sat 25/11/2017

Doctor Foster, Series 2, BBC One review - belief suspended for a pacy and tense return | reviews, news & interviews

Doctor Foster, Series 2, BBC One review - belief suspended for a pacy and tense return

Doctor Foster, Series 2, BBC One review - belief suspended for a pacy and tense return

The revenge drama stretched credulity, but quickened the pulse

An apple a day is clearly a placebo: Jones and Carvel

They say that living well is the best revenge. To be fair, they also say it’s a dish best served cold and I’m pretty sure they’re thinking of gazpacho, so I’m not entirely clear how much real meaning is to be found in these dictums. I’m also not sure how much real meaning is to be found in BBC One’s infidelity drama Doctor Foster, which returned to our screens for a second series and saw Suranne Jones as the titular doc left reeling by the return of her cheating hubby, Simon (Bertie Carvel) and his former fling, now wife, Kate (Jodie Comer). 

We’ll need to, if possible, ignore the fact that Simon had managed, within the space of two years, to amass a fortune that saw him able to buy a million-pound house in the smart part of town. And could we just park those doubts as to whether Gemma would really have gone to said house, got out of her car, found the back door unlocked and then, crucially, decided to have a little look around in a move that would have made any self-respecting stalker have second thoughts? 

'Doctor Foster' might not make a huge amount of sense, but it doesn’t have to

It looks like we’re going to have to, because the episode was shot through with moments of doubtful motivation and unbelievably poor judgment calls, but then, so was the whole of series one. In a way it doesn’t matter, the acting (particularly from Jones and Carvel) is excellent, and the relentless pace drives the tension incredibly well. Have no doubt though, Doctor Foster has little to tell us about the human condition – not with a range of characters so relentlessly unsympathetic they make the Tory party conference look like a gathering of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. 

There were neat echoes of the mass conspiracy of silence regarding Simon’s affair in series one as Gemma gatecrashed a party to celebrate his new marriage and found her friends in attendance. You could feel the sucker punch land, and it was powerfully played by Jones. However, In order to get to this point, we were supposed to accept the following. Firstly, on a date with James, a teacher (Prasanna Puwanarajah, pictured below with Jones), Gemma was so worried about her 15-year-old son having a glass of wine – with his dad – that she needed to go to the party immediately. Secondly, that she would walk into this nailed-on nightmare with a nice man she hardly knew, not considering for a second that this may make him uncomfortable. Thirdly, at no point in the evening did said nice man seem in any way uncomfortable. It was only after an awkward toast, a nose around the marital bedroom and getting her ex to rise to the occasion, that Gemma seemed to remember why she was there in the first place and went off to look for Tom, having long since abandoned James. While concern for her son might seem laudable, let us not forget this is the same child who, in series one, Gemma pretended to have killed as part of a grand plan; the son whom she sent over to Kate’s house in the knowledge that he’d find his father in flagrante. It’s far from the full Fritzel, but it’s fair to say that she’s not in the running for any parenting awards. 

This made the scene where Gemma found Simon in her home, waiting to take Tom to live with him up at the big house, a rather confusing one. While there was a quite natural sense of empathy for any parent rejected by their child, Tom (Tom Taylor, pictured below with Jones) had more reason than most to do so. It did seem an incredible volte-face from his earlier stand however, unless he'd been in cahoots with his father all along? Actually, hadn’t she been awarded custody? And he’s only 15 so… However, any concerns about the legality of the situation didn’t have time to loiter before an extravagantly large bottle of acid was deployed to dissolve a wedding ring. While this undoubtedly conveys – I dunno, something I guess – I was too busy reeling from the sheer speed of the drama to take it all in. Could there be murder in mind? Does smoking ever really look this cool?

And that’s the point. Doctor Foster might not make a huge amount of sense, but it doesn’t have to. The script cracks along with confidence, clever pacing and enough smart twists to keep the audience guessing, while Carvel and Jones manage to imbue their thoroughly unlikeable characters with just enough humanity for us to care. 

@jahshabby

The characters are so unsympathetic, they make the Tory party conference look like a gathering of the Make-A-Wish Foundation

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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