Get ready for the television antithesis of Grey’s Anatomy. In Getting On there are no doctors and nurses doin’ it, no contemporary adult rock soundtrack, no soapie cliffhangers. Heck there really isn’t even any colour to speak of.
Instead this austere UK satire is painfully bleak, drowning in its own hospital blue. But in truth we also find dark, dark comedy.
Created by comedienne Jo Brand, this is a mockumentary set in a public hospital. But unlike The Office it steers away from the buffoonery of David Brent. The ramifications of the situations ring a much darker bell. Joined by co-stars Joanna Scanlan (Sister Den Flixter) and Vicki Pepperdine (Dr. Pippa Moore) the three ladies both write and star in this comedy, with Ricky Grover as the sole male principal as Matron Hilary Loftus.
Brand plays Nurse Kim Wilde (no, not that one) a veteran nurse who returns to work and struggles with the public hospital systems. In the first episode one of the elderly female patients expires. Flixter and Wilde have to go through her belongings. They debate whether to eat the poor woman’s 87th Birthday Cake. Wilde pilfers the Starburst lollies. Another patient has left faeces on a chair. That requires a number of forms to be filled out before they decide whether to flush it or keep it for Dr. Moore’s stool tests. Instead it just sits there…
Silent elderly patients lay in beds like God’s Waiting Room. One is ranting in Indian, Pakistani, or another subcontinent language nobody can understand. After being spoken down to by Flixter and Moore, Wilde manages to communicate with the poor woman merely by a look. Sometimes old methods are far more effective than trying to follow new rules.
This is a dry, dry series, devoid of the emotion of Nurse Jackie, the emergency turmoil of ER and the mystery-solving of House. As such it is also darkly funny.
Much of the comedy is ad-libbed by the four principals, talking over one another as hand-held cameras bring a realism to the situations. There’s subtext, rhetorical questions, sarcasm and a lot of saving face. Brand’s gormless delivery is delicious all-care-no-responsibility for fear of treading on the rules of hospital administration.
But be warned. There were just 3 episodes made of this in 2009.
Waste no time. Check in to Getting On and have your funny bone tickled.
Getting On airs 8:35pm Wednesday on ABC1.