Firstly -and this might sounds strange - I wish Monroe was on BBC1. I'll come to why I wish that in just a second. I've never really liked medical dramas. It's always the same format. The Holby Ten Minutes. Some chap has a fall, then the story starts - it's all emotional and then something goes wrong, leading to either a sad ending or a miraculously good one.
I wish I could say Monroe is different, but it's not. It has the basics - Patient Of The Week, personal issues, friction at work - but it has something else. A detachment, a freshness, something that makes it feel completely different to any medical drama I've ever sat through.
It's not a masterpiece - but then it was never going to be! It's not House MD UK, either - although comparisons with inevitably be made. What we have here is s strange little show that moves too quickly for ITV. This is what I meant above; the whole thing feels far too dynamic and quirky for an ITV drama. Forgiving it some clunky dialogue and a first episode that smacks of "reworked pilot", Monroe will definitely be a quiet little mainstay in my week's television.
Episode one deals with a young woman who has a temporal lobe tumour - one wonders how many brain op stories the series can give us before it becomes routine. Next week is about a double shooting... with complications - in the brain. Although, since Nesbitt plays a neurosurgeon it's hardly an unexpected thing. More than anything - and I'm aware that this review feels dreamy and incoherent - Monroe has something that the likes of Casualty or Holby have not always managed to show; actual heart. The acting is okay, the story was thin but interesting, there were a couple of slotted-in sub-plots and some stinking dialogue at times. But this show has heart! Jimmy Nesbitt's arrogant detachment from the work his character performs is clearly deliberate and works well.
I could talk in contradictions all night long - it's not great but I loved it etc etc etc. But I won't. I'll sum up with a bit of comparison; you can tell it's been directed by McGuigan... There's more than a little "Sherlock" about this show - cocky characters, snappy scenes, very clever use of on-screen graphics... And, since Nesbitt is one of Britain's most watchable actors, a combination of gorgeous cinematography and Irish charm mean that you can simply overlook the bumps in the road.
I'm completely ignorant when it comes to medical terminology and processes, but there's a sense that this show is very well researched and that this research reaches the screen. I loved this little show - but it is that; a little show. It isn't a water-cooler conversation-starter by any means, but it might just be the perfect show to sit down to with a cuppa and a smile.