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MSN UK

A Young Doctor's Notebook review: Hamm and Radcliffe shine

Dec 12, 2012

Summary

A Young Doctor’s Notebook stars Jon Hamm as Moscow doctor Vladimir Bomgard. Over four episodes, he reminisces about his early career in the far-flung village of Muryovo, with his younger self played by Daniel Radcliffe.

This Sky Arts comedy-drama from their Playhouse Presents… strand is adapted from the autobiographical short stories of Russian playwright Mikhail Bulgakov.

Highlight

The most unforgettable sequence found the Young Bomgard trying to extract a tooth from a hapless patient, resulting in a startling eruption of cavity blood.


Lowlight

No conspicuously poor moments worth mentioning. However, the joke with The Feldsher (Adam Godley) boring Young Bomgard to distraction (by testing the capacity of his large trunk in the middle of the night) was awkwardly handled using a time-passing fade out.

Full review

I wasn’t enthusiastic about the prospect of a four-part adaptation of a Russian playwright’s work, airing on a niche channel like Sky Arts.

However, the best surprise of A Young Doctor’s Notebook is how engaging, comical and unpretentious it is.

Much of that’s down to the performance of Daniel Radcliffe as the naïve young physician sent to a remote village on the eve of the Russian Revolution in 1917; he acquits himself remarkably well.

The Harry Potter star isn’t best known for comedy, but he has a natural sense of rhythm and awkwardness. It pefectly suits this innocent character who’s stepped into the shoes of distinguished surgeon Leopold Leopoldovich; an older gent with a shaggy beard, whose standing in the community simply can’t be surpassed.

Mad Men’s Jon Hamm has a smaller, less showier role (at least in the first episode), as he’s essentially the bookend to Radcliffe-starring extended flashbacks.

It’s an intriguing creative choice to have the Older Bomgard interact with himself for particular scenes – like a ghost from the future, advising the Younger Bomgard.

Source: MSN UK

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