Balancing a heavy workload with a developing morphine habit, the young doctor finds it increasingly difficult to conceal his burgeoning addiction from his colleagues. After one humiliation too many, ...
The Darkest Parts Of Humour, where laughter is the only pain relief
Based all on what I've seen of Series 1 only. What to say, eh? Writing this whilst I watch episode 4, again. That's my biggest endorsement of all. Each time watching adds to the depth of it all. And I want to watch it again. People will define this show by many non essential things, the accuracy to the texts its based off, the cast of English actors and of course that this series is defined by Daniel Radcliffe playing the main character. None of it matters for the show we get, as a stand alone, it stands high.
The premise, in 1934 Moscow the Older Doctor is recounting his years as Young Doctor who, fresh out of his doctorate, is sent to run a hospital in the middle of nowhere. From here we see the doctor grow from his naïve book smarts into the stark reality of his situation.
To start it's a comedy for sure, but it holds plenty of drama. Both come equally when needed and play off each other well, think a tragic comedy and you have the basic idea. The jokes range from the minor slapstick to the darkest laughter, and easily not for people who can't laugh at the tragedy that life holds. They're all there for a purpose, the laughter sets up and releases the tension creating a good pace throughout the episodes. The themes are extensive and deep, addiction, loneliness, life experiences, death, healthcare through doctors and patients, and of course medicine. And those are just the heavy themes, there are even themes of sexuality, nature vs artificiality, mentors, past mistakes and many more.
It's well written, it shows a lot and doesn't tell you everything. Characters are well defined, each play their part in the narrative and the dialogue is very well done. Both of the Doctors grow over the series, where from the begin they are totally different by the end. There's a great retrospective segment in the last episode, and by this time we're shown the vast differences between the two. The production is great, you feel like you're there, in the cold, in the operating room, the locations are alive in their own way. The cast act their roles well enough, some characters don't have the breadth of depth as they might, but this is the doctors story and not theirs of course.
I come away from A Young Doctor's Notebook thinking. How can I laugh at tragedy? These stories are based off the experience of the original author, Bulgakov, when he was a doctor himself and we can only imagine the horror of healthcare back then and how it relates to modern medicine. Nietzche says we humans laugh because we realise we are going to die. And here I am now, watching it again, realising that the best pain killer will always be laughter in the face of that horror.
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