Review of The Clinic

Evening Herald Sept 09

DOMINIC MAFHAM

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Dangerous Dan needs fresh air


The Clinic (RTE1, SUNDAY)


By Pat Stacey

Monday September 28 2009



Some television bad guys are just too bad for their own good. Take plastic surgeon Dr Dan Woodhouse from The Clinic, which returned last night for a credibility defying seventh series.

Dan, splendidly played by Dominic Mafham, is so much bigger and so much badder than anyone else in The Clinic that the walls can barely contain his presence. He's so shifty and untrustworthy that before he even opens his mouth to utter a denial, you already know he's lying. You could ask Dan for the time and be sure he'd set you running 10 minutes fast or 10 minutes slow.

In fact, we were barely 10 minutes into last night's episode and Dan had already escaped a murder charge for kicking someone to death and blackmailed a HIV-positive colleague into helping him wriggle out of the consequences of overcharging for drugs.

Dan is a class-A bastard, a JR for D4, and he's worthy of a bigger showcase -- a tale of corporate skullduggery, perhaps, or the intrigues of a royal court -- in which to wreak havoc.

Slick

The downside of having such a vivid central character is that it makes everything else about The Clinic seem small, dull and artificial by comparison. For all the slickness, the (mostly) high quality of the acting and the satisfyingly preposterous storylines, you never get the sense that there's a wider world beyond the claustrophobic confines of the Clarence Road Clinic.

Like a soap opera on a bigger budget, The Clinic exists in a bubble. There are plenty of exterior establishing shots of a picture-postcard Dublin scattered throughout every episode, yet most of the action takes place indoors.

The sets, whether for the interior of the clinic itself or for the world's least convincing nightclub -- where another character, receptionist Ruairi (Aidan Turner), moonlights as a DJ -- never look like anything other than sets. If I was a script doctor I'd recommend that The Clinic gets outside and takes some exercise. If nothing else, it would provide dangerous Dan with a few more characters to screw over.


- Pat Stacey