REVIEW: Is there a DOCTOR DOCTOR in the house?
Dr Hugh Knight (Rodger Corser) has a problem. Actually he's got more than one problem, but the biggest problem facing him is his ego.
As a successful heart surgeon in Sydney he's been living the high life and literally holding patient's lives in his hands. To help manage this daily reminder of mortality he parties as hard, ultimately leading to his undoing.
Booted by the hospital he worked for due to his increasingly erratic behaviour Hugh is 'persuaded' into a year's 'sabbatical' working in the small rural NSW town of Whyhope as their local GP. He's the original Doc Hollywood, though that's where the similarities end for DOCTOR DOCTOR.
Whyhope is no different to any other country town, except it's the town Hugh grew up in, and it's where all his skeletons live, including his family: Mum (Tina Bursill), who is a power-mad local politician; Dad (Steve Bisley) does his best to stay out of the way; Brother Matt (Ryan Johnson) who has set up a successful craft brewery as the need to diversify the farm became apparent; and Charlie (Nic da Silva), Matt's now wife and Hugh's former flame.
So between his return being seen as the second coming and his complete distaste for returning to Whyhope Hugh's ego and expectations are being force-fed some very fresh humble pie.
Doctor Doctor is dependable, honest and sincere Aussie drama with a full cast stronger than has been seen in a long time. Joining the Knight family and rounding out the town are Hayley McElhinney as Hugh's new boss at the hospital, Dave Eastgate as Hugh's childhood mate Joey, Shalom Brune-Franklin as nurse Aoife, and throw in Lucy Durack, John Batchelor and more for good measure.
In fact across the two episodes I've seen it's the cast that make this series work. The script, somewhat predictable at times, barrels along nicely in no small part to the performances of the entire cast. Brune-Franklin is a joy and fresh to Aussie audiences, and Corser is clearly determined to make Hugh Knight a likeable bastard battling his own demons (he succeeds with the former at least).
Bisley and Bursill are perfectly cast and it will make a nice change to see da Silva in a less intense role that offers her to show her often unseen broad character range (Wentworth fans will find elements of Frankie surface from time to time to no detriment of the story).
This new drama series from Nine is really enjoyable. Hugh's fish-out-of-water-but-with-all-the-connections demeanour is likely to settle in future episodes though it makes him a chick magnet for the moment. The characters are fun and there's intrigue in their relationships. They're worth caring about. All the parts of Doctor Doctor feel very "cookie cutter" Aussie drama yet the sum of those is engaging and entertaining.
With drama as good as DOCTOR DOCTOR the Nine Network should be able to turn around the prime time malaise they've experienced for most of 2016. As long as the rest of the season is as easy to watch as the first two episodes they've got my eyes every week.