Hospital Series is a Cynical Success
Monroe -- At last a British miniseries that is not about police or private detectives! It is called "Monroe" after its lead character and all of its six 45-minute episodes are highly enjoyable.
Gabriel Monroe (James Nesbitt) is a top neurosurgeon, who delights in his own ways of training his interns. The best example is the incident in which he is giving the usual and clichéd "I won’t blame you if you back out" speech when one of their own is the emergency patient. When they all predictably stand fast, he says without emotion, "Good, because I was lying to you." I have learned that British heads of hospital departments are called "Mister" rather than "Doctor." The reasons why will take too long to give here.
Alas, there are the all-too-predictable personal problems miniseries leads seem prone to. In this case Monroe’s wife is leaving him and his son is scarcely speaking to him. Such problems have become a sine qua non in British TV; and I wish future script writers would let the star have troubles pertaining only to the job.
The co-star is Sarah Parrish, who plays the cardiologist Jenny Bremmer. Where Monroe treats his patients with a good deal of humorous encouragement and their families with wonderful understanding, Bremmer is like an ice queen, who can speak only in terms of the patient’s medical condition without
There is much talk among the male physicians about sex with this one and that, and some of it actually affects the plot to some extent. Yes, there is a good deal of "MASH" in "Monroe."
The picture is in 16:9 widescreen and there are subtitles.
Murdoch Mysteries 4 -- It is still the late 1890s in the city of Toronto in this fourth season of "Murdoch Mysteries" on four Acorn Media DVDs. When the third series ended, Detective William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) raced to the train station to propose to his beloved Dr. Julia Ogden (Helene Joy), who for reasons later made clear had accepted a job in Buffalo, N.Y. This series is based on the novels of Maureen Jennings.
This fourth series begins with his getting used to the fact that she is engaged to a perfectly suitable gentleman and his getting on with the job. As always, he is assisted by the Watson character, Constable Crabtree (Jonny Harris), and hampered by his boss Inspector Brackenreid (Thomas Craig), who has been tempted into running for political office.
The first series had two gimmicks. Murdoch was able to stand in the scene of a crime and (not unlike the comic Monk) imagine what had happened. He also began to devise things that anticipated inventions of the future. The viewer’s willing suspension of disbelief made this a looked-for feature of the series. However, willingness is stretched when Murdoch comes up with a device that anticipates sending pictures by wire.
Some of the plots are quite original, especially the last one in which Murdoch finds himself the prime suspect of a murder (nothing new here) that takes place at an Alice in Wonderland party in which he is the Mad Hatter! I will not spoil the cliffhanger at the end of that episode, which doubtless sets up the opening of Series 5.
I am happy to report that they have done away with that loud whoosh during establishing shots and are now using a lower whoosh instead.
Good fun all around.
Each of the 13 episodes are 46 minutes long, the picture is in 16:9 widescreen ratio, and there subtitles.
Nostalgias Argentinas -- A most beautiful CD has been issued on the Steinway & Sons label titled "Nostalgias Argentinas," which is easily translatable. Mirian Cohen is the solo pianist in this program of 19 selections by Argentinean composers.
Because their names are really new to me, I should mention a few: Remo Pignoni, Emilio Balcare, Horacio Salgan, Carlos Guastavino, Pedros Saenz and Carlos Lopez Buchardo.
The notes point out that Argentina has long sought a "national voice." While most of the selections are based on popular and folk dances, one can detect the influence of such European composers as Chopin, Prokofiev, Schubert and Franck. The program notes are most helpful.
Note: This is my 700th review for this paper. I hope I have served my readers well.
Frank Behrens reports on classical and Broadway music as well as recordings of books and plays for the Arts & Entertainment section.