A Young Doctor’s Notebook

Last watched November 2016

In the early 20 Century, a young doctor arrives in a small Russian town around the time of the Russian revolution. He must navigate the strong-headedness resistance of the local population, the shadow of the well loved previous doctor and his struggles with isolation and boredom that drive him, at least in part, to addiction.


When I asked my friend Zelda if she’d watched this, she got very excited. She explained that English translations of Russian texts often fall very, very short because apparently we have no concept of how funny the Russians can be. The dark and deeply unsettling humour that A Young Doctor’s Notebook embodies is a good translation of the original text, apparently.

I have shown A Young Doctor’s Notebook to a couple of people since watching it (and loving it). Every time I’ve realised, half way through the first episode, that it’s not really something you can sit down and watch with someone. The jokes are very dark and deeply rooted in body horror. There’s a splatstick scene where the doctor gets cocky and tries to remove someone’s tooth, for instance, pulling out a shard of jaw in doing so. It is very funny and deeply upsetting.

As a general opinion, I don’t think Daniel Radcliffe can act well, but he does very well in this alongside John Hamm.

Pros: well written, well directed, well acted, good cinematography
Cons: no women directors, no women writers, barely woman characters. No PoC. No queers. A veritable bro-fest and they could have done better.
Genre: Dark comedy, black comedy, British comedy

Approach carefully if: you have difficulty with substance abuse, particularly morphine, intense body horror, medical procedures, mention of sexually transmitted diseases, isolation, mental illness (hallucinations)

Can be found: Netflix
Accessibility: subtitles 🙂
If you liked, I recommend: Black Mirror, Raised by Wolves


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