Culture, Television

‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’ proves humorous with dynamic duo

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Harry Potter and Don Draper walk into a Russian hospital. That’s not the setup to a lame joke; it’s the premise for the highly entertaining British television series “A Young Doctor’s Notebook and Other Stories,” now in its second season.

Based on author Mikhail Bulgakov’s autobiographical short stories, the show details a fresh-faced, unnamed doctor and his gruesome yet hysterical hospital adventures in rural 1917 Russia. Simultaneously, his older self reflects on his past triumphs and letdowns.

The young doctor’s struggle adjusting to the new lifestyle, coupled with his developing morphine dependency, is riveting to not only the viewer but also the older doctor, who is able to physically interact and converse with his younger self.

Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm play the Young and Older Doctor, respectively, and prove their comedic chops through the hysterical dialogue.

While season one showcased his distaste for his past substance abuse, season two began with a recovered Older Doctor, who can actively meddle in his younger life. His younger self, currently battling the addiction, is entranced by engaged aristocrat Natasha. She arrives with the White Guards in the midst of the Russian Civil War.

Concealing the missing morphine from the Zemstvo, the local government, is a minor task compared to winning Natasha’s affections.

Meanwhile, the Older Doctor is appalled by the Young Doctor’s rudeness to the hospital nurse Pelageya, who is gravely ill. Terminating their romantic relationship bluntly, the Young Doctor ignores Pelageya’s plight—until it seems too late.

Hamm, a producer for the series, easily slips into this period piece. He balances the drama of recovering addiction with the comedic timing we’ve come to associate with his SNL appearances. It’s cynical yet subtle, and it works. He is a gifted actor who can blend sympathy and disgust for any character he plays.

Radcliffe is the true star. This role is so far removed from his Harry Potter past: twisted, bitter, yet joyfully funny. His delivery is beautiful, and he’s not afraid to make a fool of himself—which he does, as he drunkenly wrestles Hamm for a gun, shoots himself in the foot by mistake, and exclaims “I’m going to have to amputate my own foot!”

This show is not for the faint of heart: it graphically depicts violent illnesses and medical surgeries. Nor is it an obvious choice for two big-name actors. But it’s a brave one that is successful. It’s darkly funny, bracingly witty and incredibly addicting.

The season finale of “A Young Doctor’s Notebook” airs Sept. 9 on Ovation. Season one is currently available on Netflix.

September 8, 2014


Sirisha Gaddipati

Around the Web

The University of Miami community is invited to participate in several events to discuss crucial topics regarding social justice and racial equality, explored in Ijeoma Oluo’s best-seller. ...

University writing experts weigh in on the inaugural poem, written and recited by Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old U.S. youth poet laureate. ...

The number of ambassadors has been increased from 75 to 100 as the University continues to support a safe environment and help students adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. ...

The series—which will feature experts discussing their groundbreaking research on corals, ocean and atmospheric science, and how climate change is forcing communities to alter their long-range plans—will begin this week. ...

Octavia Bridges—a 20-year veteran of the University of Miami Police Department and the first Black woman to serve as a lieutenant—has been promoted to oversee crime prevention and community relations on the Coral Gables Campus. ...

TMH Twitter
About Us

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.