Screen Savors: Fun in the ER

Whether you're into graphic grotesque or comic malady, Channel 8's Bizarre ER just might be the drug you're looking for.

bizarre er 88 (photo credit: )
bizarre er 88
(photo credit: )
We're not really into hospital shows. Just having our blood pressure taken makes us weak in the knees. But, while waiting for other channels to finish operating on their summer schedules, we had an unexpectedly good time watching Channel 8's breezy BBC import, Bizarre ER. The series doesn't take medicine too seriously, which makes it such fun. After all, the mayhem documented at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital Accidents and Emergency department over five months is serious enough. But presented with a mix of humor and information, the program is an Rx for a dull day. "We were waiting for the unusual cases," says cheeky narrator Freema Agyeman, and there are plenty. In the episode we saw, the injuries all took place during the Christmas season, with patients showing up with all kinds of weird stuff. "Tis the season to be injured," says Agyeman, and the locals didn't disappoint. First there was Ben, "who's come to A&E complaining of a troublesome nail, and it's going to take more than a manicure to fix it," says our narrator as we get a close-up of the one he accidentally fired into his own finger with a nail gun. While following the procedure - "Ben faces a nail-biting overnight wait for surgery" - is fun, it's the little extras we enjoyed, like the cartoon follow-up after Ben's bit, about an LA construction worker who fell off a building, landing on top of another worker using a nail gun, which fired six nails into the first worker's skull. Miraculously, the poor guy escaped paralysis and death. Stupid people tricks are also on display. So we meet Hannah, who while rushing out to a taxi with friend Joanna fell off her ridiculously high heels. "No, she didn't stumble on the booze, she fell off her shoes," explains Agyeman. Lucklily, no break is revealed, but we learn "High heels are a public health menace," with a graphic indicating that 8,508 women were hurt in incidents involving wearing high heels in a year. Talk about putting your foot in it. But that's nothing compared to the follow-up cartoon item - the story of one young woman who drank 25 units of alcohol within three hours, fell backwards off her bed (You hear her "ouch!") onto a brown leather stiletto heel which penetrated her spinal canal. The heel had to be removed surgically in a London hospital. That was followed up by a story of a transvestite who threw his/her metal-high-heeled shoe at a man which stuck in his head, requiring him to undergo brain surgery. Now that's being a real heel. Christmas season is just plain dangerous. During the 12 Days of Christmas, some 80,000 Brits end up in the ER, including - as we see in a hysterical cartoon segment - a number who were "watering the Christmas tree while the fairy lights are plugged in. (cue loud yelp)" Even kissing under the mistletoe isn't safe, since the weeks following Xmas are high in cases of sexually transmitted disease, for people who "come to realize they got something they didn't want for Christmas." You've got to admire the writers, not to mention the crew that has the stomach to film some of these cases. Like the farmer who turned his hand into what the doctor called "the dog's dinner" while fence-posting. Thankfully there's "the recommended reminder to turn away quick" when things get too yucky. "Any plans he had to play tiddlywinks over the next two weeks might have to be put on hold," Agyeman deadpans. Lastly, there are unusual medical terms that have been officially added to the UK medical dictionary, like "the Hasselhoff," based on the Baywatch star of the same name. With David Hasselhoff shown in cartoon form, we learn that while shaving in a fancy hotel, he hit a fancy overhead light fixture, which shattered and severed four tendons and an artery (cue: OUCH!). "Take care out there, or you may end up a Hasselhoff," says the narrator, signing off. So there we have it, a half hour featuring mind-numbing accidents and strange illnesses in the ER that's been a real treat - now that's television. The BBC deserves full credit for producing such a well-written and informative medical show, and Channel 8 for buying it. Bizarre ER will literally have you in stitches. Bizarre ER airs on Channel 8 several times a week.