WootFlix: Take a Gander at Green Wing

by Randall Cleveland

Your time's valuable. That's why you need to know before you commit to watching an old television show on Netflix that it's going to be good, dammit! So I filter the detritus of Netflix Instant and watch it all at work so I can let you know what's worth watching and what's not worth the trouble. It all gets piled into a little thing I call WootFlix.

This week's show: The British sitcom "Green Wing"

What's the pitch?
An absurdist sitcom following the lives and foibles of employees in a hospital without bothering much at all with the "hospital" part.

Whos' in it?
Mark Heap, Olivia Colman, Tamsin Greig, and Stephen Mangan, among others.

So how is it?
Up and down, to be honest. The show comes highly recommended and with great critical acclaim, so maybe it's just cultural differences (PS - those freewheeling Brits have more relaxed standards regarding language and breasts than the puritanical US, so if you're watching at work beware the occasional curse word and/or lingerie-clad woman humping office furniture). The show definitely hits high notes, and there's real talent in the writing, but it also suffers from just a bit too much "British quirkiness" for my taste.

The show's also fond of using weird shifts in speed: every scene starts and ends with either slow- or fast-motion shots. The idea, I've read, is to highlight status and emotion through focusing on the characters' physical actions. It ends up just making weird bookends that sort of distract.

The show plays like a series of vignettes or loosely-related sketches highlighting various severely-flawed people dealing with heightened senses of id, ego, and sexual deviance, so if you're looking for something with an arc and a plot to sink your teeth into, this might not be your cup of tea. If you're a fan of silly British comedy though, or just lighthearted, easily-digested comedy in general, put this at the top of your list.

Got a recommendation you'd like to see Randall review? Disagree about "Green Wing?" Let us know in the comments!