THAT WAS WEIRD: Tonight at 10pm, BBC Canada debuts Green Wing, a comedy set in a hospital, and if that makes you sigh and groan – having had enough of anything set in hospitals, comedic or otherwise – I’d advise you to buck up and give it a look; this might be one of the funniest things I’ve seen on TV in a year.
Originally a Channel Four production, it’s from the same team who made the unsung Smack The Pony (which ran on Comedy for a year or two, and was worth finding accidentally, even if you could never figure out just when it was on the schedule.) It stars Tamsin Greig (Fran on Black Books) as Dr. Caroline Todd, who arrives for her first day at East Hampton Hospital Trust having in a state of nervous exhaustion, having slept in her car. She ends the day by sleeping – alone - in the bed of self-obsessed anesthetist Guy Secretain, who’s happy to spread the rumour that he seduced the newest staff member, even if the worst thing that happened was the unflushable monster turd Caroline left in his loo.
If it sounds familiar, don’t get too excited – as much as I wanted to believe that Green Wing was a point-by-point satire of Grey’s Anatomy, a quick Google search revealed that the show’s first season debuted in 2004, a year before the ABC medical drama. Still, it’s an eerie coincidence, and far from the weirdest thing about the show, which shares the same aggressively surreal humour as Smack The Pony, and is populated by seething neurotics and sociopaths who spend most of their time invading each other’s personal space with the barely suppressed sexual avidness you’d expect at a drunken frat party.
It’s full of gruesomely memorable characters like head administrator Joanna Yardley Clore (Pippa Haywood), a cougar in permanent estrus who stalks the hospital corridors with a distended swagger that seems to indicate sore parts as much as sexual need. She often liaises in her office with Dr. Statham, the x-ray specialist with the bottle-brush moustache and the exaggerated sense of his own importance, for a version of foreplay that’s really more like assisted self-abuse, with stress on the world abuse.
"Mac" Macartney (Julian Rhind-Tutt) is East Hampton’s McDreamy, while Sue White (Michelle Gomez) is competing with Joanna, her arch-enemy, for the title of resident sexual psychopath, with more apparent success. In typical British sitcom fashion, it lasted all of two seasons at between six and eight episodes each, with a bonus Christmas special, and future plotlines involve incest and terminal illness, all of which will be treated with the appropriate gravity, one falsely assumes. It’s the sort of comedy that leaves you in an anxious, splenetic mood afterward, instead of the usual enervated, vaguely depressed torpor, and that’s got to count for something.