Medical Comedy Worth a Check Up


BBC America’s latest series import Green Wing brings new meaning to bedside manner, laying the idiosyncrasies, romantic trysts and everyday nonsense of the hospital staff on the table for examination.

The series begins as surgical resident Dr. Caroline Todd (Tamzin Greig, Black Books) arrives for her first day on the job unshowered and exhausted, having slept in her car while locked out of her house. Egotistical Swedish anesthetist Guy Secrertan (Stephen Mangan, Billy Eliot), offers her the keys to his flat for the night, then leads the staff to believe they’ve had a romantic link. While fighting for her reputation, Todd is persuaded to take in Dr. Angela Hunter (Sarah Alexander) as a roommate, despite being uncomfortable with the slightly affectionate attention her fellow resident lavishes upon her.

On the surface, the characters read quite pat, especially with the young and attractive surgeon Dr. MaCartney (Julian Rhind-Nutt, Notting Hill) and the socially uncoordinated radiologist Dr. Stratham (Mark Heap, About a Boy), who is consumed by his not-so-undercover love affair with human resources director Joanna Clore (Pippa Haywood).

But as the chemistry begins to gel, the combination of characters and multiple storylines reveals a well-crafted, often laugh-out-loud comedy that plays as a delicate balance of The Office meets Grey’s Anatomy, sans heavy drama. Intermittently off-pace camera work highlights the comedic action as a light touch of physical humor manages to entertain without being too full of schtick.

The sheer quirkiness of the staff is comfortably amusing and senselessly offbeat, especially the helplessly neurotic liaison Sue White (Michelle Gomez) whose antics know no boundaries from counseling staff in costume, offering magic potions or casting spells on those who disagree with her.

The everyday doldrums — one staff member wages a poster campaign when his yogurt is moved in the refrigerator — help to balance out the silliness and pace the storylines. Overall, the strength of the show is in its simplicity. It’s just plain funny in an everyday sort of way and you don’t need a track to cue your laughter.

Created, produced and devised by Victoria Pile, who also directs on some installments, the nine-episode season is executive-produced by Peter Fincham. Taking off when another Thursday night medical skein is about to go on summer holiday, Green Wing makes its U.S. premiere on BBC America May 19 at 10 p.m. (ET)/ 11 p.m. (PT).