Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Brilliant Lunacy of “Green Wing”

First, some caveat emptoring: “Green Wing,” a spectacularly inventive British comedy that ran for 18 episodes between ‘04 and ’06, is not everyone’s cup of Earl Grey. It’s so rude, crude, and sexually incorrect that some viewers will turn it off within 20 minutes, maybe less.
All I ask is that you watch two full episodes to get used to the quick cutting, ridiculous characters and often mystifying journey into absurdity. If you don’t dig the show by then, chalk it up to my bum critical skills.
Set in a hospital and focusing on doctors and staff, “Green Wing” thankfully eschews one of the staples of medical series: patients play no part in the proceedings. They’re rarely viewed, have no lines. There are no life lessons, no at-the-end-we’re-all-in-this-together shtick. It’s not “M*A*S*H” or “Scrubs” (thank the gods it’s not “Scrubs”).
“Green Wing” is a deft combo of sketch comedy and sit-com with elements of “Monty Python,” “Benny Hill,” Fry and Laurie, the usual gang of idiots from Mad’s glory days, Lewis Carroll and “Fawlty Towers” (one character, Dr. Alan Statham (Mark Heap) could be Basil Fawlty’s bastard son).
The sole traditional narrative thread revolves around Dr. Caroline Todd (Tamsin Greig) and her evolving relationship with star surgeon Dr. Macartney (Julian Rhind-Tutt), the physician many of the more insane and funny characters desire, including Sue White (Michelle Gomez), a staff liaison administrator who may or may not have magical powers (several times she’s seen leading a camel through the hospital hallways—no explanation given).
The cast is game for anything. Gomez and Heap are particularly gifted physical actors, as is Pippa Haywood as Joanna Clore, the world’s horniest and nastiest human resources chief.
Start with episode one and work your way forward. The not-entirely successful 90-minute finale wraps up the series in its own strange way, consistent with what has preceded.
Give “Green Wing” a shot. If you hate it, you’re forgiven. If you love it, I’ll feel really good to know there are simpatico, perverse souls out there who embrace more anarchic forms of TV viewing.


Blogger CATSIP (California Active Transportation Safety Information Pages) said...

Vince, so glad to see your lovely efforts to spread the word about GW.

5:40 PM  
Blogger darby532 said...

Mr. Cosgrove...are you the same Cosgrove that co-authored Tin For Sale?

GK Darby
Garrett County Press
darbygk [at] gmail [dot] com

2:33 PM  
Blogger Vince Cosgrove said...

Dear GK Darby,
Guilty as charged.

4:54 PM  

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