I stumbled upon the DVD of Series 1 of ‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’ and bought it purely because of Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm’s faces on the cover. I’m easy like that…but I never expected to find a real gem.
‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’ is set in 1917 in a very small, rural village in Russia where the Doctor (played in his younger years by Daniel Radcliffe and in his older years by Jon Hamm) is sent to work straight out of University. It is a BBC production and is currently angling for a series 3, so keep your eyes peeled! (Note: Up until recently, I did not know that Brits call their seasons ‘series’). punnery.wordpress.com
Series 1 only has 4 episodes that run about 26 minutes a pop, making the whole thing about the length of a feature film. So if you hate it…you haven’t wasted much time. But if you love it like I did…you will be instantly craving more. Bear in mind this is a very dark show and is not at all meant for children. There is gruesome humor, lots and lots of blood, and very real medical dilemmas, but the splendor of it comes from Radcliffe and Hamm, who often share the screen, almost living in parallel universes, with the Older Doctor giving advice to his younger counterpart.
What I particularly enjoyed is that Radcliffe is moving away from his ‘Harry Potter’ roots by taking on such a different role in a long line of many bold choices, but he doesn’t lose that likeability he became famous for. You really feel for him as he stumbles around the freezing cold, middle-of- nowhere clinic with his imposing nurses and under the shadow of his predecessor, Leopold Leopoldivic. He’s green behind the ears when it comes to being a doctor and is always running back to his room to try and consult his books anytime a patient comes in.
In this way, the series starts off on a comical note, as the Doctor gets into a routine, but the meat of this show comes through the ‘flash-forwards’ to the Doctor in his older years who is a very serious morphine addict. There is a very chilling moment when the older Doctor convinces his younger self to start the habit which changes his life forever.
Watch it for the peak into Russian history. Watch it if you like dark comedies or are bored of traditional medical shows. Watch it for the two amazing leading men. But just watch ‘The Young Doctor’s Notebook’. And if you do, tell me about it!