Today in My History
14 May 2020
Hugh Laurie was on Colbert last night. Laurie was House on the show of the same name. I watched it for several years, before I gave up. When I think about all the TV doctors I've seen, if I had an illness, House would probably be the last doctor I would see. He solved impossible cases, but he also put patients through incredible procedures. I think about their bills as he orders this and that test or procedure. And the thing about it is that a patient might come in for a persistent headache, go through weeks of tests, get to the point of near death, and then someone realizes she has excess ear wax and when they clean out her ears, she is cured.
OK, so it's not quite like that, but the shows got to be so formulaic that I got tired of it, though I did love the character of House, a doctor with a drug addiction for chronic pain, with a miserable disposition, who had little good to say to anybody about anything.
As I thought about House, I thought back on all those TV doctors I have watched over the years. I am a sucker for a good medical show. I checked Wikipedia and was amazed to see that there have been 75 of them in the United States since 1951 and a host of medical shows in a whole bunch of other countries as well (an amazing number in South Korea and in Russia).
The first medical shows I became addicted to were Ben Casey and Dr. Kildaire, both of whom ran for 5 years, from 1961 to 1966. Kildaire was a movie, I believe, that moved to television. I remember Ben Casey (Vince Edwards) with Dr. Zorba (Sam Jaffe) starting by drawing symbols and saying "Man, woman, birth, death, infinity."
I wasn't into soap operas when General Hospital started, so I never watched that, though I know people who were addicted to it.
But when Marcus Welby came along, I was hooked. Welby (Robert Young) never seemed to have many patients and he always made house calls. He had an assistant, Steven Kiley (James Brolin) and there were often disagreements between the older doctor and the progressive younger doctor.
According to Wikipedia, Its handling of many varied medical cases – some common, some uncommon – made it an instant hit for ABC. Story lines included impotence, depression, brain damage, breast cancer, mononucleosis, teenage obesity, juvenile diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases, epilepsy, learning disabilities, leukemia, hemophilia, paraplegia, dysautonomia, rape, Alzheimer's Disease and addiction to painkillers, among others. At its second season (1970–1971), it ranked #1 in the Nielsen ratings, becoming the first ABC show to top the list. The same year, both Young and Brolin won Emmy Awards for their work, as did the show for Outstanding Dramatic Series. Young won a Golden Globe in 1972 for his performance. Members of the American Academy of Family Physicians served as technical advisers for the series and reviewed every script for medical accuracy.
Medical accuracy has always been a big deal for me, since I worked in medical offices. I have started watching medical shows that look promising, but if the medical part of it is unbelievabled, I can't bear to watch it.
M*A*S*H wasn't really a medical drama per se, but it is also on my list of medical shows that I became addicted to.
St. Elsewhere was a great show, where Howie Mandel actually had hair and people got to know Mark Harmon before he joined NCIS. The finale of St. Elsewhere was a real cop-out, where we learn that the entire 6 years was all taking place in the imagination of the autistic son of one of the doctors and the show itself was all part of a snow globe.
I watched at Doogie Howser but didn't watch it enough to really know it. I think that came in part of that unbelievable plot line for me. Of course, knowing Neil Patrick Harris now, and how good he is at everything, I could believe that a 14 year old Harris could indeed be an effective doctor, since he does everything so well.
Northern Exposure also wasn't your typical doctor show, but the main character was Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) who was contracted to practice medicine in Alaska for four years as part of his student loan. The show was more about the people in the small town of Cicely, and very little actual medicine, that I recall.
Chicago Hope and ER both started in 1994, with Chicago Hope running six years and ER 9 years. I watched both. Chicago Hope starred Mandy Patinkin in one of the many shows in which he became a big deal and then quit after a year or two (he finally stayed through an entire show with Homeland but there were several other shows -- like Criminal Minds -- where he only lasted a year or two before moving on) Thomas Gibson was also part of the cast, and the two would be reunited again later in Criminal Minds.
George Clooney was another actor who quit a successful show early on, but I enjoyed him in ER. He left the show to pursue a film career, which seems to have worked out for him. The show became NBCs third longest running TV show, after Law & Order and Last & Order SVU.
I watched Nip/Tuck for awhile but didn't really like the doctors and quit.
Grey's Anatomy started in 2005 and is still running. I was a fan for a long time, but the more action took place in closets between men and women the more I lost interest and I haven't seen it in awhile. I did love "Dr. McDreamy" and things were never the same for me after he was killed.
Nurse Jackie was another one of those programs whose medical stuff was unbelievable. Also, it was always billed as a comedy and I found nothing funny about a nurse with a drug addiction.
I learned about "concierge medicine" with Royal Pains, with Dr. Lawson becoming a private doctor to the rich and famous in the Hamptons. That was kind of fun and I enjoyed the entire seven years.
I have the same problem with The Good Doctor as I had with Doogie Howser. At my age, ALL doctors seem like little kids.
Right now I watch Chicago Med, The Resident and New Amsterdam so when the fall season starts, if they have been able to film in spite of the coronavirus, I will be happy to see them all back. I wonder which one is going to have the first pandemic story line.
(oh...and I LOVE Call the Midwife! I'm caught up with the current episodes so I'm watching it over again, from Season 1 and it's amazing how much better it is now, how they have grown into the characters and situations (they don't even deliver babies in the same position as they did in Season 1, when they turned the mother on her side to deliver, a position I can't even imagine!)
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This is entry #7325