'Maybury' is a splendid example of the sort of television drama that
British production companies do so very well, and which American
production companies always do badly. The setting for this series is
the psychiatric unit of Maybury General Hospital, and accordingly the
central theme is the treatment of mental illness. This is exactly the
sort of subject which Yank television shows can never depict honestly.
In most American medical dramas, it goes like this: a patient suffering
from chronic mental illness has a sudden epiphany about some childhood
incident, and is miraculously cured in a single one-hour episode, with
time left over for commercials and an emotional monologue by the kindly
doctor. It doesn't help that the mental illnesses depicted in American
TV dramas tend to be contrived and implausible. I saw one recently
about a mental patient who thought he was Superman, and had to be
constantly prevented from flying out the window. (I know a quick way to
cure this guy: put him in a ward on the upper storey, and leave the
Refreshingly and intelligently, 'Maybury' consistently shows that
recovery from mental illness is a life-long struggle, and the series
emphasises this by placing the patients in multi-episode story arcs.
Also, it helps that the patients in this series have plausible and
realistic mental illnesses. We meet, for example, an Irishwoman named
Maisie (Pauline Delaney): a recluse who allows her house to fall into
disrepair while she creates bizarre oil paintings and acquires a large
contingent of stray animals. Is Maisie a nutter, or merely an
eccentric? Also admitted to Maybury is housewife Julia, played by the
beautiful Suzanne Bertish. Julia is an agoraphobe, terrified of leaving
her home. Another patient is Alice (Sylvestra Le Touzel), a mysterious
woman who wears a scarf over her face and gives conflicting accounts of
her past. The most frightening case on offer here (and a chillingly
plausible one) is that of Larry Chalmers (Norman Eshley), who can see
his own mirror-image spying on him.
At the centre of the bedlam is Dr Edward Roebuck. Actor Patrick Stewart
gives a stand-out performance in this role, projecting authority and
intelligence. I expect that audience interest in the 'X-Men' and 'Star
Trek' films will prompt some viewers to seek out 'Maybury' purely on
the basis of Stewart's presence in the lead role. Anything that gets
viewers to watch 'Maybury' is fine with me. This excellent series is
consistently well-scripted, with a fine cast, and I'll rate 'Maybury' 9
out of 10.
10 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?