28 August 2001 | hgallon
Please carry on, Doctors
Most hospital dramas are about situations of life and death. "Surgical Spirit" deals with the equally dramatic issues of ruptures and piles.
The heroine, Dr. Sheila Sabatini (Nicola McAuliffe), is a consultant surgeon. In addition to dealing with the everyday crises of the wards, she has also to deal with a slightly wayward son, an Italian husband whom she is divorcing, an anaesthetist boyfriend who is slightly in awe of her and a scatterbrained administrator.
Most of the humour arises from the relations between Sabatini and her fellow-doctors, who are pretentious, idle or callow. Her suitor, Dr. Haslam, earnestly rushes in where angels fear to tread and provides a natural foil to Sabatini's irascibility.
As one might expect from a character in McAuliffe's high-powered role, the dialog is very sharp and naturally delivered. Think of Sir Lancelot Sprat in drag. Awkward, mumbling explanations to her about embarrassing medical conditions are cut short with almost an Australian relish for bluntness.
Very few lines are delivered with obvious intentional humour, a process made easier by most scenes being shot with all the characters wearing surgical masks. Extracting humour from the mundane is a difficult feat, and this series probably succeeded better than most.