger. Oli doesn’t know this, because she doesn’t tell him very much. He hasn’t noticed, either, that she’s gone a bit absent-minded (he’s used to Elliot Hope) and when she passed out in the washroom and bashed her head on a basin, he was content to accept her explanation that a slippery floor was to blame. Meanwhile, Tara has included herself in her own study of “The Psychology of Mortality in the Young” (it’s going to be a gripping read when it’s finished) as Patient X.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one evening, we had Dr Gemma Wilde in deadly danger. Remember Dean, who’d been in the war in Sierra Leone and who forced Dr Luc Hemingway to start getting to grips with his past? He was back. His estranged wife was a patient and because Dean is more than a bit disturbed, he wasn’t allowed to see her. It all culminated in Dean, Mrs Dean and Gemma locked in a room together and Gemma having to intubate the wife with the aid of Sacha on speaker-phone. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.18) They’re such a professional bunch at Holby City hospital. This week we had Michael letting his parenting feud with Annalise cloud his judgement (it was a continuing cloud from last week), Serena breaking the rules to put her mother first and then putting her mother second to her job, and Oliver Valentine in an almighty sulk with Professor Elliott Hope. Thank goodness there’s Chantelle.
To AAU first, where Michael discovered that there are consequences to labelling people as child abusers, particularly when those people have the sort of neighbours who automatically think that means paedophiles, and that automatically gives them the right to set fire to someone’s home. The mother of last week’s abuse suspect, Mandy (Lucy Speed off of EastEnders), was brought in with burns and various other injuries. And she did not want Michael Spence anywhere near her, because he’d had her son taken into care and he kept kicking off and going all shouty. Actually, Michael is quite marvellous when he kicks off, and so is Sacha when he has to be quietly authoritative, so I enjoyed the scenes where Sacha tried to calm Michael down very much indeed. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.17) The official title of the episode was ‘Spence’s Choice - Part 1,’ so this naturally directs my attention towards AAU first. Spence’s choice was whether to report a suspected case of child abuse to Social Services. The child had been hurt in a car accident, but X-rays showed some old injuries and the boy’s step-father had a previous record of violence. You can see where Michael was coming from in jumping to conclusions, and Chrissie was right behind him, muttering sentences beginning with, “What parent in their right mind could…” at every opportunity. Gemma and Sacha, however, advised a more cautious approach. Week after week in Holby we see that a cautious approach is usually the right one, but Michael’s not a naturally cautious man, and his judgement was a tad clouded by ongoing parenting tussles with estranged lollipop-headed wife Annalise.
It all ended up with Michael almost getting punched, incurring the displeasure of Ric Griffin and causing the mother to try and take the child away from the hospital. She was spotted from the Window of Regret by Michael and Chrissie. The mother (Lucy Speed off of EastEnders) said the family had all been ok until Michael started his meddling.
The theme of people being better off living in blissful ignorance ran through all three storylines this week. On Keller, Digby was having his assessment and his patient was a rather tricky case, what with him being from another planet and that. Different anatomy and physiology altogether from us humans. Digby’s first impulse was to bin him off to the psych ward, but the radiant Chantelle had dealt with trickier patients than that in her time. Chantelle really is a brilliant nurse, and showed Digby that a bit of patience, understanding and empathy can get you a long way. Digby doesn’t naturally possess any of these qualities, so he lucked out when he got placed on a ward with Chantelle – though he threw it back in her face later with a mean, “You’re just a nurse so you wouldn’t understand” comment. Continue reading