Un­em­ployed de­serve far bet­ter than this

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

UN­EM­PLOY­MENT is one of life’s mis­for­tunes I have so far man­aged to dodge ( maybe this year that will change, who knows). By all ac­counts it’s no pic­nic, what with the mort­gage wor­ries, the Cen­tre­link queues, the home-brand gro­ceries and the ( heaven for­bid) pity­ing looks from the in-laws who al­ways sus­pected you weren’t much chop.

But there’s an­other, far more un­pleas­ant, haz­ard await­ing the un­wary: day­time tele­vi­sion. Yes, folks, hav­ing been forced to watch codswal­lop like The Doc­tors , a new show that Ten in­flicts on the na­tion from to­day, I can add my voice to Prime Min­is­ter Kevin Rudd’s plea to em­ploy­ers to avoid shed­ding staff at all costs. If you do, they’ll be at the mercy of brain­rot­ting tripe such as this, and any hope of fu­ture re-em­ploy­ment will be all but lost.

The con­cept sounds tol­er­a­ble enough: four doc­tors, each from a dif­fer­ent spe­cialty, are go­ing to en­ter­tain and ed­u­cate us with dis­cus­sions of med­i­cal dilem­mas. They also take ques­tions from view­ers, and do demon­stra­tions and even ex­am­i­na­tions on the set.

But the cred­its barely roll be­fore the an­nouncer booms that the ‘‘ dream team of Amer­i­can medicine has ar­rived!’’, set­ting an un­for­tu­nate, self-con­grat­u­la­tory tone that lasts the en­tire hour.

The main host, ER doc­tor Travis Stork, comes across as an ir­ri­tat­ing col­lege jock who talks at, rather than to, the au­di­ence, the cam­era and his co-hosts. ‘‘ We’re go­ing to do things like the first-ever eye­lash trans­plant!’’ he an­nounces, to the stu­dio au­di­ence’s de­light. Ev­ery­thing he ut­ters is con­cluded with an in­vis­i­ble ex­cla­ma­tion mark ( Great set! Great ta­ble!) and the ap­plause in­creases with each

Med­i­cal overkill: Amer­ica’s ‘‘ dream team’’ of doc­tors ba­nal­ity. Ab­surdly, he pa­rades around the set in scrubs.

Two of the other hosts are more ap­pro­pri­ate both in man­ner and ap­pear­ance. But, in a telling re­flec­tion of US health pri­or­i­ties, the fourth panel mem­ber is a plas­tic sur­geon, An­drew Or­don, who sub­jects a pa­tient to his own brand-name facelift tech­nique, the ‘‘ O-lift’’, which is de­scribed as ‘‘ ground­break­ing, and needs just three days of re­cov­ery’’. ( Thun­der­ous ap­plause.)

This alone would be enough to get the show banned if it fea­tured Aus­tralian doc­tors. I’m not sure Aus­tralian audiences will warm to the rit­ual hu­mil­i­a­tion of a pack-a-day smoker, who is shown a digi­tised sim­u­la­tion of what his face will look like un­less he quits ( like an ex­tra from Planet of the Apes ).

He ends up sob­bing, ‘‘ I’m will­ing to make the change! I’m will­ing to do any­thing!’’ ( Deaf­en­ing ap­plause).

The smoker is promised as­sis­tance to help his quit at­tempt. This be­ing the US, willpower and moral sup­port aren’t enough: he gets a per­sonal trainer for a year, a gourmet meal­son-wheels ser­vice, and some un­ex­plained brand-name laser treat­ment. Med­i­cal overkill, all around.

Adam Cresswell

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