American TV producers turned the mid-00’s into med-00’s. They seemed to have found a golden goose in medical dramas, and for a good reason. There was House MD for sociopaths, Scrubs for the good timers, Grey’s Anatomy for pregnant or simply emotional women, Private Practice for rich, pregnant and emotional ladies… They had it all.
Throughout all these “medicine-booming” years Russia has been collecting its thoughts to finally take a shot with its own authentic medical dramas. So here’s what we got.
Dr. Zaitseva’s Diary
The idea of this massively advertised masterpiece, broadcast daily in the very prime time on the STS TV Channel, spins around a young heartbroken plump blonde. We meet Alexandra Zaitseva at a very low point of her life: she has just been dumped by her fiancé. The usual scheme “break up—cry a lot—eat chocolate—get happy” couldn’t be an asset to the awesomeness of the plot, so we end up with… A plump traumatized blonde willing to be a surgeon: “cut, cut and then cut some more”, as she explained.
This is where it all begins. The series were supposed to be a subtle ironic comedy, somewhat a mixture of “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Sex & the City”, plus blonde hair and extra weight, which might be a reference to Bridget Jones. In this case, we wish Renee Zellweger never bumps into any Russian TV channels.
In fact, this is a disaster movie infusing the audience with concerns about the Russian healthcare in general and mental health of Russian plump blondes in particular. Almost no attention is paid to treating patients—who cares? This chaos could take place anywhere else—a police station, a zoo, the Kremlin, wherever.
Doctor Zaitseva is constantly torn between a bad-ass surgeon and a gynecologist. Moreover, she talks to herself, mainly guessing who she is gonna flirt/kiss/spend the night with. All the staff members sleep with each other on such a regular basis that you might get an idea this is some kind of a secret medical procedure.
Add the miserable quasi-optimistic soundtrack and primitively written dialogues—and after watching this epic drama for 15 minutes, a simple thought of having your appendicitis treated by Russian blonde doctors will make you suffer.
Tyrsa MD (or Doctor Tyrsa) is a living proof that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Or bad TV projects happen to decent actors like Mikhail Porechenkov. On a promo poster he has that guilty “I-was-forced-to-do-this” look that makes him similar to a dog that has just chewed on your favorite slippers.
Tyrsa is a charmingly terrible adaptation of Dr. House. The term “adaptation” is a bit misleading: this is Dr. House as if he was born in Russia. Which means, he is addicted to strong alcohol instead of vicodin; he works in a local sports hospital in the middle of nowhere instead of enjoying Princeton Plainsboro facilities, and he is a genius with Russian passport instead having an American one. Tyrsa suffers from a personal drama—his bride is in coma—but that doesn’t stop him from stepping up to a female pathologist (it would be awesome if pathologist was Dr. Zaytseva—we could kill two birds with one stone).
Every episode starts with a depiction of ordinary sportsmen doing ordinary things, but suddenly—BOOM!—they collapse, and the next second comes Tyrsa-the-almighty. No similarities with House, none at all.
Sportsmen suffering from “mysterious” diseases come and go; Tyrsa keeps on drinking, actors around him keep Stanislavsky stirring nervously even beyond the grave. The common sense of B&V editorial came to a logical end when we saw an episode where Dr. Tyrsa was supposed to treat a sumo fighter.
“Interns” are a moderate interpretation of the hysterically funny American sitcom “Scrubs”—and not hiding from this obvious association might be their wisest decision. “Interns” are a never-ending story about a bunch of typical medstudents who just came in a real hospital to complete their internship. The bunch includes a nerd, a hot chick, a wag and the chief’s son who are doing their best to become real doctors. And, of course, their supervisor (Dr. Bykov) is a real pain in the ass, who turns the life of the interns into a nightmare.
One episode lasts just 25 mins, and each one of those 25 is full of hyperbolized silly situations: so keep a poker face when you see how the interns try to treat a guy whose head is stuck in a teapot.
Our verdict: this sitcom fits perfectly into a cosy post-office evening at home when you need to catch a break and to watch something that doesn’t require your brain to perform its functions at all.
Those were the Russian medical TV series we’ve seen so far—and we keep our fingers crossed that someday our blue screens will light up with something equally authentic, medical and decent. Stay tuned not to miss that!