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‘A Young Doctor’s Notebook’: Hamm, Radcliffe and Saws

If you think you might like an early 20th-century scripted series featuring a big-name actor struggling with drug addiction and performing surgeries with often gruesome results, you can try the celebrated new Cinemax drama, The Knick, starring Clive Owen, directed by Stephen Soderbergh and set in New York.

Or you can tune into the dark Russian-style comedy, A Young Doctor’s Notebook, returning for a second season on Ovation, and get two stars for the price of one. Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm play younger and older versions of the same character, simultaneously.

Better yet — watch both.

“We did it first, we did it first!” Hamm told The Wire during a media tour backing A Young Doctor’s Notebook, which he also executive-produced. “Soderbergh, cribbing on our idea.”

“I watched The Knick,” the actor best known as Don Draper on AMC’s Mad Men continued. “I thought it was fantastic and very interesting and very evocative. They had a little more money to play with than we did.”

The Wire wondered if this is maybe a “moment” for early 1900s medical shows. Hamm graciously said maybe so.

“Part of it is just playing with all those awesome instruments like saws and hooks and eye gougers, ugh,” he said.

But it’s also about visiting a world so different from our own.

“At least in the television medium, it’s an underexplored time, and people don’t have a working knowledge. Maybe the ’60s was that before Mad Men came along and people said, ‘Well, I’ve never thought about that period in American history,’ and then this show came along and kind of redefined it for a lot of people. People don’t know much about what happened at the turn of the century, especially in New York City.”

This season is called A Young Doctor’s Notebook and Other Stories because the first season, which also was four 30-minute episodes, produced by the BBC, used up the original material from Mikhail Bulgakov. The show set records for the Sky Arts channel in the United Kingdom, which commissioned a second go-round.

The writers used the 1917 Russian Revolution as a starting point, and Hamm said that’s another period viewers don’t know much about, except via Doctor Zhivago. This black comedy drama is no Doctor Zhivago.

Hamm was happy to go back to playing the older version of the Young Doctor, trying to steer the Young Doctor away from self destruction.

“Part of the joy of TV is getting to hang out for a little while and play that character for a little while,” he said. “I did Don Draper for eight years; eight seasons basically. And I’m glad it’s over, I’m glad it’s in the rear view in many ways. But it was exciting while it lasted, to be able to do that for that long.”

Mad Men’s final episodes don’t start until 2015. But this tours de force of Hamm and Radcliffe is on Ovation Tuesday nights at 10 p.m.

Arris Revs Up Branding Efforts

More than a year removed from the closing of its acquisition of Motorola Home, Arris is signaling that it’s ready to leave the Motorola brand in its rear view mirror and to have its own name and logo take the pole position.

Last week, the telecom vendor revealed that it would sponsor race car driver Carl Edwards in the No. 19 Toyota Camry for 17 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Arris will also throw in its support for another driver, Daniel Suarez, in a multiyear program, starting with the 2015 NASCAR Nationwide Series, as well as a partial schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

And Arris’s branding connection to the race circuit will go a step further than that. Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), the motorsports company run by the National Football League Hall of Fame coaching great, has teamed with Arris and Carlos Slim Domit’s Escuderia Telmex on a program that will provide “developmental opportunities to deserving Mexican and Latin American candidates in the NASCAR Toyota Series in Mexico and other racing series under the JGR umbrella.”

Arris won’t say how much it’s shelling out for the sponsorships, but noted that the deal came to be through the company’s long-standing business relationship with Telmex and its chairman, Carlos Slim.

“He is a close customer of ours and was aware that we were looking for the right marketing partnership to raise the visibility of our technology and services in Latin America and build our retail brand in the USA,” a company official said. The connection to Gibbs and NASCAR “presented a unique marketing and branding opportunity that aligned with our business goals.”

Per its original agreement with Google, Arris still has more than a year to continue using the Motorola brand on modems and other consumer-facing devices sold at retail. In preparation for a complete break from the Motorola brand, Arris has already begun to sell devices that carry both logos.

Its latest standalone branding effort suggests that it won’t be long before Arris leaves the Motorola brand in the dust.

— Jeff Baumgartner