Monday, June 5, 2017

The Heart Guy

Rodger Corser as Hugh Knight.
With a lifestyle built around drugs, alcohol, and sex, it's not surprisingly that hot shot heart specialist Dr. Hugh Knight is banned from performing surgery. Amazingly, he's allowed to keep his medical license on the condition that he stay clean for a year and practice medicine in a rural community far from the temptations of big city life in Sydney.

That rural community turns out to be his hometown of Whyhope, where Hugh becomes a general practitioner at a small clinic. Initially, the clinic's administrator is the only person who knows the real reason for the prodigal son's return.

Hugh's new life gets off to a rocky start when old wounds start to fester. His former flame (Nicole de Silva) is now married to his brother (Ryan Johnson), but may still harbor feelings for Hugh. He and his father are barely on speaking terms. His mother still dotes on her "genius son" at the expense of Hugh's brothers (one of whom was adopted). It's going to be a tough twelve months....
Nicole de Silva, Ryan Johnson, and Rodger Corser.
The premise may sound similar to Doc Martin, since both lead characters are first-rate surgeons relegated to general practice in scenic small towns with colorful characters. However, the comparisons end there. The predominant theme in The Heart Guy is one of atonement and, though it's clear that Hugh is trying, it's fascinating to watch him struggle to reach his goal of practicing surgery again.

In the first episode, Hugh wants to celebrate after saving a man's life. When he finds each member of his family otherwise engaged, he decides to party with a young nurse. It's a quick relapse that almost costs him his medical license. It's a telling scene that shows that Hugh finds satisfaction in his medical work--he truly wants to save lives. It also shows that he has a long journey ahead in terms of making making responsible decisions outside his medical practice.

Tina Bursill as Hugh's mom.
Handsome Rodger Corser, best known in the U.S. for crime-themed dramas like The Doctor Blake Mysteries, portrays Hugh with a combination of arrogance and vulnerability (with an emphasis on the former). The most interesting supporting character is his mother, played by veteran Aussie actress Tina Bursill, who accept bribes from local contractors for the good of the town. (The fact that she buries the money in her backyard is another matter.)

Titled Doctor, Doctor in Australia, the series became an immediate hit when it debuted in 2016. A second season was commissioned after the second episode. It finished its first season as one of the ten most watched television series in Australia.

American viewers can check out The Heart Guy when it debuts today on the streaming service Acorn TV.

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