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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Doctor Foster: The Affair, On the Other Side of the Pond

I just watched Doctor Foster, the five-part British 2015 series, recently brought over here by Netflix, after a showing earlier last year on Lifetime.  Excellent on all accounts.

The story starts off as many extra-marital affairs that shake-up families do: Gemma finds a blonde hair on her husband's scarf.  She's a brunette, and off we go.

But Doctor Foster has unusual depth and attention to character detail, and this puts the series in league with the other fine account of an affair - The Affair - and in some ways Doctor Foster is better. Gemma is a doctor - Doctor Foster - and has a practice that is in itself the stuff of good narrative.  Her husband is on the surface a genial real estate developer, but there's much more beneath the surface. And their son Tom, who looks to be about 11-to-12-years old, has just the right amount of savvy for someone that age.

The series is lifted by Suranne Jones's portrayal of Gemma.   Jones has a very expressive face, and conveys Gemma's quick changes of mood, as she struggles with what to believe and what to do about it, what to show to the public and what not, very effectively.   The story is well parked in our digital age, as when Gemma is called in by her superior after negative comments are posted about her on a web site that rates and gives feedback about doctors.

Unlike The Affair, in which crime and police investigation are an essential part of the narrative, Doctor Foster sticks almost completely with the affair at hand, and its ramifications.  Packed with twists, and highly recommended.

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