Watching the BFS Entertainment DVD release of Series One (my people call them seasons) of the award-winning BBC dramedy "The Indian Doctor" further confirms both that BFS rules regarding releasing British shows and films in North America. These episodes also show that the (previously reviewed) S3 of "Doctor" nicely builds on the earlier developments in the program.
The historic elements of "Doctor" extend beyond setting the show in a small Welsh mining village of Trefelin. Dr. Prem Sharma emigrates to the UK in response to broad recruiting efforts by health minister Enoch Powell. The "Green Acres" vibe regarding this extends beyond Prem wanting a rural adventure; his cultured wife Kamini actively resists this move and has great difficulty fitting in with most of the locals.
The following promo., courtesy of YouTube, for "Doctor" offers a nice look at the origin story of the titular medical practitioner and the charm of the series.
Sanjeev Bhaskar, who is arguably best known for playing Sanjeev Kumar in the classic British comedy series "The Kumars at No. 42," is wonderful as the stoic and charming Prem who must contend with hostility both from his wife and his new community. He is the doctor whom you want to treat you and the friend who would see you through as many rough patches as life throws in your path.
The eccentric locals provide more of the humor than the culture clash. Ambitious and unscrupulous mine manager Richard "Dickie" Sharpe, played by "Harry Potter" actor Mark Williams, is a hilariously impotent mid-level bureaucrat. The pretentious nature of the not-so-sophisticated Mrs. Sylvia Sharpe is equally fun and makes the social-climbing efforts of "that Bucket Woman" in the Britcom "Keeping Up Appearances" pale in comparison.
The greatest hits of Sylvia include a comically inept effort to host an Indian meal, shamelessly throwing herself at a dreamy rugby star at least 15 years her junior, and inadvertently broadcasting her marital woes to the entire community. Seeing the genuinely cultured Kamini politely show up Sylvia is equally entertaining.
The dreamy Alexander Vlahos of the "Merlin" television series also shines as aspiring singer Tom Evans. He does a spectacular job with the dances and songs of the day and engages in a sweet courtship that ultimately involves a tough situation.
The younger mischievous Dan Griffith provides even better humor as an adorable juvenile delinquent who develops a close S1 relationship with Kamini that extends through S3. The blase manner in which this under-aged lad drives a stolen car and commits a burglary hinders any efforts to stay mad at him.
The eccentric situations in which Prem finds himself as the medical practitioner for the area include being called on to deliver a calf and dealing with two women with whom a local man is concurrently engaged in a committed relationship.
A more serious season-long story arc has Richard initially frantically trying to prevent Prem from discovering evidence of a black lung problem and Prem subsequently trying to get the miners to cooperate with efforts to document this problem. The obstacles that Prem faces extended beyond being a foreigner; the close-knit mining community generally distrusts newcomers of every nationality and additionally value their economic well-being over their physical health.
Another story line that contributes to the S1 drama relates to guilt that Prem experiences regarding a death in India.
The well-blended compound of talented well-cast actors and good writing makes "Doctor" a good prescription for folks suffering from the wintertime blues.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Doctor" is encouraged to either email me or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.