Sunday, February 10, 2008

What The Hell Has Happened To Casualty?

There's no pleasing some people. Especially me.
For years I sneered at the formulaic nature of Casualty (BBC1). But now it's gone all weird and pretentious, I yearn for the old days.

I was never a regular viewer but would sometimes watch the first 15 minutes which traditionally involved a slow and predictable build-up to an accident. As soon as the dodgy window-cleaning cradle had plunged from the skyscraper and we were back in the hospital with someone screaming for two pints of cross-matched and Charlie standing around scratching the back of his head, I would usually switch to something a little lighter and less likely to put me off my dinner.

Like The Bill, Casualty no longer does stand-alone episodes. They don't like elective viewers. They want to lock you in to long-running storylines. So last night's Casualty made little sense if you hadn't seen the preceding episodes. I'm not sure it made any sense, full stop. Much of it was flashbacks based on the diary of a nurse who had killed herself the week before. These were shot in strange, subdued colours like a dream sequence. It was one of the most annoying scripts I've heard in a long time with dialogue so unnatural it could have been written by someone from another galaxy.

The Radio Times is mightily impressed with Casualty at the moment. But I think the programme has forgotten that, despite its often grisly subject matter, it was always basically light entertainment. That's why there were often guest appearances by aged comics like Hugh Lloyd and Norman Wisdom, people you thought were dead. And by the end of the episode they usually were.
But the 'makeover' obsession extends to TV programmes. Casualty, it seems to me, has now inserted a lubricated, gloved finger into its backside and is stimulating its own prostate. I hope they're enjoying it. But it's not so much fun to watch.


"Midwives are often working literally in the dark."
- midwife speaking about lack of Government guidance, Radio 4
Couldn't the NHS at least provide them with a torch?
I believe many babies are conceived in darkness, which is understandable as the process is somewhat distasteful to anyone who plays for the other side. But to yank out the resulting progeny in darkness is another kettle of fish altogether and surely a tad dangerous.


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