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The Golden Hour (2005)

TV miniseries review: The Golden Hour (2005), directed by Julian Holmes and Tim Leandro

thegoldenhourWhen I first tried watching this, I was on a train on my way to London. I was on my work laptop … only to find out it didn’t have a DVD codec. Second attempt was also on a train, except I had my own laptop. I managed about 17 minutes before I felt too queasy to continue. Watching surgical procedures in public was perhaps not a great idea anyway – if I was queasy, someone nearby catching sight of my screen might complain.

So, finally, I managed to plonk myself in front of the telly, and found a contemporary medical drama following four emergency doctors in central London – specifically, the helicopter ambulance crew – and follow their work. I was wondering how accurate it was in portraying the work of the London HEMS, but according to an IMDb user who apparently works in the field, “the ambulance community and in particular London HEMS rejected this crap for what it is. It is not factual, it bears absolutely no relation to real life or how air ambulances operate.” So yeah. To a lay person, it looks real enough.

The title, The Golden Hour, refers to the first hour after an incident, which is critical when it comes to saving a patient’s life. The four doctors are Alec Track (Richard Armitage), his girlfriend Jane Cameron (Zoe Telford), Paul Keane (Ciarán McMenamin) – who has the hots for Jane – and Naz Osborne (Navin Chowdhry), who is going through some marital problems. In the four episodes, we’re faced with four emergency situations, and how the four doctors work around these, along with how they get along with life outside their uniforms.

The emergency situations feel authentic enough, but the way we get the backstories, of the events leading up to the emergency, gets repetitive. We get a glimpse, then the same glimpse again, with an extension … and then that will be shown again, extended … and so on. Couldn’t they have cut it down a bit just once?

Other than that, it doesn’t feel like a very high quality production. Picture quality isn’t great, acting isn’t great, although I’m quite impressed by the actors (Richard Armitage in particular) getting through all that medical jargon without stumbling, while handling scalpels and needles and all manner of things.

Which brings me on to the issue of surgical procedures. The production team have left very little to our imaginations, and if you’re squeamish about seeing blod and guts, you’re going to have to either choose not to see this production at all, or you’ll have to look away a lot. (I watched the second two episodes while doing the ironing – that worked quite well.) That’s my warning. There are shots of cut-open chests, bellies, and so on. Very gruesome, not for the fainthearted.

The doctors, I didn’t really care all that much about. Naz was a complete dick – father of two who walked out on his wife because well, he just didn’t fancy being with her any more. Paul didn’t really do much, and I never got a very clear understanding of why he didn’t see his daughter. He also over-stepped boundaries when trying to get with Jane when he already knows she’s seeing Alec. And Jane is a fool for not telling him properly to sod off. Alec is a bit awkward in the relationship department, but you can tell he cares. In fact, he doesn’t even admit the real (very nice and honourable) reason for being late for his own party. Not sure why he doesn’t even tell Jane about it.

It’s fascinating following the procedures of the air ambulance, but if it’s not an accurate depiction, why do they even bother? It looks real, so why not just make it real, if that’s what you’re after? Yes, us common folk won’t know the difference, but there are people out there who do. Why not make it realistic for those people too?

I don’t know, but I didn’t get the feeling these four 75-minute (ish) episodes were prime time telly. Just felt … sub par. Bonus points for Richard Armitage, obviously, but if I had seen it on TV, I might have lasted about five minutes before switching over to something else. It’s not exactly the same kind of production value as Spooks. It’s more akin to Moving On, except Moving On gets away with it, because the storylines are lower-key, less dramatic, less reliant on props.

So no, if I had to sell my DVD collection, I wouldn’t be too heartbroken to let that one go. Still, nice to see Richard Armitage as a doctor. A flying doctor. Not just that, but a nice, kind, lovely sort of guy. He’s not a baddie by any means, and that’s refreshing. Shame the rest of it is a bit meh, with big spots of eww, and it doesn’t follow up on all the plot points it sets up: end of episode one – we don’t find out what happens with the girl. That’s annoying. I was expecting a resolution, not a bloody cliffhanger that never gets resolved!

So hmm, it sure tries the best it can, but it doesn’t really get there. 2.5 out of 5 ketamine shots. They did seem keen on using that. And adrenaline. Well, it didn’t exactly get my heart racing, that’s for sure.

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel. Will get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted along the way.

12 thoughts on “The Golden Hour (2005)

  1. It has been a while since I watched this so I am glad for the reminder and I will dust it off. What I do remember was RA looks great in white t-shirts and orange jump suits – that he is in command as a physician – Just love strong men and he has the girl, but doesn’t quite know what to do with her – well, sort of. Oh, did I mention that he looked amazing jumping into the helicopter and the form fitting white t-shirt was a great fit.

  2. Great review! If I wasn’t so tired of these medical dramas, I could give a chance to the Golden Hour and take a look at dr. Alec Track !!

  3. I definitely prefer the screencaps over the show. Dr. Track is an interesting character. However, he doesn’t have enough screentime.

  4. As you say, bonus points for Richard Armitage, although I never felt orange was really “his” color.

    For US watchers I think the obvious comparison is ER, which kind of set the standard for “realism” in everything that came after it. This is no ER; in comparison with ER it’s actually tedious and boring. Emergency drama is supposed to be exciting. It’s not just that they pause to recite all that medical jargon with all of its syllables, it’s that the repeated flashback style of the narration kills the suspense. The excitement of the ER is that you get one chance to get it right. Seeing it however many times (when it wasn’t that exciting in the first place) kills it.

    I’d watch him in anything but this is not something I rewatch and in fact I am not sure I’ve seen the fourth episode all the way through. I hope he got some nice money for it, though.

  5. Thanks for the reminder about this show. I watched it some time ago and only because Mr. Armitage has played. The idea of ​​the show seems to be interesting, kind of like how a “small” event can lead to real tragedy, and what could be do to avoid this accident. However, by the constant flashbacks series seemed very boring. The only advantage of the show was great acting of RA and he really looks great, but I think I’m not objective 😉

  6. Although The Golden Hour isn’t one of my RA faves, Richard looks DANG HOT as Dr. Track! 🙂

  7. Thanks! Yeah, I’m not big on medical dramas … well, aside from The Flying Doctors, but then, that was always not just about the medicine, but more about the characters. Or so I like to believe. *cough*

  8. Yes, I found that interesting too (especially because of where I used to work – the tanker truck was very much something they’d train people on how to deal with!) … but yeah, there were just too many and too cut-up flashbacks.

  9. Agree. Incidentally, wasn’t E.R. an American re-make of Casualty? I know the latter is still going, but I think the American version did a lot better. I mean, that’s where George Clooney came from, wasn’t it? 🙂

    The recital of medical jargon felt like they were trying very hard to be authentic, but it didn’t come out as sincere – just like they were … well, trying very hard to say it right.

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