Getting On takes place in the geriatric wing of a struggling hospital and follows a staff of overworked doctors and nurses and the elderly patients they look after. Though the tone is darkly comic, this critically-acclaimed series addresses very real issues such as death, hopelessness, abusive patients and the things it takes to survive a high-stress work environment. The hospital's care workers do whatever it takes to stay sane while dealing with unruly patients, their children and their bosses.
Based on BBC Four's awarding-winning comedy series of the same name created by and starring Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan, and Vicki Pepperdine, the U.S. version of 'Getting On' was developed by Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer, who have written every episode. Set in the Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit of the Mount Palms Hospital in Long Beach, CA, the second season of this impressive sitcom continues to successfully mine humor out of sad and tragic situations.
“No Such Thing As Idealized Genitalia” is both the title for the season opener and a phrase uttered by Dr. Jenna James (Laurie Metcalf), who is conducting studies about gender flips, requiring patients be photographed in the most intimate of areas. When an administrator tells Dr. James the hospital is going to stop financing her geriatric studies, this opens the door to the unit becoming a hospice to make revenue, which becomes a season-long story arc.
The odd relationship between supervising nurse Patsy De La Serda (Mel Rodriguez) and head nurse Dawn Forchette (Alex Borstein) appears to be progressing, but in “Is Soap a Hazardous Substance?” he freaks out so much after she tells him she put down a deposit on an apartment for them to live that he thinks he had a heart attack. Making matters worse he refuses to see a cardiologist in the main hospital because he has already been spoken to about his weight issues by HR and is worried it may put his job at risk.
Things grow tenser between Patsy and Dawn when he is surprised by the news of her pregnancy during a staff meeting about the levels of alcohol in the soap. Olsen and Scheffer do a great job in creating passive-aggressive dialogue for the characters and that certainly comes out when Patsy makes clear he wants her to get an abortion though doesn't say it. The "couple" reaches complete dysfunction in the last episode of the season, “Doctor Death.” Dawn marries Dennis Beardman (Kurtis Bedford), the security guard who briefly appeared in the previous episode, to make Patsy jealous.
“The Seventh Annual Christmas Card Competition” allows viewers an opportunity to see Dr. James' tender side when a patient with terminal ovarian cancer (Carrie Preston) asks to die, showing she's more than the tough career woman out for herself. In this same episode, sharing computers results in a HIPPA violation when DiDi's (Niecy Nash) Xmas card entry contains the image of someone's vulva from Dr. James' studies. They then have to locate whose it is and issue a formal apology.
The season closes with a great episode and cliffhanger into the next season. It turns out the high turnover of patients at the hospice has caught the attention of Medicaid, causing the government to investigate the hospital because of the concern it has become a death mill. The show's main foursome could possibly lose their careers due to their involvement, and they do a great balancing act working together and looking out for themselves as individuals.
It's unfortunate the seasons run so short because in addition to excelling at exploring awkward office situations for great laughs, 'Getting On' is a great acting showcase, especially for actresses. Not only the brilliant main cast, but also there are many supporting roles where the performances are memorable. Ann Guilbert plays Birdy Lamb, a resident of the hospital who causes all types of mischief. Betty Buckley plays Dottie Levy, a chronic alcohol who would rather drink than live, and Jean Smart is Arlene Willy-Weller, whose dying mother-in-law hates her. It's good to see that when given the chance, women are just as capable of dealing with dark humor as men are.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
HBO presents Getting On: The Complete Second Season on a one 50GB disc housed in a an ecocase with a slipcase cover. The disc comes boots up directly to the menu screen without any promotional advertisements. An Ultraviolet digital code is included.
The video has been given a 1080p/AVC-MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 1.78:1. Like the first season, the cinematography presents an authentic portrayal of its hospital setting. The fluorescent lighting contributes to the dull look as colors come through in muted hues for the most part. There are bright whites and dark blacks throughout.
Fine texture details can be seen in actors' face and characters' clothing as well as the other objects within the scene. Though many of the locations are shot within small rooms, the depth is well captured. The image is clean for all six episodes with no signs of dirt, damage, or digital artifacts.
The audio is available in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. As with most sitcoms, the soundtrack is comprised mainly of dialogue, and throughout the season, it is consistently clear. Other than instances of shouting, there are very few loud moments, resulting in a narrow dynamic range. There are good but limited moments of hospital ambiance effects, but otherwise, the surrounds have almost nothing to do during an episode, and the same goes for the bass.
If you like quality writing and acting, "Getting On: The Compelte Second Season' is just the prescription. The humor comes from bleak and awkward places, but shows that humor is all around if one knows where to look and if executed by talented writers and actors. Highly recommended.