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Law and Order UK: Breaking Brooks

Slid back into its slot for one last time after an absence of several weeks, the momentum had been somewhat lost since the dramatic events of the previous Law and Order episode, in which Wes was killed and DS Ronnie Brooks faced a struggle coming to terms with events.

In this episode (which has now been confirmed as the last, as Bradley Walsh is leaving the role), the force faced a particularly challenging case of a stabbing committed by a fifteen year old caught up in the dark world of street gangs.

law and orderVarious mishaps, including insufficient forensic evidence and a particularly rottweiler duty solicitor, led to the prime suspect being released without charge twice, an injustice which began to affect Ronnie significantly given the lads’ constant taunts of him. As events came to a head and a gang of youths ended up being searched for knives, Ronnie claimed that the suspect made a gloating confession about the murder. We did not see this happen, but we did not have to as no viewer doubted Ronnie’s honesty. This is a character who has developed and led eight series of this drama and there was never any questions with the audience over who was telling the truth.   Continue reading

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Law and Order UK: Criminally underrated

Nestled inconspicuously in the midweek 9pm slot, Law and Order UK is one of TV’s constants. Already eight seasons in, it’s a subtle staple of the schedules that rarely fails to deliver on all fronts. The format is quick and snappy, derived from a USA counterpart and, at times, the fast paced stories can seem rushed and contrived. However, the knowledge that a resolution to the mystery will become clear within the hour timeslot and we will see the plot unfold from the crime to the verdict and often beyond, is comforting.bradley-walsh

Law and Order UK does not pretend to be anything other than an hour of entertaining and easy to follow drama. There is no pretension here; a crime is committed, every character we meet will undoubtedly have played some vital part in the story (there is simply no time for many red herrings) and the police are a little bit too sharp in situations where the resolution can stretch the imagination. It doesn’t matter though; take Law and Order UK for what it is, and the hour flies by.

It is a little idealistic, usually painting the police and the prosecution team as heroic mavericks desperate only for the truth come out. Similarly, defence lawyers are painted as snarling and sneaky villains, searching for a loophole to get their crook off the hook. It’s a premise that works so long as you aren’t looking for a documentary.   Continue reading

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Casualty: We’re not going to die here tonight

(Series 26, Ep.16) If you haven’t seen this episode yet, stop reading now before I spoil it for you as thoroughly as my dear old dad spoiled it for me by telling me the end two days before I managed to see the episode. Them’s the perils of Sky+.

Well then. Gosh. A two-part episode of Casualty, featuring a fire, explosions, a child locked in a locker, Dr Zoe Hanna and Dr Dylan trapped in Resus with only a bottle of gin to keep them going and Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren and pregnant Dr Ruth Winters forced to escape the conflagration via the air conditioning ducts.

And no-one died. Can you imagine? All of that tension and all of those special effects and Casualty, the most corpse-littered show on TV, comes up with a happy ending. I did not see it coming (ok, I did – thanks, dad). Ruth had dumped Jay the previous week. When things are going right for Ruth she expects them to go wrong, so she tries to blow up the situation herself before it blows up anyway. Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren has proved over the years that he’s not so easy to get rid of, and he wasn’t taking no for an answer. While he was telling Ruth that he wasn’t taking no for an answer, the rest of the hospital was on fire, but the fire alarms had been disabled and R and J had their phones switched off, so they didn’t know.

They soon found out, obviously, promptly rescued the girl trapped in the locker and the three of them discovered all exits were blocked and the only way was up – via the air con to the roof.  Frankly, it all looked hopelessly doomed. “We’re not going to die here tonight,” Jay told Ruth, with the conviction of A Man In Love. Continue reading

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Casualty: #RJ forever

(Series 26, Ep.14) I never manage to watch Casualty in real time and have to rely on Sky+ or iPlayer. This is mainly because my other half is squeamish. He can cope with the gore, but he can’t cope with the suspense of waiting for the nasty accidents to occur. So while Casualty is on, I’m generally watching The X Factor, with one eye on Twitter (mainly for the amusing comments of @themanwhofell and our very own X Factor queen, @sabfrancis). And because a lot of the people I follow on Twitter are Casualty fans, recently I’ve been seeing a lot of the hashtag #RJForever.

“RJ” are, of course, Ruth and Jay, AKA Dr Ruth Winters and Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren. Because they have tiresomely monosyllabic names, they can’t be mushed together in a Brangelina/Subo sort of way. Ruey or Juth both sound silly. So they have become RJ – the same initials as Romeo and Juliet, how apt is that?  Continue reading

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Casualty: That old Casualty feeling of doom

(Series 26, Ep.10) I have to admit, I’m worried about Dr Ruth Winters and Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren. They’re too happy! It’s a lovely sight to see. He brings her a packed lunch to work (flying saucers and peanut butter and jam sandwiches with the crusts off. She so looks like an organic quinoa type person, too). He sends her flowers. They pretend to say goodbye to each other at the end of the shift but everyone knows they’re going home together. It’s all adorable. But this much happiness can’t last. We know this because it’s Casualty, and happiness never does last, but we also know that Georgia Taylor and Ben Turner are leaving (Waaaahhh!!!) and their exit is going to be “explosive and heart stopping.” As I say, I’m worried.

Aside from this gorgeous, yet most probably doomed, romance, last Saturday’s episode continued the grim and depressing story of Lush Linda’s attempts to save a woman, Annie,  from a life of heroine addiction, prostitution and being regularly beaten up by horrible men. This has been a really sad and brutal story, well acted by Naomi Bentley as Annie and Christine Tremarco as Linda, but rather making me hanker for a farmer’s-arm-in-combine-harvester type of Casualty incident.

The other big case of the night involved Vicky Binns (formerly Coronation Street’s Molly) playing an autistic girl who was being upset by her mother’s garish taste in home decoration and clothing. Before Dr Dylan managed to work out that this was the problem, he and Dr Sam were competing to come up with a diagnosis. And it seems they have a bit of a History together. But what is it? Dr Zoe Hanna was curious. After all, Sam is young enough to be his daughter. She’s not his daughter, is she? I’m happy to leave this one in Zoe’s capable hands. She’ll manage to crack him sooner or later.

Cracking Sam may have to be done by Tess, who had to reprimand the feisty ex-army medic for her superior attitude. When Sam moaned about an annoying patient, Tess couldn’t be doing with her “I’ve been to Afghanistan, I know what proper suffering is,” and told her to “Suck it up, Princess.” You have to love Tess.

Next time: Lenny takes his eye off the ball when he gets news about Mads.

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Casualty: Think of me as your complacency monitor

(Series 26, Ep.6) Now we have an explanation for all those times (like last week) when Charlie hasn’t been around. He hasn’t been indulging in a new passion for golf or train spotting or looking after adorable granddaughter Megan. He’s been running a drugs clinic with Nurse Linda. He’s passionate about it, as well. Even though we didn’t know previously that it even existed, this week we had to believe it was a vital service to the community. And we did believe it, because Charlie believes it and he’s the Sincerest Man on Television.

It’s hard to justify the expense in a cash-strapped NHS hospital, though. In case we weren’t aware of the issues, Jay and Scarlett had a concisely-scripted debate about the pros and cons of providing drugs to addicts in a clinical setting. One of the cons has got to be when a psycho holds a syringe to your throat and says he’s going to turn you into a “very unhappy bunny” if you don’t give him all the drugs. This happened to Charlie, so Linda gave the psycho all the drugs. Then poor old guest star Tina O’Brien, finding she couldn’t get drugs from Charlie’s officially approved source, went to a man who had them. The psycho. Continue reading

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Casualty: Everything you need from a Casualty episode

(Series 26, Ep.5)  If we were playing Fantasy Casualty, how would the episode start? With an out-of-control vehicle, probably. What about a mobility scooter? Grumpy old man careering along the pavement, it can’t end well. A near miss with a stack of library books, a collision with a car narrowly avoided, but dodging to avoid some bikes sends him hurtling down a steep embankment towards a tree. But one casualty isn’t enough for Casualty. How’s about we throw in a tug-of-love boy and a trampoline? You know how dangerous trampolines can be. But he’s off the trampoline and he’s safe! There’s always the rope ladder…

A classic Casualty opener, then. Ambulances hurtling towards Holby City laden with a pair of  interesting and tricky cases, both of whom have a couple of twists in store.

The episode would obviously need to have a junior staff member learning valuable lessons about life and work. In this case, it was Lloyd. He learned never to judge a book by its cover, even when it’s a Kindle, and never to think that horrible old men are just being horrible because they’re old men.

There’d need to be a gory procedure, preferably one that had even Holby-hardened me covering my eyes and wincing. Drilling a hole in a patient’s skull would do nicely, particularly if it was Nick Jordan doing the drilling.

And finally, ideally you’d want a bit of romance, and to be perfect it would be Dr Ruth Winters thanking Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren for having faith in her, and him replying, “I’ve always got your back.” And the episode ending with them kissing. Sigh.

Ok, so Charlie was absent from the episode, which technically disqualifies it from being Classic Casualty. But it came pretty close.

Next time: A punch-up at a wake.

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Casualty: Judgement calls

(Series 41, Ep.4) The word “judge” and variations thereof came up again and again in this episode. People were jumping to conclusions about people and situations, whether good or bad, and the message from old hands like Tess and Charlie was that judging is Not What We’re Here For.

Lovely Staff Nurse Faldren judged that newbie nurse Lloyd was a little bit too cocky and needed taking down a peg or several. A neat way to do this was to leave him to clear up an old man’s horribly abscessed leg. Tess was quite cross about that one when she found out, and Jay got a good telling off. This wasn’t before Lloyd had done a bit of judging himself (of a patient who seemed like a have-a-go-hero, but was actually a sad attention-seeker who’d shot himself with a nail gun – on several occasions), which ended up with him having a pair of scissors held to his neck and Jay having to bail him out.

Dr Zoe Hanna, meanwhile, was looking radiant despite looking like she should have gone to Specsavers – she was wearing nasty specs because she hadn’t had time to put her contact lenses in. It would be natural to assume this was because she’d been out on the lash and had dragged herself into work with a force 9 hangover, but actually she’d been sleeping in the on-call room and got disturbed for an emergency. We really shouldn’t judge Dr Zoe Hanna. The relationship between Zoe and Dr Dylan is coming along nicely. She likes a challenge, and she knows exactly how to play an arrogant and curmudgeonly man – Nick Jordan was excellent training for her in that respect.

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Casualty: Adam knows best

(Series 25, Ep.44) Last week, we were informed that Adam has a “god complex.” Frankly I’m not seeing it, myself. What I’m seeing is a doctor who’s trying to do the best for his patients and grappling with moral dilemmas. He doesn’t always choose the path through the moral dilemma that others would, but that’s the nature of moral dilemmas and it certainly doesn’t mean you’ve got a god complex.

Maverick Nurse Kirsty disagrees with me, because Adam is way more maverick than she is at the moment, and she’s not happy. This is the woman who used to enjoy testing rules to breaking point. Anyway, the moral maze in which Adam found himself this week concerned a man who was dying of mesothelioma, which he’d got by being in contact with asbestos from his father’s factory. He was about to testify in a law suit against the company, currently owned by his brother, Gary Kemp out of Spandau Ballet. Gary really needed the brother out of the way so he didn’t testify, and tried to persuade Adam that his patient didn’t want to be resuscitated. Adam saw through the handiness of this scheme, however, so Gary resorted to a spot of cyanide poisoning. This unlikely eventuality was spotted by Dr Dylan Keogh, and Gary ended up in the police station, and the brother lived just long enough to do his testimony via video link. Maverick Nurse Kirsty was cross that Adam chose to tell the brother that Gary had tried to kill him. “It wasn’t your call, Adam,” she told him. Technically, maybe not – but Adam’s actions seemed fairly sound to me.   Continue reading

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Casualty: I’m so proud of you, Mr Collier/Dr Winters/Nurse Andrews

(Series 25, Ep.41) The broad theme of this episode was acceptance of your own strengths and weaknesses. Paramedic Jeff, Lush Linda and Dr Ruth Winters all learned valuable life lessons over the course of fifty minutes.

Jeff first, and he was still fretting about Karl, the cousin of the College Shooter. Remember last week, when Karl’s new girlfriend came a cropper on a railway line, and Karl went off in an angsty strop? Jeff was convinced that Karl was off to Do Something Stupid. “It’s not your responsibility,” Dixie told her troubled colleague. He ignored this advice because he was getting his instructions from Polly. She may be dead, but her handy book of quotations was still around to lend a spot of guidance when needed, and it was currently falling open at a page that said: “When the call comes, the great man always answers or chooses to live with a lifetime of regret.” Deep, huh? Not wanting to live with a lifetime of regret, Jeff decided to track Karl down, and, as expected, he was roaming the corridors of Holby College with his hood up and a rucksack over his shoulder, looking for all the world like he was trying to find a good vantage point to do a spot of shooting.

Only he wasn’t. He was replacing mobile phones he nicked earlier, because he’s turned over a new leaf and he’s a good boy now, such is the power of Polly, even posthumously. Heck, he even diagnosed a girl who was having a TIA. We’ll make a paramedic of him yet! There were a couple of niggles to iron out, such as him trying to dangle the girl’s boyfriend over a balcony  in A&E, and the fact that he’d known that his cousin had a gun but hadn’t told anyone, but that was all easily sorted out. And Jeffrey was left with a good feeling. He’d helped Karl out, and no longer felt the need to be Polly’s emissary on Planet Earth. The book of quotations went into the bin. “I’m so proud of you, Mr Collier,” said Dixie.   Continue reading

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