[This is a reworked repost on TV medicine from my old site, Everywhere and Here, whose URL my boyfriend told me in no uncertain terms that no one would ever remember. And it’s true: Call Me Watson is much snappier.
In any case, I love TV, and watch rather too much of it. Here, I’ll review shows depicting medicine on TV as to its relationship to reality, and proximity to entertainment. Enjoy!]
Those four words alone should pique your interest, if not promise a certain level of quality. Also, the letters BBC. And the names Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm. And in fact, it delivers.
- see opposite worlds collide as the Harry Potter/Daniel Radcliffe tries valiently to cling onto the back of Don Draper/Jon Hamm during a fight with his future self, being thrown back and forth as though on a mechanical bull
- laugh at the idea of the strapping Jon Hamm as the future version of the slight but adorable post-pubescent Daniel Radcliffe. (I’m pretty sure voice deepening and growth spurts do NOT happen in your late twenties, but hey…)
- watch Jon Hamm tear pages out of a textbook and start stuffing them in his mouth
- muse on why all Russians speak with an English accent (or in Jon Hamm’s case, almost an English accent)
- their obsession with the voluminous, luxurious beard of the previous, older physician who ran the hospital before Radcliffe, and Radcliffe’s lack thereof.
The French called it the ‘Neapolitan disease’, the ‘disease of Naples’ or the ‘Spanish disease’, and later grande verole or grosse verole, the ‘ great pox’, the English and Italians called it the ‘French disease’, the ‘Gallic disease’, the ‘morbus Gallicus’, or the ‘French pox’, the Germans called it the ‘French evil’, the Scottish called it the ‘grandgore‘, the Russians called it the ‘Polish disease’, the Polish and the Persians called it the ‘Turkish disease’, the Turkish called it the ‘Christian disease’, the Tahitians called it the ‘British disease’, in India it was called the ‘Portuguese disease’, in Japan it was called the ‘Chinese pox’, and there are some references to it being called the ‘Persian fire’.
- internal podalic version for abnormal fetal lie (though we’d most likely perform a cesarean now)
- the checking of a weak pulse at the carotid
- the absolute lack of gloves (oy, it’s hard to look at)
- the sound of a dull, dull saw cutting through a leg
- tracheotomy for diphtheria: huh, actually common
- the utter crudeness and cruelness of medicine back in the day
that seems pretty on par for the period.
- the fear, the helplessness
- the book knowledge that isn’t enough to help the patient lying in front of you
- the frustration with self-destructive patients, lethargic staff, and your own inadequacies
- the surprisingly rapidity with which cynicism floods and drowns any remaining youthful idealist
- the desire to take up a tobacco habit or gastrointestinal condition, if only to have an excuse to desperately sprint to the bookshelf or a computer look up something you forgot
- the hopelessness that can drive some to addiction.