Ouch. Jed Mercurio’s mighty medical drama ended on Wednesday, back on BBC3 where it belongs. It flopped on BBC2 on occasion of its transfer, but it’s all comparative, and 296,000 viewers is about 30,000 more than The West Wing finale drew on More4. (I could stop going on about ratings, but I won’t.) A 90-minute extension, it basically tied up all the loose ends from the last series and left one hanging, presumably forever, since it ain’t coming back. You have to hand it to Mercurio. I’ve not read his original novel, but he’s done an amazing job of stretching the material out to two series (16 episodes) and one special, without ever stretching it out. Until now.
If you’re already a fan, like me, you will allow Bodies the indulgence of this special episode. It merely extended what was already there – the incompetence case against Dr Roger Hurley (Patrick Baladi, whose affable role in The Office is now almost expunged from my mind!), which reached a rather meloldramatic climax; the battle for Dr Rob Lake’s soul between professional loyalty and moral imperative, which Mercurio moved to a new hospital, but it was the same old battle (I won’t mention how they ramped up the stakes, in case you haven’t watched it and you’re going to, but it was this episode’s stroke of dramatic genius); the continued devil-may-care insouciance of Dr Tony Whitman (Keith Allen, who really found his brand in this series, no matter what you might think of him), reinstated from the eternal golf course for one last round of being a wanker, using the term “vag” and trying to chat up Dr Polly Grey (Tamzin Malleson), who for almost no discernible reason other than narrative convenience was pregnant by Rob (Max Beesley) who managed to get through the whole 90 minutes without smiling, true to form; and the hospital administrators were still slippery, closed-ranks pantomime villains.
Meanwhile, pregnant women were wheeled in and out, usually destined for a Caesarian section that might or might not result in complications, an awful lot of blood being vacuumed up into those little Dysons, death of the mother and/or baby, and a dispassionate explanation using an overhead projector. Only Donna Rix (Neve McIntosh) had a new role – that of an investigative journalist (happily divorced, she’d done a degree in the meantime), but she was posing as a nurse, and banging the same drum as before. The only thing she didn’t actually do was have rough sex with Rob, something she could always be relied up on to do in the previous series, which brightened things up a tiny bit.
In all, I loved it, but then it is Bodies and he is Jed Mercurio, and they are that fine cast. But it wasn’t actually necessary, and it probably is time to end it. Whatever Mercurio does next, I’ll be in the waiting room, clutching my notes and hoping for the best. I’m kind of expecting more of the what-happened-next This Life, but they’ve got a ten-year gap to play with.
“Shocking … ” was the announcement by a medic in the operating room when yet another poor, hapless mum required CPR. It kind of summed up the whole programme.