Doctor Finlay (TV Series 1993–1996) Poster

(1993–1996)

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Rough country doctoring
hgallon31 July 2001
One of the enduring sources from which British television draws its plots is the works of author A.J. Cronin (e.g. "The Citadel"). These all involve questions of medical facts and ethics, but being written and set in the 1930's and 1940's, lack the urgency of a series such as "Casualty" or "E.R".

In the 1960's, there was a whole series, "Dr. Finlay's Casebook", built around one of Cronin's characters (starring Bill Simpson). Bravely, Scottish Television have brought Finlay back to life and rendered him in colour, something of a shock to those of us who remember the original in black-and-white from so many years ago.

The new series resumes in the aftermath of World War II. Dr. Finlay has been serving overseas in the Royal Army Medical Corps, and returns to the small town of Tannochbrae in Scotland expecting to resume life as it was. However, while his crusty colleague Dr. Cameron is unchanged, everything else has been affected by the war. His fiancée has decided not to wait for him, he must deal with new colleagues and even the arrangements of the practice are overturned as the resolutely chaste housekeeper is wooed by the local chemist.

The overall emotion to come from the first few episodes of the series is a sense of let-down, as Finlay finds that after a World War, familiar small tragedies caused by ignorance and poverty still persist. Later, as he and other members of his practice rebuild their lives, a more hopeful note emerges.

David Rintoul probably makes a better Dr. Finlay than Simpson did. (The late) Ian Bannen and Annette Crosbie are a superb double-act as Dr. Cameron and housekeeper Janet Macpherson. Other good performances come from Margo Gunn (Nurse Brenda Maitland), Jessica Turner (Dr. Elizabeth Napier) and Gordon Reid (chemist Angus Livingstone). Some viewers may find the harsh Scottish accents of some of the incidental characters such as Dr. Finlay's patients a little grating, but this adds to the faultless authenticity.

Overall, don't expect fireworks but be prepared to be entertained.
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10/10
Outstanding Series With the Freshening Breath of Life
clotblaster13 December 2005
This production is one of the finest I've ever seen: whether it be live theater, television or cinema. The stories are dramatic and gritty. The show doesn't give in to touchy-feely good endings. The actors play their characters marvelously. The story takes place in a small Scottish town after WWII. Various, believable and sometimes intense personal dramas take place in this series--which has an authentic beginning and ending. NO room for sequels here. I watched it once and then two days later stayed up all night watching it again. It has some humor but this isn't another All Creatures Great And Small (which in its way is an excellent series). I highly recommend this five-star, 10 point series.
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Not by the BBC
chrisevans-124 March 2004
To add to the previous comment, only the original Dr Findlay's Casebook was made by the BBC.

The remake Dr Findlay was not - it was made by Scottish Television.

The new version is now available in the USA on DVD.

Unfortunately the original does not seem to be available anywhere.

The original by A J Cronin was of course just a short story and the TV versions are really new works using the characters from this story.
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9/10
I really like this series
momnj2 June 2008
This is an excellent series. The actors are well cast and do a great job. The scripts are well written, although the episode endings are occasionally unfinished or hard to understand. The one problem I have with the series is that David Rintoul sometimes plays Doctor Finlay as stiffly as he played Mr. Darcy. He really needs to loosen up a bit. I have a question. Does anyone out there know where I can get a copy of the last episode in season four called "Doctor Finlay Snowbound"? I think it may have been broadcast at a later date that year as a special. It's not included in "Doctor Finlay Days Of Grace" which is the last series available for purchase.
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9/10
A cut above
eigaeye11 December 2012
This is a series about a medical practice in a Scottish town immediately after the Second World War. It is based on A.J. Cronin's characters, Dr John Finlay and Dr Alexander Cameron, and is the second television series based on the Cronin characters: the first, a good one, was made by the BBC in the 1960s. All the ingredients are there for something fairly predictable: quirky minor characters fluttering around the bright lights of the good doctors respectfully played by actors not keen to grate against an audience's well set expectations. Fortunately, this is not what the writers, producers, and performers of this excellent series are content with doing. In a number of ways this is an unusual series. First, it almost completely eschews melodrama, opting instead for a far less 'finished' or convenient approach to story-telling. Secondly, the main characters are, all of them, a sometimes exasperating, but therefore more believable, mixture of foolishness and insight, decency and bloody-mindedness. The stories are written by various writers, and there is only the slightest attempt to knit the episodes together – it is not a serial – which makes for the third unusual quality. But the performances and character development achieved within this format are first class. The art direction is exceptionally good, and the attention paid to details of verisimilitude and continuity of action would put many a better known television series to shame. There are perhaps two or three episodes that do not come off or drift through less substantial subject matter, but the other 24 or so reach a high standard indeed. Enjoyable, engaging, substantial drama.
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Haphazard Release of the episodes!!
Boogalow27 April 2006
According to the running schedule for this show, there were 27 episodes shot in the beautiful town of Auchtermuchty, Fife, Scotland. To date, there are three seasons released onto DVD in the UK. This means there are 8 episodes missing - where are they? The DVD sets themselves are nice but the order in which they are released is all over the place. DVD Set One comprises 6 episodes only, and they are: The Return/Working Together/Winning the Peace/A Bitter Pill/Forbidden Fruit and The Good Doctor. Can't find what's on Set Two (why don't online retailers put this info up??) Set Three comprises: Old Flames/Time Will Tell/Private Lives/The Earth's Sweet Being/A Natural Mistake/The Greatness & The Power and No Time for Heroes. I am waiting for set Two to arrive and when it does I'll post it's contents. Why, oh why can't distributors and TV companies work together to get the episodes out in the correct order and not just cherry pick a few eps here and there - we'd like the whole set please.
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10/10
Wonderful Experience
littlelou197512 July 2009
The 1990's version of Dr.Finlay was filmed in my home town of Auchtermuchty. A great number of residents were cast as extras which was a great opportunity (not to mention £58 a day for not doing very much!!!). The cast members were delightful, especially the very charming and humble David Rintoul. The crew were equally fantastic and great to see again in the village over the 4 years the series was filmed. However not all the scenes were filmed in Auchtermuchty (Arden House for instance was elsewhere). As a teen on location it inspired me to take an interest and go on to study Television production at college.
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10/10
the contents of set two of Doctor Finlay
paulfford-121 July 2006
Set Two contains the following episodes: "A Delicate Balance," "Childsplay," "Stolen Lives," "Burning Bridges," Secrecy," and "In Arcadia."

Perhaps another fan can tell us which episodes to look for, to hope for the DVD release of.

My wife and I are enjoying all three sets so much. I was able to read Russell Baker's script of his introductions to series two on the Masterpiece Theatre website.

Can anyone suggest where I might find more material on "Doctor Finlay"?

I'd love to see a website devoted to "Doctor Finlay" as good as the one for "Foyle's War."
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Gynocentrism and female irresponsibility glorified in otherwise fine Scottish series
menarenotabusers21 December 2015
The Scots and the Irish are so much better than the English when it comes to quality TV. This series is no exception. The settings are gorgeous, the costumes spot on, and the acting mostly very persuasive. Where it falls down, as does almost every UK TV drama since the 1990's, is the morally irresponsible way it portrays women.

Put simply, the female characters are almost never shown to receive just reward for irresponsible actions. Whether the irresponsible act is a poorly handled love interest, a false molestation accusation, or driving a hapless but honest husband to self-harm, the women are almost always given a free pass for the damage they cause. To add insult to injury, there's always a chest-thumping white knight around to deploy the all-too-common violence-by-proxy that victimhood-obsessed women love to use against men.

So what, you say? Well, the episodes more often than not end with the wrong people getting away with things and the doctor heroes doing nothing more than looking pained about it. One has to wonder why the stories are being told at all. Nothing is proved. Nothing is resolved. No-one is properly punished. The doctoring is interesting, but there's no moral resolution other than some shallow half-reference to old-fashioned values. It's like watching precocious children playing at being adults.

In summary, this show is beautifully produced and well-intentioned but ineffective and morally incoherent. If you have an interest in female moral delinquency and contiguous male patronage, or a lesson in how to treat women like children, then this is the show for you. Others will find it pretty frustrating, even with the sumptuous setting.
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