MDA: articles

Shane Bourne, Angie Miliken, Vince Colosimo

Shane Bourne, Angie Miliken and Vince Colosimo.

Justice in life and death

All things must pass. That is one of the blessed things about this business. When, as one of the favoured few, you're asked to watch long, drawn-out television programs of far-reaching import, gain insight, and, hopping on to the soapbox left temporarily vacant by our opinion-editorial writers, pass on those moments of inspirational genius to breath-bated viewers around the world, you come to welcome change.

Oh, you can learn so much from TV. No need to go to medical school or study law - a couple of weeks of A Current Affair or Today Tonight and that's almost your Munchausen's 101. And then there's CSI, Law and Order, Medical Emergency, All Saints, House MD and Dr Phil. The legal and surgical expertise simply oozes through the ether.

Still, although we may be clued-up on the potentials of DNA through television's latest open-uni courses, there's nothing like the exposition provided by the ABC series MDA: Medical Defence Australia. The script is always informative, and never anything but comprehensive.

Tonight's new story, Departure Lounge, lets Vince Colosimo strut his stuff, showing us that as anaesthetist Dr Andrew Morello, he can be far more interesting than he ever was as Claudia Karvan's partner in The Secret Life of Us. To be fair, he does have a few more words to play with this time around. And for TV, it's a stellar cast. MDA at its best provides Aunty with a real case for Making Drama Australian.

Dr Morello is clearly a man living beyond his means. He is stretched. Freshly arrived in Melbourne, he lives in a designer's dream home, is involved in a pricey IVF program with his loving wife, and has no regular hospital or private contract. He's joined the MDA unit as a medical case manager, filling in for Jamie (Angus Grant), who's apparently holidaying in the Whitsundays.

To pay the rent, the dedicated, thoughtful doctor works a casual shift or two at Norwood Hospital while helping out that splendid growler, Happy Henderson (Shane Bourne), and his balancing livewire colleague, Amanda (Angie Milliken), with medical claims.

While creating an unwanted ethical, career-threatening dilemma for Morello, this extra work also produces an intriguing conflict of interest.

The MDA case involves the defence of an elderly anaesthetist charged with a clumsily administered epidural. But after going through an exhausting open-heart surgery on a baby with specialist Rupert Carr (Frank Gallacher), Morello finds himself facing other pivotal decisions.

So does he become a whistleblower? Or, thinking of the future, does he simply let things pass?

By Brian Courtis
August 4, 2005
The Age