Review: Good Karma Hospital, season 1

Neil Morrissey, James Floyd, Darshan Jariwala, Sagar Radia, Nimmi Harasgama, Phyllis Logan, Philip Jackson, Amanda Redman, and Amrita Acharia in Good Karma Hospital

Good Karma Hospital comes from the UK by way of Acorn TV for American audiences. A young doctor, Ruby Walker (Amrita Acharia), breaks up with a long time boyfriend. She decides to leave England and work for a while in a modern hospital in India.

Amanda Redman and Amrita Acharia in Good Karma Hospital
Dr. Fonseca and Dr. Walker are at odds much of the time

When she arrives in India, she’s not is a city or a modern hospital. She’s in a small town on the southern coast in an understaffed hospital called Good Karma Hospital. It’s run by Dr. Lydia Fonseca (Amanda Redman). Dr. Fonseca is a tyrant who is convinced she knows what’s best in every situation. Dr. Fonseca is downright prickly. I liked her immediately. It took me a bit longer to warm up to the broken-hearted Dr. Walker.

Let me fill you in on the remainder of the regular cast. Dr. Fonseca’s secret boy toy is the bar owner Greg (Neil Morrissey). Many scenes that aren’t in the hospital take place around his beachside bar.

Dr. Gabriel Varma (James Floyd) and Dr. Ram Nair (Darshan Jariwala) are the other doctors at the hospital. AJ (Sagar Radia) is Dr. Nair’s son and the driver of the ambulance. The nurse Mari (Nimmi Harasgama) does a whole lot of everything around the hospital.

Philip Jackson and Phyllis Logan in Good Karma Hospital
Maggie loves India. Paul does not.

The other two characters in every episode of season 1 are English tourists Paul (Philip Jackson) and Maggie Smart (Phyllis Logan). Maggie is dying and her greatest wish is to do it in India and not go back to England where friends and family wait.

At this small hospital, the doctors are called on to deal with just about every kind of patient: broken bones, strokes, botched home births, illegal kidney transplants, ovarian cysts, gluten intolerance, dementia, drug addiction, and Maggie’s brain tumor. Dr. Walker is a pediatrician. The first few days she’s there she says things like, “But I’m not a surgeon,” and, “But I’m not a gynecologist,” until she finally gets it – she has to do it all.

When I began this series, I thought it might be all sweetness and light. Lovely people do heartwarming things for needy people. It was not like that. It was about hard choices and the practicalities of giving good care with few resources. It was about how people learn to respect and appreciate one another when it doesn’t feel natural at first.

The scenery was beautiful. It was actually filmed in Sri Lanka, not India. As you expect of a story set in India, most scenes were teeming with people. Occasionally characters had quiet moments alone, but they were rare.

I enjoyed season 1 of Good Karma Hospital. The actors were well cast and their characters had time to develop. The plots were engaging. There were no car chases or people with automatic weapons. It is strictly real people and real life, with no mysterious and unexpected plot twists. Thanks to my Twitter pal @KathyMullen for suggesting I’d like this series.

Good Karma Hospital was renewed for a second season. It will air in the UK on iTV before it’s streamed on Acorn TV.

Have you seen Good Karma Hospital? What did you think of it?

 

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