did anyone scream at this part because i did

BBC Casualty 30th Anniversary “Too Old For This Shift” REVIEW

CasualTea - Evie watches Casualty with Tea. This review is veeeeeery looooong, but the episode was long so don’t blame me. Good luck to whoever gets all the way through it, and I love conflicting opinions so please disagree with me so we can have healthy discussion.

There are many words I would use to describe the 30th Anniversary episode; intense, unrealistic, dramatic, epic, predictable, anti-climatic, heart-wrenching. As you can see, I have mixed thoughts on the entirety of the episode but I’m going to try to break my reactions down here…

The opening credits were pretty brilliant, the focus was Charlie which is basically why we’re all here. The entire first event with Connie and the car exploding was epic and exciting. Throughout the episode, I thought Connie was actually quite scary, she reminded me of that Horror movie Carrie because she was covered in blood. Did anyone else think this? Especially when she was screaming at the exploding car, or fainting, she just looked really creepy which was cool.

It was heart-felt when the car explodes, but there was a part of me that knew that Grace wasn’t actually in the car, but it worked because Connie was so emotional and in distress. The whole episode is intertwined with Charlie’s celebratory video, showing all the guest characters, that we were so excited about, sharing their congratulations. Although I would have liked to have seen all those past characters actually interact with the current characters, similar to how Fletch did in this episode, the video was sweet and, if I hadn’t known who was going to be guest starring in the episode, it would have been a nice surprise seeing all those old faces on screen.

Speaking of Fletch, I loved seeing him just waltz down the E.D. stairs, stating “If I’m here in 30 years you have permission to shoot me in the head”. He’s a great comic character and I really see him as a strong bridge between the two sister shows, Casualty and Holby City, as he has had such a great impact on both. He’s not like Henrik or Jac when they crossover between shows, because he knows all the staff personally; the way he just starts up a conversation with Caleb like he never left the E.D. was just so nice and warm.

Steph, the stupid woman who ran Connie and Grace off of a cliff, regrets her decision and just as she is calling an ambulance, she gets run over. What? Seriously, what? That’s all I have to say on that as it began the host of unrealistic events. The next event being, How did Connie and Grace end up so far away from the car? Were they thrown? From what we saw in the last episode, I thought the car was going to hit the ground head first, and Connie and Grace were going to be crushed instantly. I just don’t get it. Don’t get me wrong, I love their characters, but for realism’s sake, how are they not dead?

Pam St. Clement guest stars as a patient I don’t remember the name of and, in all purposes, it was pointless other than the funny moments and when she blatantly tells Charlie about his surprise party. The most annoying thing I find about this show is when there is a massive disaster happening and the screen keeps cutting back to boring scenes in the hospital. I don’t really care about this patient’s unborn baby from the 50s, I just want to know where Grace is. Josh Griffiths also returns and I don’t think many people would recognise him without his uniform on; I also didn’t realise that he was such a bad actor. It was nostalgic either way.

This agency nurse that had way too much screen time was also useless; did the writers honestly think that we would want to see a Zoe look-alike over our own beloved characters who we have watched for years? The reference to Zoe was also strange, are they going to bring back Zoe or not, because, if they’re not then I find all these hints to Max still being madly in love with her futile and insignificant.

So, Jacob and the lads have now arrived at the scene of the crash and they seem to just walk down the side of the cliff like it’s no big deal. The drop doesn’t look anywhere as dangerous or massive as the last episode showed us it was. Elle is then the first to be informed what has happened and her and Dylan stay extremely calm which I loved. Although, I thought Elle was in the episode way too much. For me, Elle is still new and I’m still trying to connect with her as a character. Even though her interaction with Jacob, Connie and Dylan were so great to watch, there was just a part of me that wished it was Zoe filling that space, a character who has been in the show for years. It was upsetting not seeing Zoe in the video of congratulations as well, along with Dixie, Lofty, Nick, Louis, the list goes on, but obviously the producers couldn’t get everyone.

The helicopter taking off was pretty intense and hats off to the music! The tiniest bit of background knowledge that we get from one of the helicopter pilots as he talks on the phone to his mum was nowhere near enough to get us feeling sorry for him when he dies. Whilst all the cast and crew interviews were bigging up the episode, getting us worried because there would be “loads of deaths”, they failed to inform us those deaths would only be nameless extras that we don’t give a sh*t about. Even Grace, who came the closest to death in this episode but whose fate is still unknown, isn’t even a main character. Yes, it would be interesting to see how Connie deals with this, but it feels like we haven’t had a good heart-jerking death since Jeff in 2014. Even the massive stunt at the beginning of Series 30, whereby Zoe and Max’s wedding results in an explosive fire, seemed to guarantee a death and yet everyone was fine. They’ve only gone and done it again with the 30th. The amount of time and money they put on advertising the dangerous, bloody, feature length episode, was nowhere near as dangerous or bloody as anyone expected.

The party in the pub for Charlie was full of hilarious moments such as Noel screwing up the cake, and the gang shouting surprise to a random stranger thinking it was Charlie. Then Ethan, Louise, Caleb, Alicia and Noel do a very simple dance for the man himself which isn’t short of mediocre compared to Holby’s flashmob for Digby in June. However, it was still funny and cute.

I suspect that some people are criticising Alicia’s large appearance in this episode, similar to what I said about Elle, which is fair enough but personally I really love the character and feel that she connects to the audience a lot more than some of the other new characters, like Elle and David. Alicia and Ethan’s storyline was very sweet and we finally got an explanation to why Cal calls Ethan “Nibbles”! Some of us have waited 3 years to hear this story and it was so well executed. I do hope that Alicia and Ethan become more than friends as I feel that there is a lot more to Alicia that we haven’t learned yet. However, a massive criticism I have is filed under unrealistic again. How can Alicia and Ethan get trapped under a whole building’s worth of scaffolding and be practically completely fine!? Cal even says it himself that they are “blessed” to not be more injured. I know that some fans, especially me, are already re-writing that storyline in our heads to put Ethan in a more critical condition. The bloody injury to Ethan’s side that fans saw in promo pictures of the episode turns out to be “just cuts”. How boring. I know it sounds sadistic, but we do want these beloved characters to be hurt and to be in danger because that’s what makes good entertainment. We don’t want to watch Iain Dean waltzed out of a helicopter crash like he’s just going shopping. We don’t want to see Connie walking around like she just bumped her head a little. And, we don’t want to see Ethan okay. We want to see Alicia and Caleb desperately trying to save him, and how that impacts them.

Caleb was such an exciting aspect of the 30th, from his emotional video message to Charlie that vocalises what all the staff feel, to his close shave with a piece of helicopter debris. Dylan was also refreshingly calm and his relationship with Elle was cute but, as I’ve said, I didn’t feel the need for some characters to be in the episode as much as they were. Elle could easily have been Zoe, and David could have been Robyn or Rita; characters who we have a history with and, after all, this episode was all about the history of the show.

Re-watching the actual stunt is breath-taking; it looks like a real disaster movie at some points. I hope that all the dead bodies caused by the initial helicopter crash are emphasised in later episodes because otherwise the whole event would have been pointless in the grand scheme of things. As none of the main characters were seriously hurt by the disaster, it makes me think that there was no point in having it other than for visual purposes or for shock factor. Grace could have easily arrived at the hospital in the same critical condition had the helicopter not crashed. There is no point in having a major incident like this one and none of the characters be affected by it.

There’s an incredible scene, which is probably my favourite in the whole episode, where Iain gets out of the helicopter. I know I made fun out of how unrealistic it is that Iain even survives but the music, the slow motion, the direction were all outstanding. I also loved how Josh, a fellow paramedic, is the first to help Iain, and fans are speculating that Iain will suffer some form of PTSD after this which I am excited about. I really hope they don’t gloss over this for Iain. Michael Stevenson should be applauded for his performance here; some fans have likened the sequence to a war flashback as Iain would be familiar with that scene. Iain continues to try and convince Jez that he is fine (like I said with Alicia and Ethan, Iain really should have been in a more critical condition if the writers wanted a more realistic and dramatic impact), and this leads to what looks like a growing romance with Lily. Even though Iain only just left his relationship with Rita and stated recently that he will be taking a break from dating, I do hope that he and Lily get together because they’re chemistry was so great to watch in this episode. Lily is not afraid to boss Iain around, and Iain is not afraid to open up to Lily.

Regarding the actual crash, the fact that I knew what was going to happen made it anti-climatic but I couldn’t really avoid the spoilers as it’s what I do here on this blog. I can try and claim that the producers should have kept the helicopter and drone collision a secret the whole time, (they first gave the impression that they wouldn’t be talking about the stunt at all), but I know the closer they get to the air date, the harder the spoilers are to keep from press like DigitalSpy. I’m sure, for viewers who didn’t see the crash coming at all, it was epic, but adding it to the fact that no one died, anticlimactic is the word that comes to mind for me.

Another simple and yet intense moment was when Jacob is forced to list out all of Grace’s details and injuries to Connie. Something that the characters and we, as an audience, hear all the time when new patients come into the hospital, is suddenly weighted with so much tension, emotion and drama and it worked so well. Jacob and Connie’s relationship is tested to the maximum during this scene. Jacob must tell Connie, the person he loves, that her daughter is in a grave position, and I don’t think the two of them will get over that without a therapy session.

The idea that the young teenager responsible for bringing down the helicopter with his drone just so happens to be spotted having an asthma attack by that useless agency nurse just outside the hospital, was stupid and is being added to my list of unrealistic things. It was also obvious that the nurse was only stopping for the boy because she wanted to feel better about herself, so even the confrontation between her and Louise was empty.

Jac Naylor then enters the scene and although Hanssen’s appearance here was good, Jac really stole the show. The look of indifference at the helicopter wreckage doesn’t move a bone in that woman’s face and it’s brilliant. Along with Dylan and Elle, she really calms the hysteric aftermath and then leaves swiftly like it was just another day; the most perfect, bluntness to her character shines through to the audience.

Then we have this incredibly silly scene where Jacob tries to blame all of his problems on a kid with a weird hair cut, and the team try and deter him from hurting the kid. How screwed up does Jacob have to be that he gets violent with a boy and it takes 5 people to try and stop him from winding up? Charles Venn raved about how he gets to do most of his own stunts in this episode, but the only stunts that I can see is where he pins some kid up against the wall and lifts a big chunk of metal off of the helicopter. I don’t know if he should be raving about them too much.

Although, I do feel bad for Charles Venn having to act against Derek Thompson. The scene on the stairs where Charlie blocks Jacob’s way was so stupid and it gets worse when Duffy and Josh join him. They are just not very good actors and so the whole thing was laughable. The dialogue isn’t too bad and I’m sure everyone enjoyed watching Jacob get told that he’s got a massive ego. The point I think that we need to take away from that scene is that Charlie has always been there from the start keeping people calm and keeping people together and that’s nostalgic and beautiful. The only reason I didn’t laugh out loud at the situation was the heart-breaking music. Again, hats off to the music which was the unseen star of the 30th.

After a sweet scene between Iain and Lily where they bond, hold hands and Iain confirms the unrealistic event by saying that he’s “just lucky”, we have a really great sequence with everyone around the reception area. Funny ideas are shared as Dylan states how perverse it is that “the only way to clear the department is with a catastrophic helicopter crash” and then Charlie continues the comedy stating that he didn’t realise they had so many seats in the waiting area. It was moments like this that really kept my attention. After the constant back and forth attitude the writers were becoming regarding Connie and Grace’s condition, the characters were no longer important to me. I started to not care whether the two of them lived or died because the writers kept the drama going for too long that it got dull in the end.

Charlie does redeem himself with a speech to his staff where everyone appears to be uplifted and decide to stay until they know that Connie and Grace are safe. When we find out that Grace has a low chance of survival, the news doesn’t hit me as hard as if it were one of the more beloved characters. Yes, this impact is going to affect Connie and Jacob and probably the rest of the team greatly but, as I said, we want to see the characters that we love put in a vulnerable position, not the daughter of one of the characters. I’m not being funny, but the trailer for Holby City this week looks more exciting than Casualty’s as it looks like Fletch will be put in danger; a character who we have known and loved for years will grip us a lot more than Grace. That’s just the way it is.

When it comes to the end, Duffy pecking Charlie on the cheek along with a “Happy Anniversary Charlie”, I understand why they didn’t cause any main character deaths in the 30th as they may have wanted it be a happy occasion, which I’m sure that some fans would really appreciate. It just feels like the show, over the past few years, have tried to avoid killing anyone. Even the epic E.D. fire in 2011 resulted in everyone making it out alive and that pretty much destroyed the entire hospital. With the exception of Jeff in 2013, the show haven’t made any big character deaths in years, including the highly anticipated Zoe/Max wedding explosion which played with the idea of Charlie being killed off but still edged around it somehow. Do the writers not know that killing off loved characters makes a great show?

In all honesty, for me there hasn’t been an episode which has outshined “Born Lucky” (Jeff’s exit) since, because that was the episode that put so many major characters in dangerous conditions medically and took a massive risk in killing one of the longest running and most loved paramedics. Even though I was distraught at Jeff’s death, I loved the episode. The audience wants a massive surprise. The audience wants to feel their heart-break as the characters and relationships they love fall apart. “Born Lucky” was the episode that inspired me to make this blog because it made such a big impact on me and, although the visual stunts in the 30th were so much better, it was anticlimactic in my opinion. What are the producers afraid of? Do they not want to take a risk?

The producers have been working on and hyping up this anniversary episode for years and so now it does feel like I’ve been let down. I understand that so many fans, especially online, were blown away by it, and, as I’ve said, I enjoyed a host of different aspects from the episode. I just love criticising TV and discussing criticising opinions. I will be re-watching this episode many times in the future for it’s epic moments but for now I will leave you with HOW IS NO ONE DEAD?

Thanks for reading!