Doctor Foster: A Review

Doctor Foster proved that, as the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Capturing viewers in the UK and exploding onto New Zealand screens last week, Mike Bartlett’s five-part drama Doctor Foster was riveting from the moment Rae Morris’s For You played in the TV One trailer – a song just as gripping and compelling as the series.

Doctor Foster follows small-town doctor and loyal wife, Dr Gemma Foster (played by Scott and Bailey‘s Suranne Jones), as her perfect world slowly unravels after she suspects her husband, Simon (Matilda‘s Bertie Carvel), of having an affair.

A tangled web of lies and deceit was craftily unwoven by writer Mike Bartlett over five epic nights, revealing a town with a host of characters who seemed, at times, just as twisted as the subliminal faults in Gemma’s marriage – mostly on Simon’s part I might add.

Not shy of exploring long-held societal questions about a woman’s place outside of the home: her ability to juggle work and a family along with maintaining a healthy social life – questions Jones herself discussed in an article in The TV Guide – the series certainly seemed to keep viewers on their toes, constantly questioning what Gemma’s next move would be as she unravelled that tangled web – woven by the whole town it seemed!

The sole focus of the series on Gemma may have been a bit of a surprise for Suranne Jones – a fact viewers would either love or hate, Jones revealed – but it left viewers truly able to invest in her character, I felt.

After all, grumbling at the television would not have had the same effect if viewers hadn’t had the chance to really get to know Gemma and her world – a feat for Bartlett in such a small amount of running time.

Although, thanks to superb writing by Bartlett, there were a couple of moments where I questioned how well the audience had gotten to know Gemma. The first being when I thought she’d given up in the fourth episode by attempting suicide, the second when she decided to stay with Simon (that was a face-to-palm moment that one) and the third when I, like Simon, wholeheartedly believed she’d killed her son Tom.

How possibly could I have thought that?!

The finale, however, was what really capped off the series for me, and not just because of the very apt ending.

Not only was it highly explosive from the moment Gemma and Simon walked through the Parks’ door, but the calculating, dark side Gemma revealed made for a finale that certainly kept viewers on their toes – myself included.

After all, as one of the characters from Gemma’s past revealed, she’s always known how to hurt people.

And, as the saying goes, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, right?

A fantastic series that is well worth the watch and very deserving of the second series that has been commissioned.

5/5

And, as a testament to how gripping Doctor Foster was (trailer music aside) you can catch the trailer below:

 

 

 

 

Cuffs: First Impressions

A police-based drama finally returns to BBC One after HolbyBlue eight years ago.

The opening episode of the BBC series Cuffs proved to be a bad day at the office for rookie cop and main protagonist, PC Jake Vickers (played by newcomer Jacob Ifan).

By Jake’s own admission, being bled on and spat on (among other things) was not his idea of a great first day on the job.

However, a bad day at the office promises what I hope will be a great series, despite its cancellation by the BBC.

Cuffs follows the on-and-off-the-job lives of several front-line police officers and detectives with the fictional South Sussex Police service, as they deal with everything from harassment on a nudist beach to race-hate motivated crimes.

Although I’ve seen plenty of cop dramas before, my favourite being Jed Mercurio’s Line of Duty, it appears Cuffs will offer a fresh perspective on the genre, and not just because it’s based by the Brighton sea.

Already after one episode, the series has delved into the lives of the characters, not only revealing a lot of what they’re like on the job, but also at home.

Viewers have already gathered that Jake wants to move out of his father’s shadow and make something of himself, on his own two feet.

From Chief Superintendent Robert Vickers’ (Peter Sullivan) words with Jake’s mentor, PC Ryan Draper (Ashley Walters), I can already tell that this will prove to be difficult.

Viewers also have the not-quite-so-inkling suspicion that “politician” daddy may be being unfaithful to his sick wife (played by The Bill‘s Clare Burt) with DS Jo Moffat (Amanda Abbington), who already seems like she’s more invested in the relationship than he is.

And finally, viewers have glimpsed that underneath PC Draper’s tough exterior is a loving father who clearly wants what’s best for his children, albeit juggling work with home life.

But Cuffs doesn’t stop there.

The series, so far, has not flinched away from showing the highs with the lows.

Although it does not appear to explore darker ‘taboo’ themes in the same nitty-gritty, dark and brooding fashion of Line of Duty, the series has already adeptly explored suicide, child abduction, racism, and infidelity, all in the first episode.

So stay tuned, I’ll be back for my final review in seven weeks.

But in the meantime, you can catch the trailer below.

Our Girl: A Review

Our Girl may have only been 6 episodes long, but I fell in love with ‘Our Girl’ Molly Dawes. I might be jumping the gun, but I’d have to say Our Girl has been my favourite watch this year. I take my hat off to creator and writer Tony Grounds for creating a fabulous and heart warming series that wasn’t afraid to question Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan (slightly) and touch on PTSD. I anxiously waited for Sunday evening to roll around every week to catch up with Dawes, something that many shows I watch have been failing to do.

Lacey Turner was fantastic in her role as Molly. As I mentioned in my first impressions , Molly was the kind of character who, despite her ability to take s*** from no one with her mix of wit and feistiness, wasn’t without her vulnerabilities, and it was great that this continued throughout the series. Not only because she was the only chick in her platoon, she didn’t put up with copping flak from her comrades, least of all Smurf, played by Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon. As I expected, she grew into a strong and courageous young woman, not afraid to risk her own neck (on many occasions) for those she cared about. However, she wasn’t without her vulnerabilities, and this is where the series was a real winner for me – she loved her best friend and former flame Smurf, Captain James and her family. She worried about everyone but herself and in the end she was appreciated for it. Everyone accepted her for who she’d become, her family most of all. But let’s not forget about Lacey Turner. I couldn’t, and still can’t, think of anyone else who could have been Molly. Although I haven’t seen her in anything else, to me, she is Molly. A superb actress.

Our Girl also showed how versatile Iwan Rheon is in his role as Dylan ‘Smurf’ Smith. In Game of Thrones he is sadistic Ramsay Bolton and in Our Girl – I wouldn’t go so far as to say a love-sick puppy – he was a young man who cared immeasurably for the woman who’d saved his life and was trying to honour his brother’s memory by serving. It was very hard not to smile at his class clown personality, and when he wasn’t down about Molly or Molly and Captain James, he was a truly lovable character. He certainly made Molly’s time on her first tour easier. It was very sad to see him go (sorry, I know, spoilers!), although I’ll never really forgive him for almost (I stress the almost) killing Captain James.

Molly’s relationship with an Afghani girl, Bashira, really pulled at the heartstrings. You just know that it’s Molly’s empathy that makes her a great medic, and what a great mother Molly’d be. To a certain extent, Bashira also served as vehicle for Molly to question the good she, and the British Army, were doing in their presence in Afghanistan. With Bashira, it was allowing her to have an education, and when Molly was targeted by the Taliban and Bashira whisked off to a safe house, Molly questioned how her decisions had inevitably changed the course of Bashira’s life forever. Nothing melted my heart more (well, maybe Molly and Captain James) than when Molly held Bashira in her arms, knowing she was safe, and Bashira had no hard feelings.

It was also great for Our Girl to have included PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) in the final episodes. Both Smurf and Molly were affected by their time in Afghanistan, having nightmares etc, and it was great that Smurf and Molly seemed to be moving through it together. I hate it when it’s treated like a taboo, and in Our Girl, it wasn’t. You can never dismiss a soldier’s experience, no matter how dark it may be.

Now, I can’t wrap up this review without talking about the relationship between Captain Charles James (Ben Aldridge) and Molly. I’m a hopeless romantic, I can’t help it!

Captain James & Molly

As Molly did with her comrades, she grew on hardliner Captain James and he fell in love with her wit and courageousness. They were unbelievably cute, without meaning to be. The moment he opened the door, a big goofy grin on his face and Molly said “You miss me?” in all her sassiness, I melted and was smiling for hours (no kidding, I did!). In the end, love proved stronger than army regulations!

I understand there will be a series two (minus Molly 😦 ), but if it’s any good as Our Girl was (sounds like it!), then I will definitely sit down to watch more of Tony Grounds transformative magic. Fingers-crossed that the next series makes its way to New Zealand shores.

Love, love, loved this series, so I encourage you to go away and fall in love with Our Girl.

When can I get in on DVD?! 😉