This is your first look at A Young Doctor’s Notebook, the four-part British miniseries starring Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe as the older and younger versions of Russian doctor Vladimir Bomgard. During young Vlad’s stint as the only doctor for miles in a remote hospital, he regularly panics at the lack of support, experiences the symptoms of the drug addiction that crippled the author of the book on which this is based, and has to perform several grisly surgeries and amputations. All while old Vlad dispenses sardonic advice and mocks him. And this is a comedy!
Daniel is a surprisingly good choice to play young Jon, not only because of their shared fondness for letting their junk hang out. (I’m talking, of course, about Daniel’s very naked turn in Equus while he was still doing the Harry Potter movies, and the fact that Jon seems to always go commando.) I never noticed the resemblance between the two dark-haired stars, especially when they’re giving you that creepily intense stare in the photo above. Of course, as we learned with Looper, prosthetics and good acting united Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. But it’s also cool to have two actors who look like themselves and like each other without any help.
The miniseries sounds really intense, as the conceit alone makes it clear that Vladimir is slowly going crazy all alone at this Russian hospital. It doesn’t help that the facilities are shit and the surgeries he has to perform make me shudder. I’ll let The Guardian describe them: Acted with a degree of slapstick and gore, the adaptation includes a tooth extraction from hell, an eruption of pus like a water cannon from an infected eye, and that horrific leg amputation, with a blunt saw. On top of that is the eeriness of old Vlad taunting his younger counterpart in these scenes.
But it’s not all bad: Apparently the two share a bath, as Vlad struggles to stay warm in the unforgiving Russian winter. ”You know you are the envy of every woman in the world,” Daniel told The Guardian, “but the bath soon turns cold.” He also added that Jon is “really funny, one of the best technical actors around.” We’ve already had the treat of seeing both of these actors poke fun at themselves through comedy—Jon in his 30 Rock guest stints and Daniel playing a version of himself on Extras. So I’m really excited to see them taking on darker comedy, especially since this is Jon’s passion project.
Harry Potter and Don Draper, who’da thunk.
Photo: Colin Hutton