Frankie: Series 1 Episode 3 & 4 Review
Reviewed by David Selby
Paula: “You’re making a mess of everything!”
Frankie: “Yeah, and with a little help from my friends!”
I’ve often thought of comparing Frankie to Call the Midwife. Both are about a group of nurses who are happy to go the extra mile for their patients; gentle, altruistic, tolerant people. However, I find myself in the somewhat awkward position of preferring the latter. Of course, Call the Midwife is set in the days before the NHS, and is about far more than just the midwives and nurses. But Frankie is fast approaching falling into the category of ‘Forgotten Drama’. Affairs, office romances – they’re textbook melodrama. Did either of the last two episodes give me a reason to put this series above others, or did they continue with the entertaining yet unmemorable streak of the previous?
I’m glad to say, for starters, that my inability to connect with Frankie’s character in the second episode was just a temporary slip-up. I’ve found her more relatable since, especially as she’s been targeted within her group; you can sympathize with her position. Eve Myles has given a heartfelt and convincing performance which enhances the script further. However, I’ve come to accept that the show has grown bigger than the protagonist.
As for other developments, I’m really starting to become fascinated by both Zoe (Jemma Redgrave) and Paula (Leila Mimmack). I can’t say that I actually like either, and I’m now on the verge of despising them. But I do like them in terms of how they’re written. I’m intrigued to see how Zoe’s vendetta against Frankie will develop, and what the ramifications will be. Also about Paula’s pregnancy; how this will affect her dynamic with Frankie, and whether it will destroy any chances of Frankie getting back with Ian – though, to be honest, I find Andy a far more interesting character and better suited to Frankie.
In the third episode, I was pleased to see the previous episode’s case revisited; providing some vague realism by pondering the complications of Frankie’s decisions. I liked it that Frankie put her work as a nurse before the court hearing; always placing emotion before professionalism, but still turning up with a convincing case for herself.
Before I go any further, I’ll be frank: I much preferred Episode 4 to Episode 3. One of the reasons for this was the subplots: for instance, terminally-ill child Robbie’s Brother Richard (Gregory Piper) was just another superficial, egotistical teenage stereotype who did no good whatsoever for social preconceptions, whereas Episode 4’s subplot was infinitely more compelling: a mother who knows she doesn’t have long left and wanted her down-syndrome daughter to have the best life possible. It was simple, but totally absorbing, with a really heart-warming conclusion. I was also fascinated by Clive (Tom Georgeson), but I have a bad feeling that he is going to be one-off character, which is in many ways a shame.
These last two weeks have done more than ever to reinforce the contrast between people like Frankie and people like Zoe: people who, respectively, have a life that works around their job, and a job that works around their life – or a passion and an occupation. This is what makes me loathe Paula so passionately; how she is brash with a terminally ill child – whereas Frankie would be far more sympathetic. It stems from the fact that Paula simply doesn’t care.
Finally, the most stimulating part of the last episode was the cliff-hanger revealing Frankie’s disturbing stalker. This could become a very interesting and exciting plot which really ups the magnitude of the events from the life of a normal district nurse to the target of a vindictive follower.
In conclusion, the last two episodes weren’t bad, however, whilst one was bordering on mediocre, the other made a fine stab at bringing the series back to the incredible heights set by the opener.
Episode 3 Verdict: 7/10
Episode 4 Verdict: 8.5/10