Saturday Selections: A Young Doctor’s Notebook

So what has entertained or delighted me enough over the past week to make it into Saturday Selections? With a huge dose of enthusiasm, I have to say A Young Doctor’s Notebook!! Yes, that’s with two exclamation points and I don’t throw those things around willy nilly.

Young Doctors Notebook

A Young Doctor’s Notebook is a mini-series (four 25-inute episodes) that stars Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm. I’ll admit I love anything with Daniel Radcliffe (especially Graham Norton episodes), but I’m not a huge fan of Jon Hamm so I was somewhat reluctant to watch this.

So what swayed me? A Graham Norton episode in which Daniel promotes the show. From the description that included quotes like, β€œIt’s quite bizarre. It features amputations and syphilis, none of which sounds funny, but it is,” I knew, Hamm or not, I had to see this series.

About A Young Doctor’s Notebook

The mini-series is based on a book by Mikhaill Bulgakov. The show starts out with a very enthusiastic and optimistic young doctor (Radcliffe) being assigned to work in what must be the remotest hospital in Russia. He’s graduated with excellent test results that he is all too proud to tell his new co-workers (all three of them) about. Unfortunately, when cases start coming in, he realizes test results do not equal practical experience. Add to his insecurities and isolation a staff that has a god-like reverence for his predecessor and an appalling lack of cigarettes (smoked in the surgery room, of course) and you’ve got a great set up.

The young doctor’s older self (Hamm) pays visits to offer brutal forms of encouragement and guidance. As we learn through small snippets, the older self is being interrogated by the Russian police based on entries the young doctor wrote in his notebook/diary/journal while at the hospital. What the police have read entails crimes the young doctor committed while trapped in the isolated location that is often locked off from the outside world (that is a day’s journey away) by blizzards.

A Great Mix

Yes, A Young Doctor’s Notebook is hilarious, but this isn’t a slapstick kind of comedy. After all, the original was written by a Russian so you know it’s not going to all side-splitting giggles.

The series is very dark and at times very gory (okay the gore is a bit slapstick-y). As you learn more about why the older doctor is being investigated, you see Hamm’s character desperately trying to sway his younger counterpart from what he’s about to do and this provides an excellent form of tension – imagine if you could go back to a younger self, what would you tell him or her not to do? The first episode is by far the funniest and definitely sucks you into the rest of the series as it moves on to darker and darker scenarios (all of which are still mixed with a terrific dose of subtle humor).


If you like dark comedies, if you don’t mind a bit of gore, if you want to see something that feels fresh and unique, find this series NOW. If you’re a bit squeamish, you may want to just pop in a Harry Potter film.

Teasers and Trailers

As always, thanks for reading everyone and don’t be shy about commenting! And now it’s time for a….

Completely Unrelated Update

Earlier this week I announced the birthday of the second edition of my book Easy Preserving. At that time, a few stores still didn’t have live links for the new edition. I’m glad to say that now all the usual retailing suspects have the book available. Here’s a partial list of where to find the 2nd edition of this handy little guide: