Impressions: Quacks

Network
BBC Two
Release Date
August 15th, 2017
Episodes
S01E01 ” The Duke’s Tracheotomy”

Imagine surgeries as public spectacles, surgeons as minor celebrities, and you have an idea of what Quacks is about. Quacks is a comedy set in London during the 1840s and focuses on three young medical professionals: Robert, John, and William.

Robert (Rory Kinnear) is a famous surgeon, who somehow managed to cut off the wrong body part (in the lower regions, ahem) during an operation. John (Tom Basden) is experimenting with ways to induce anesthesia but is really just pulling out teeth for a living. William (Matthew Baynton) is an alienist, what we now call psychiatrists, who works at the same hospital as Robert and is interested in trying out new techniques.

BBC has classified it as a show about medical pioneers during the first half of the 19th century. John and William may fall into this category, but Robert most likely doesn’t. It’s unclear whether his blunders are due to his incompetence or if it’s just for show.

Andrew Scott in Quacks

I feel Quacks didn’t offer much to keep me interested. The show adheres to an episodic formula and at this point, there doesn’t seem to be an overarching story that will span the season. One thing that might lead to a season-long narrative is the lustful interactions between William and Robert’s wife, Caroline (Lydia Leonard). The only other potential plot-point might be John’s financial troubles.

For a “comedy” there weren’t that many attempts at humour, and when there were, I didn’t find the gags that funny. One absurd example would be Robert accidentally setting his patient’s arm on fire. Quacks makes an attempt at blending the comedy and period drama genres together, but it only partially succeeds because the writers have some research.

It’s difficult to create a period drama that is both historically accurate and funny, and this just looks like a poor parody of The KnickQuacks isn’t my cup of Chamomile tea.

Andrew Yeh on Email
Andrew Yeh
Writer

Andrew Yeh is an avid consumer of television. Thanks to the Internet, he is now able to watch as many shows as he wants whenever he can! His other passions in life are video games and anime. Andrew completed a Bachelor of Communication at Massey University, which is an experience that provided him with a deeper appreciation of the media.