Thursday, 21 February 2013


The first series of Monroe, the ITV drama starring James Nesbitt (Occupation, Jekyll) in the title role, arrives this thursday on Arte. The Franco-German channel airs three episodes (!) tonight and the remaining three next week.

Gabriel Monroe is a genius neurosurgeon, a falsely arrogant virtuoso whose flamboyance hides a true interest for his patients but also pains from the past. He's brilliant and witty but has no idea that his family life is a mess. And his wife is going to give him a crash course.

Writer Peter Bowker (Occupation, Wuthering Heights, Blackpool), certainly didn't do a favour to Monroe when he told that he hoped his creation would achieve a similar dramatic intensity to that found in the American drama House (1). Gabriel has a Wilson too but it's a trainee (Michelle Asante) with a propension to fainting, and his bedside manners are better than those of the Princeton-Plainsboro maverick doc. In fact this unconventional master of neurosurgery is more Jeffrey Geiger (Mandy Patinkin in Chicago Hope) than House and James Nesbitt is at his best - he needed it after the bonekickeresque The Deep.

Sarah Parish (Mistresses) plays cardiac surgeon Jenny Bremner and Tom Riley (Lost in Austen) is anaesthetist Lawrence Shepherd. Monroe is produced by Mammoth Screen and exec produced by Peter Bowker, Michele Buck and Damien Timmer. The pleasant intro theme and the music are by Dominik Scherrer (Primeval) and the title sequence (2) is from Momoco (Injustice, Zen, Luther, Strike Back). The first three episodes of this first series are directed by Paul McGuigan (Sherlock) and episodes four, five and six are directed by David Moore (Merlin, The Forsyte Saga).

Monroe has its defects, like the annoying visual effects and the clichéed use of songs, but this enjoyable drama worths more than the comparisons with House. Too bad it lasted only two series.

We reviewed the premiere of Monroe when ITV1 aired it in 2011:

(2) Starting with episode two.,CmC=7314082.html (In French)

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