Critical is the first new series from former doctor Jed Mecurio since Line of Duty, which saw its second series air on BBC2 in March last year, but he’s also responsible for the wonderful Cardiac Arrest and Bodies, plus the amusing The Grimleys. So, you can depend on him to come up with the goods, surely?
A major trauma is due in via the helipad, and everyone is gearing up with their best “serious” face, the cast featuring the token fat lad with a chewing gum fixation, the token Indian doctor, the token newbie, the token bossy boss, and so on.
The first patient coughs up blood all over the lift wall, but as this is the cleanest hospital in existence, it’ll be easy to clean it up, especially as they’d only spat in one direction, and then never again…. well, once but it seemed to disappear into thin air! He was later shown to have a bone sticking out of her leg whereas, with normal people, it would still be encased within the flesh. The ambulance crew reel off how he came to be there – he was ejected from a bus in the wrong way, while a member of staff updates a plasma screen with all the info in, unconvincingly, less time that it takes to blink. And you could tell they were desperate to make it look a little ‘Minority Report’ but held back with that.
You’re not meant to run in hospital corridors, but (a) this building looks nothing like a hospital – and more like an airport terminal, and (b) everyone has to run so that their hair can bounce about in the sunlight, like a L’Oreal commercial… because they’re clearly worth it(!)
Of the cast, those which make the biggest impression are Bodies‘ Neve McIntosh as Nicola Hicklin, who’s bossier than Boss Cat when he wanted to be renamed back as Top Cat, and Kimberley Nixon, as new SHO, Harry. Kimberley Nixon never stops being utterly stunning.
As the patient was taken for a CT head scan, the CT operator kicked off as he thought someone had put metal in the machine, when it was actually part of a blade which had broken off while sticking in the patient’s heart. However, as one nurse was cleared to rush back into the CT room to work this out, for a moment it felt like an episode of The Crystal Maze, with the CT operator practically shouting, “Start the clock!” (Well, he wasn’t, but you get the idea)
The problems with Critical begin with the fact that we knew nothing about the history of the patient, nor what led to him ending up in hospital, so it’s difficult to care about whether they lived or died. Okay, so that happens to the staff, also, for them it’s their job and they’re invested in the patient’s survival, but for me I really wasn’t that fussed.
It was devoid of any tension, yet late on in the operation, it got very gruesome as they started to open up the patient’s chest, so that was a slight plus. The lesser bossy boss, Lorraine (Claire Skinner) went AWOL after chatting to a male doctor, leading us to assume they were away for a bit of “how’s your father”. There was an attempt at a cliffhanger, by which we learned that she wasn’t coming back to the department and that it was in Fiona’s (Catherine Walker) best interest to “stay out of it”, as she was told by Neve, not that that felt beneficial in any way for sticking with the whole episode.
Also, you don’t even see whether the patient lives or dies as the programme only shows the emergency department, so once they’re stable, they’re off for regular surgery.
Oh, and after being one the only interviewed member of the cast prior to broadcast, Lennie James only popped up at the end as an army bloke, giving some baffling spiel about how they “could’ve opened with an easier one”.
Critical is terminal for me. I can’t see myself returning to revive this dodo.
Critical continues on Sky 1 on Tuesday at 9pm.
Overall Score: 2/10
Director: Jon East
Producer: Christopher Hall
Screenplay: Jed Mercurio
Fiona Lomas: Catherine Walker
Lorraine Rappaport: Claire Skinner
Nicola Hicklin: Neve McIntosh
Ramakrishna Chandramohan: Prasanna Puwanarajah
Nerys Merrick: Mali Harries
Harry Bennett-Edwards: Kimberley Nixon
Billy Finlay: Danny Kirrane
Justin Costello: John Macmillan
Giles Dhillon: Paul Bazely
Rebecca Osgood: Emma Fryer
Tommy: Jay Boakes
Bob Webster: Tim Faraday
Glen Boyle: Lennie James
CT Technichian: Joanna Jeffrees
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.