On paper, and indeed from the trailers, this promised to be a much-needed Sunday evening drama to fill the void left by the likes of Downton Abbey, Mr Selfridge and the sadly missed Home Fires. The cast list alone beckoned me to tune in, however I’m not as over-awed as I anticipated. The over-riding feeling of slight disappointment has thrown me, so this review is rather mixed, and I am trying to focus on the positives and characters. I am aware that the second episode may have the capacity to change my mind entirely. I’ll be willing to admit if I’m wrong and first episodes are always difficult as the majority of the instalment sets the overall scene and introduces key characters.
Dr Ruby Walker ~ Amrita Acharia was one of the main redeeming features of the show. Her back-story was made clear immediately, a failed relationship behind her (or not!) and she seemed disenchanted with the NHS (what a surprise). Dr Walker appears to be a likeable character with no preconceived ideas and she soon rolled up her sleeves to deliver a baby girl, united that baby girl with a father who did not want to know and handled her first fatality since her arrival, following a brutal stabbing. She faced Dr Fonseca (Amanda Redman) with a determination and I feel that I can connect with her and the baggage that she brings.
Dr Lydia Fonseca ~ A good cop and bad cop all rolled into one who bore an uncanny resemblance to Connie Beauchamp from Casualty and Holby City. There is obviously a long story waiting to emerge for Dr Fonseca and the light and shade in the character make-up was all there. I found her greeting of Dr Walker to be unnecessary, bordering on rude, however I feel confident that her traits will be examined as the episodes unfold. I can’t buy into her relationship with Greg McConnell (Neil Morrissey) yet, but I can’t help but think of Tony from Men Behaving Badly whenever I see him. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt!
Ram Nair ~ I really took to his character, every good drama should have a reliable and loveable side-kick and I get the impression that Darshan Jariwala is playing that very role. Facial expressions from Jariwala spoke a thousand words and I couldn’t help but chuckle when his picture was used on the back of the ambulance. That was a priceless moment.
Phyllis Logan and Philip Jackson ~ Considering their appearances in the trailers, there was little seen of this pair (who play Maggie and Paul Smart) and a few more scenes featuring them might have swung my opinion in a more favourable direction. I realise that Maggie has a tragic revelation to acquaint her husband with and that will need to be handled sensitively, however, more from their daughter’s wedding wouldn’t have gone amiss. It was a surprise that they weren’t as integral to the overall plot as I had believed they might be. However, I note that they are in all six episodes, so there is time for that to develop.
India ~ I thought that the setting of the show was incredible and there was a definite Exotic Marigold Hotel meets Wild At Heart vibe emulating. However, I’m not sure if this was just me, but the fact that we were already aware that it was shot in Sri Lanka stuck in my mind and I was unable to compute that this was India. Maybe too much knowledge can spoil it?
Overall verdict ~ I wanted to fall in love with The Good Karma Hospital at first sight, but instead, I find that I can take or leave watching the rest of the series. I possess the necessary staying power, though and with Break A Leg’s Patron, Phyllis Logan on board, I am in it for the duration.
Photo credits: ITV