(Series 15, ep.39) It was the final episode for the man we’ve come to know fondly over the years as Young Dr Oliver Valentine. James Anderson has left for pastures new (including an episode of Poirot, apparently, which is excellent news – Mr PLA and I love to settle down in front of a good Poirot on a damp Sunday afternoon). I’ll miss Ollie, but more for the character he used to be than the one he’s been recently. As emotions go, sadness is not the most fun one to watch, and the poor lad has been immersed in sadness since the death of the lovely Tara.
James Anderson does misery beautifully, what with having those amazing blue eyes that brim with tears at the drop of a sad hat, and he also does anger really well – the scene recently where he nastily let rip at Prof Hope was shocking and upsetting to behold. Oliver’s reaction to Tara’s death, which was basically to put up a wall against the world, tell everybody everything was fine, and then shout a lot was realistic and consistent with his previous reaction to Penny’s death, but from a viewer perspective it maybe went on a bit too long and got just a little bit boring. It overshadowed the things I’ve always loved about Oliver – his fun side, his way with a witty one-liner, his kindness, his relationships with the other staff members.
Thank goodness, then, that we had a little glimpse of this right before he left in two touching and perfectly crafted scenes, one with Jac and the other with Elliot. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.37) Sacha and Chrissie. Did it all start out so promisingly? Not really. A one night stand that resulted in My Son Daniel. An intervening “romance” with Dull/Gay Dan. A wedding that probably wouldn’t have happened if Jac hadn’t issued a subtle threat. And months and months of patients and hospital visitors telling Chrissie that she’s waaay too gorgeous and wonderful for dear old Sacha, and her blushing prettily and agreeing with them.
I wanted it to work out, because I want Sacha to be happy, but it was never going to last. Sacha never thought he was good enough, Chrissie always thought she was too good. I liked how, when the break came, it came as a result of a situation that was morally and emotionally complicated, rather than the more obvious route of Chrissie having an affair, or the less obvious route of Sacha having one. My sympathy for Chrissie has fluctuated over the last few weeks, with last week’s behaviour in the red button episode being particularly unimpressive, but this week I did feel sorry for the way she was sidelined in the Levy Family Drama (Helen was good value, though). Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.36) Possibly it doesn’t help that I watched the second half of this episode before I watched the first half, due to social circumstances, but even after I watched it again in the right order I still felt a little confused.
It seems I was completely wrong last week about Dr Posh and Ollie being a fun team. This week Dr Posh was being a bit of a dick and was apparently just there to be a thorn in Oliver’s already aggrieved side. In fact, Dr Posh doesn’t seem to have had the same personality for more than two weeks running. Is it any wonder I prefer Digby? You know where you are with Digby.
What I am sure about is that Ollie’s scathing attack on Elliot at the end of the episode, even though we knew it was out of grief and he was turning on the person he feels closest to, was absolutely shocking. He wanted to make Elliot hurt as much as he was hurting, and bringing up the manner of Gina’s death in such brutal terms was quite stomach-turning and far more shocking than him physically pushing Elliot.
Ollie really needs to follow Jac’s advice and stop with the Tiny Tears act and man up. James Anderson has eyes which are perfectly designed to be brimming with tears (“Such pain hiding behind those beautiful blue eyes,” as his patient pointed out), and his acting in this episode was brilliant, but he’s also great at the comedy stuff, which he hasn’t had the chance to do recently. Frankly I’m as worn out as Jac is by all the grief. Even Ollie’s counsellor is thinking he’s wallowing a bit. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.35) Michael Spence is really at his finest when he gets emotionally involved with his patients (not in a sleazy sense, you understand; I’m talking purely professionally). When his heart is as engaged as his head, he gets all kick-ass like the time he thrust Little George Binns’ head at a corpse.
This week he struggled with the difficulties of being an extremely long-distance parent, with daughter Jasmine about to land at Holby International Airport any minute and Michael still up to his elbows in gastric unpleasantness. The patient who tugged at his heart-strings (and mine, I have to admit) was Seb, a young man who was dying of cancer. Seb had the weirdest father ever – a beardy man who looked a tad like Brian Blessed and seemed to have the emotional range of Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Seb’s mother had popped to Uganda on some unspecified business, neither of them apparently thinking that they should really be with their son. They were a stoic sort of family all round, with Seb fairly comfortable with the idea he didn’t have long left – although he was afraid of pain. Michael decided he wanted to surgically buy Seb some more time to see his mother, and the only time the beardy dad showed he really cared was to kiss his son’s forehead before he went into theatre.
The surgery was less successful than it could have been, and Seb had to get used to the idea of his death all over again. Michael felt guilty, but possibly not as guilty as he felt when Jasmine’s plane landed early and Ric Griffin smugly did the chauffeuring honours. Jasmine is fantastic, and I loved how she swanned along the corridors with Digby struggling after her with a pile of luggage. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.34) Due to house moving etc, I’m still forced to watch Holby City on iPlayer with very poor bandwidth. Maybe it summarises my feelings about this episode when I tell you I didn’t especially mind the regular pauses for “buffering.”
What was wrong with it? No Darwin, hardly any doctoring, and two, rather tedious, storylines. I hate being critical, honestly I do, but once in a while a dud episode happens along and this was it.
The Coroners Court scenes were dull and even the presence of the sublime Guy Henry failed to lift them. It was only at the end when it really came to life. Dominic put his bunny-boiling scheme into action by claiming that Malick had given Amanda Layton a drug to suppress her respiratory system. Digby saved the day with a wodge of research to show the aforementioned drug would have a completely different effect (wouldn’t Hanssen have known this?). It looked like Dominic’s career as a doctor was in ruins and he’d have to fall back to being a hair model, but Malick stepped up to the witness-box and came clean about his “error of judgement” in ripping the jeans off his junior colleague. Understandably, Nathan was none too happy and left the courtroom, but it was the first time Malick has really shown much of a backbone. Continue reading
(Series 15, ep.32) Oliver Valentine thinks the only people Jac Naylor can relate to are people who are anaesthetised and on her operating table. This is not actually true. The people Jac Naylor can relate to, or who can relate to her, are straightforward, honest people. People with, aptly enough, open hearts.
The living embodiment of this quality is Sacha Levy, which partly explains why scenes involving him and Jac are always so lovely. They’re also rare, because they don’t work on the same ward, so it was marvellous this week when an elderly patient (from a very sweet storyline) asked Sacha to be present in his wife’s operation, thus putting Sacha and Jac in the same operating theatre.
Sacha was worried about his daughter, whose leukaemia isn’t responding to treatment. Jac’s response to this news was some of her top-grade emotionally expressive eye work, given that she was wearing a surgical mask at the time. Later, Sacha asked Jac to shave his hair, so he could show a united front with Rachel who was worried about being “puffy and bald.” This was a completely perfect scene, as Sacha wasn’t the only one with child-based worries. Jac was wondering whether she had the qualities to ever be a mother. Sacha said of course she did, and the expression on Jac’s face was wonderful (like Guy Henry, Rosie Marcel’s acting is ninja level). “A tiny Naylor. There’s a thought,” said Sacha, sweetly. Continue reading
(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