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Green Wing? More Like X-Wing! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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March 5th, 2006


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11:41 am - Green Wing? More Like X-Wing!
Thanks to kieyra's incessant pimping, I have discovered the raucous hilarity that is Green Wing. What is Green Wing? you may ask. I've never heard of it, you may say. That's because it's a British comedy whose first series ran for nine episodes in late 2004. The second series is due to start up...very soon. The British television system is very strange.

So it may seem strange for me to even bother to recommend this to you people, who will, for the most part, not be able to watch it very easily. But you all know there are...other means.

Green Wing is a hospital comedy, but it's not Scrubs. It's rather unlike any comedy I've ever seen.

Let's start with the opening credits of the pilot, which I love. A sound effect of a propeller airplane taking off as the camera enters the double doors to triumphant horns. The music is all whimsical and dance-y, and a split-screen montage shows images of doctors running down hallways, doctors dancing in the halls, doctors wearing funny hats, doctors with camels, doctors riding motorcyles down hallways, doctors showing their asses. What you will later realize is that these are all images from the entire series, which means they had all nine episodes in the can before airing. In subsequent episodes, images are replaced with scenes from last week, but set to that same music, making them the most fun and least annoying "previously on"s ever. Especially when about half the scenes don't seem to be relevant to the new episode; they just throw them in to amuse themselves.

Another trademark of the show is the incessant use of speed-up/slow-down effects. It got very irritating in the pilot, but I got used to it. The same goes for the music, which I learned to love. While it's characterized by an overuse of record scratches, there are a lot of nice little guitar and string melodies scattered throughout, and they basically use the same score for each episode.

But really, what sets this apart from other comedies is the style, which, maybe a lot of British comedies are like this, but I've never seen one. Each episode covers one day at the hospital, but when I say "covers" I mean "shows things that happen." Because the show is very loosely plotted. There are maybe three or four plot threads, at the most, running throughout the entire series. They have a huge team of writers, the size you'd have for a sketch comedy show, which each episode kind of is. It cuts from amusing scene to amusing scene, scenes which, for the most part, have no real purpose but to be funny and aren't bound by the laws of continuity. For instance, one of my favorite scenes from the pilot is of one character walking in on another character weighing each of her breasts to see how much they would cost to send in the mail. inigo deems this "anarchic humor," while I deem it "wacky and surreal."

Quick rundown of the characters:

Dr. Caroline Todd: Our entrypoint to the series, as she's the new doctor, completely confounded by her new co-workers. She's basically the straight man.

Dr. Guy Secretan: Every show needs an obligatory psychotic jackass. This is Green Wing's. I do think we've seen this sort of character a thousand times before (the sex-obsessed prick who's intent on bagging the new girl), but I think every actor puts a different spin on him.

Dr. "Mac" Macartney: The jackass with a heart of gold and a lion's mane.

Dr. Martin Dear: The one who always got picked last in dodgeball. He's entirely pathetic and insecure, but I love him. Probably the least assholish of the bunch.

Dr. Angela Hunter: Cute and blonde. Not much to say about her, really, as I think she's the most underwritten and underused character in the show. I'm not entirely sure what her purpose is supposed to be, except to give Caroline a female friend to talk to about female things every now and then.

Dr. Alan Statham: Oh, man. Alan is simultaneously extremely funny and extremely irritating. He stutters like a maniac and is the kind of character who, when caught with his pants down, will say, regardless of whether anyone comments, "So, you, you you you, you must be wondering why my, why my pants are down, and, and and and..." and then walks away. He carries on an illicit affair with Joanna Clore, who treats him like utter shit despite his romantic routine.

Joanna Clore: As mentioned above, she carries on an illicit affair with Alan Statham, much to her embarrassment. Her other character trait is an obsession with her age and how she looks.

Boyce: A resident who takes much delight in terrorizing Dr. Statham.

Kim: Kim is hot. And a secretary. I love the secretaries.

Naughty Rachel: No, that's how she's credited, really. She and Kim are the alpha females among the secretaries, much like Guy and Mac.

Karen: Which leads us to our Martin Dear equivalent, who can sometimes be found with a wastebasket over her head.

Harriet: Harriet cracks me up. She has like twenty-seven kids or something, and her character trait is that she is extremely absent-minded.

Sue White: You know how there is frequently one character who just makes a show? This is Sue White, the staff liaison. When an episode cuts to Sue's office, you never know what to expect. Will she take off all her clothes? Rub her face in cake? Pleasure herself? Dance to her ringtone? Kill someone? SHE'S OUT OF HER FUCKING MIND, MAN!

Most of the characters are awful people doing awful things to each other, and they don't really try to make themselves likeable. These are the most unprofessional doctors I've ever seen. They're the kind of doctors who will play pattycake during surgery. I'm amazed that any of them still have jobs.

The show is very thin on plot and character depth, but that's okay, because it's immensely entertaining. I love it, and you should too, which is why I wrote this post. If you need a laugh, come to the Green Wing. But if you need a doctor, for the love of God, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.
Current Mood: quixoticquixotic
Current Music: Morcheeba - Track 9

(35 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:flymara
Date:March 5th, 2006 07:51 pm (UTC)
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Ha, I love Green Wing. I'm glad more people are watching it.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 5th, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC)
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Oh, awesome! I didn't know who would have even heard of it. And guess what?! I sat next to someone from Auckland on the plane! I'd never heard a New Zealand accent before.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 5th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
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Um, did you just recommend a television show to me? Who are you and what have you done with Cimmy?
From:cerulgalactus
Date:March 5th, 2006 08:45 pm (UTC)
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You hit Dr Hunter's nail right on the head, what with being the 'other' female doctor that the main female doctor can talk to. In fact, I believe she was the blueprint for Dr. Molly Clock (Heather Graham) in Scrubs, only she (in the grand sitcom style) was fed zany, quirky and strong steroids.
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From:catmint
Date:March 5th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC)
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I looooooove Green Wing. Nobody learns, nobody grows.

S1 comes out on DVD next month. Rah.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 5th, 2006 08:57 pm (UTC)
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Heh. I forgot that I have, like, quite a few Brits on my flist. I wasn't sure that many people would even care about this post.

The fact that nobody grows is what eirefaerie likes about it too, but I don't think that's really true. I think the main characters do experience some growth over the course of the series.
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From:maidofawesome
Date:March 5th, 2006 08:50 pm (UTC)
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It's so weird seeing a Brit show reviewed by someone who is entirely used to American shows and their structure. I don't know why our shows are so short - I think it's because they want them to be proven before they're screened. Which is why things don't get cancelled like in America. But they're only six episodes long (Green Wing is actually unusually long for a British sitcom - because it's nine episodes, each an hour long). But this also means the quality doesn't deteriorate so fast.

I highly recommend Spaced. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it. Dr. Statham from Green Wing is in it and he's so completely and totally removed from that character, it's brilliant. Also it's Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson who are wonderful. It's more rooted in reality than Green Wing but still very surreal. Black Books is also excellent - it stars Fran Greig who plays Dr. Todd in GW. The IT Crowd is the newest British comedy but it's hit and miss. I liked it but it wasn't as well written as GW and IT Crowd and Spaced (Spaced, though, is flawless. Nothing compares.)

If you like really, really out there surrealism, you should try the Mighty Boosh. It's odd, and you should watch the whole of s1 in one go, but it's brilliant. It has songs. And a zoo. And lots of hair.

I'm looking forward to it coming out on DVD. Annoyingly, they've held off the release until the second series is on (they're showing brilliantly bizarre adverts, including one of Dr. Statham in a tutu) so it's out in a couple of weeks. I shall be buying, though. :)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 5th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
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Oh, eirefaerie sent me Spaced, and I think I'm going to watch it all in one go one day. And I've been recommended Black Books as well.

Where does the money come from in British television, then? How can they afford to make the entire run before it's even aired? What if they decide not to air it?
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From:norahrose
Date:March 6th, 2006 12:44 am (UTC)
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This is unrelated to your entry, but remind me one of these days to tell you about how I hung out at Joel Silver's (you know, the producer) Malibu beach house. I think you are the only person in my life who would be as truly excited about that as I was.
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From:inigo
Date:March 6th, 2006 07:50 am (UTC)
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If you are going to quote me, at least be accurate! HUMOUR!
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From:pixie37373
Date:March 6th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
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oh now I totally want to see this
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From:dachelle
Date:March 6th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
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Green Wing is brilliance. catmint sent it to me a while back.

You need to watch all of Black Books. Yes, yes, yes. Also Father Ted. And Red Dwarf, since you've somehow managed to escape seeing it. I don't understand how. I thought all sci-fi types caught it sooner or later. You have seen Blackadder, right? If you tell me you haven't, I'm going to fly up there RIGHT NOW with my DVDs and multi-region player and force you into a Britcom marathon.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 6th, 2006 07:55 pm (UTC)
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I...haven't.
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From:bspalek
Date:March 6th, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC)
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I keep seeing her pimp it in her journal, but never got the chance to down load it. I will have to get on that when I get home.
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From:alliterator
Date:March 7th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
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Heh.

I loved in episode 5, when one of the students asked Dr. Todd advice, she said, "Don't get sick, because we'll put you to sleep and do horrible things to your body."
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From:saikou_dani
Date:March 8th, 2006 05:06 am (UTC)
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I got excited because when I clicked on your journal from alannaofdoom's, the first thing I saw was the word "X-Wing". Then I realized it had nothing to do with Star Wars. Disappointment ensued.
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From:kieyra
Date:March 8th, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC)
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Hey, I almost missed this!

I'm glad you not only liked the show, but that it was worthy of an Entire Post. :)

(I have to send a link to the person who got me into Green Wing.)

Dr. Angela Hunter: Cute and blonde. Not much to say about her, really, as I think she's the most underwritten and underused character in the show. I'm not entirely sure what her purpose is supposed to be, except to give Caroline a female friend to talk to about female things every now and then.

I think her 'purpose' was to be the annoyingly perfect, thin, blonde, graceful female who needs to die since most of us feel like Dr. Todd most days...in order to further emphasize Caroline's insecurities. But they seem to have dropped that whole approach early on--maybe they just felt that Caroline didn't really need the added antagonism since she was already juggling Mac and Guy.

Boyce: A resident who takes much delight in terrorizing Dr. Statham.

I love Boyce. I love that he and Kim hooked up. I love his relationship with Statham.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:March 8th, 2006 03:35 pm (UTC)
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And Statham is such a fucking easy mark, so Boyce has every opportunity. I loved the "What is this?"/"A bone" bit because it reminded me of being taught in Kaplan training not to ask open-ended questions like that because, as Boyce points out, his answer is totally valid.
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From:_kirsty
Date:March 10th, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I love Green Wing! (Apparently Season 2 begins on Friday 31st March.) One of the writers for that show, James Henry, keeps a blog you might enjoy.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:March 10th, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC)
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Oh, wow, that's soon! Nice!
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