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NBC series 'St. Elsewhere,' 80s forgotten masterpiece that paved the way for today's peak TV

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Dan C, Sep 11, 2020.

  1. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Location:
    Central PA
    I think Homicide was eclipsed, critically and profile-wise, by the creator's next project, The Wire. But since it did not achieve the mainstream awareness outside of the actual connoisseurs of scripted series, it actually diminished the memory of Homicide itself. While an NBC series could be considered "mainstream" a prestige HBO project with no real "hook" (because the characters and settings changed every season), it was harder for an uninitiated viewer to easily understand what it was.

    I'm not even saying it's a "fair" description - obvious everybody knows HBO, and "The Wire" is not really an "unknown"...but, take into account what a person without HBO, or an interest in the politics of Baltimore, journalism, local civics, the drug trade, or the city's legal infrastructure, let alone the changing focus from season-to-season, and how that would be seen by somebody who can watch Leslie Knope for six seasons in a row, and at least count on the same scenery and characters...and you see my point, from an outsider's perspective.
     
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  2. colinu

    colinu I'm not lazy, I'm energy saving!

    A snippet that briefly comes to mind is a segment with a boy with cancer who is entering puberty. He mistakes a sign of his body maturing for a return of cancer. Dr. Auschlander gives him welcome information.

    As for Homicide, I recall a PBS show that detailed an episode of the series involving a man who was struck by a subway train. Need to see that again.
     
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  3. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer Thread Starter

    Location:
    The West
    Thanks for the tip! I'm watching part one of "Time Heals" from Season 4. I don't think I've seen these two-part episodes since they originally aired in 1985, but I never forgot them. They skip through the eras of St. Eligius, shooting each era with a completely different production design and look from B&W to 80s color. Such ambitious episodes, incredible storytelling and excellent production for the era. It really stuck with me since the day I saw it.

    It's unfortunately too apparent when music is replaced for copyright reasons in a number of episodes. It's not too often but it's distracting.

    dan c
     
  4. jimac51

    jimac51 A mythical beast.

    Location:
    Allentown,pa.
    Tom Fontana involvement on both. Even if it seems to be a miss,if you see Fontana's name on the credits,stop and watch. Bruce Paltrow,Brand & Falsey, Mark Tinker,Beth Hilshafer- many boomers and a few born in 1951,a special year for this old fart. The show was filled with references to TV-just imagine the arc involving Steve Allen,Jayne Meadows,Louis Nye, Bill Dana,Tom Poston-most of the original Steve Allen Tonight Show gang-playing the parents of the young doctors,a nod of passing the torch. The penultimate episode was titled The Abby Singer Show,an inside MTM joke as Singer was the long standing MTM producer,known for announcing to the cast & crew the second -to- last shot before a break-hence "the Abby Singer" shot.
    Sad the St. Elsewhere fared so poorly during its time and after. At least NYPD Blue,another MTM production had Shout Factory put the rest of the series on DVD. Unfortunately,Shout doesn't caption-I guess that is one reason they are called Shout. St. Elsewhere needs the DVD treatment to catch all the hidden stuff-the pages,the puns,the Easter eggs,for repeated viewings. It will never happen,especially with Disney evidently owning it now.
    Looking at the Imdb cast/crew for the second episode-Denzel Washington.Tim Robbins,Norman Lloyd,Loraine Newman,Jack Bannon(another good guy actor who had his time on St. Elsewhere go from mils manner to monster),Terrence Knox(another hero- to- monster character),William Daniels,Howie Mandel and Ed Begley Jr. The. Second. Episode.
     
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  5. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fountain Inn, SC
    And as I recall, so is William Daniels.
     
  6. SteelyNJ

    SteelyNJ Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Jersey, USA
    “...the theme was released in two different versions: the original TV mix and edit appeared on TVT Records' compilation Television's Greatest Hits, Vol. 3: 70s & 80s, and Grusin recorded a full-length version for inclusion on his Night Lines album, released in 1983.”

    The above is from Wikipedia. I commented earlier that Grusin’s version on Night-Lines is (in my opinion) inferior to the TV version but I wasn’t aware that the TV mix had been released on one of the Television’s Greatest Hits compilations.
     
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  7. SmallDarkCloud

    SmallDarkCloud Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    I think that's the episode with Vincent D'Onofrio as the commuter. He's crushed between the train and the platform, alert but only has an hour to live. It's a very philosophical, very moving episode where the police have to solve the case as soon as they possibly can, and D'Onofrio's character, talking with Detective Pembleton, has to come to terms with his upcoming death. It's a fine episode.
     
  8. mrjinks

    mrjinks Optimistically Challenged

    Location:
    Boise, ID.
    Yes. “The Subway”.

    And this is the PBS episode:
    Subway (Homicide: Life on the Street) - Wikipedia
     
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  9. Kyle B

    Kyle B Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    St Elsewhere was the first quality drama series that I fell in love with as a teenager. It had everything - drama, humor, great acting, inside jokes. The two-part episode where they go back and forth in time showing the early days of the hospital and the origin stories of the characters is a classic. They’d take other interesting risks as well, such as an episode where Rosemary DeCamp plays an old woman who lives across from the hospital and observes the action going on, and the whole episode is seen through her eyes.

    The ensemble was huge and changed from year to year, so there were always fresh characters to liven things up. I even liked the sixth season, when an HMO took over the hospital. Tom Fontana had left the series, so it was not considered as good, but I liked the concept.

    I would love to see it restored. I’d definitely buy it.
     
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  10. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer Thread Starter

    Location:
    The West
    I had pretty much the same experience as you, as I mentioned in my first post. This show changed how I saw and what I expected from television.

    Early this morning I watched part 1 and 2 of "Time Heals," the episode you mentioned. Unlike a lot of TV I loved decades ago and revisit years later, this one lived up in every way to my memory. It's just sooooo friggin brilliant. The production, the writing, the acting, the story arc. They used the hospital's 50th anniversary to hop around eras, introducing us to different characters through the decades and weaving together the deep emotional ties to the hospital. Edward Herrmann was superb as Father John McCabe.

    It was so expertly done. There are a few leaps of logic you just have to ignore, like the 40+-something actors playing their 20-something selves as residents, the fact that the building was already some 30 years old when it was supposedly built from scratch by McCabe in 1934, etc. But it's still such a compelling and emotional television creation. The final scene of part 2, where Dr. Westphall tosses a snowball across the street, just as he did as a little boy at Father McCabe's urging, put a solid lump in my throat.

    BTW, there's also a throwaway scene that barely last seconds when Dr. Craig is returning to take the head of surgery job and he complains about the "lousy old clocks" in the halls. It's a reference to the pilot episode, when Dr. Craig was bragging that he just got the lousy old clocks replaced. I love stuff like that.

    dan c
     
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  11. jimac51

    jimac51 A mythical beast.

    Location:
    Allentown,pa.
    Grusin also has a live version on GRP Live In Session
     
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  12. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer Thread Starter

    Location:
    The West
    The stereo version from the final season sounds so good. I wonder if it was a new recording or if they just remixed it. I agree, the album version doesn't have the magic.

    Speaking of stereo, only season 6 was mixed in stereo. That seems a little late. I recall some shows being produced in stereo in the early 80s in anticipation for stereo broadcasting. Curious why not St. Elsewhere, and I wonder if that was the case with other MTM shows.

    dan c
     
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  13. boyjohn

    boyjohn Forum Resident

    Such a fantastic show. So many memorable moments. And really great acting throughout by the whole cast.
     
  14. sixtiesstereo

    sixtiesstereo Senior Member

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I posted the Season 6 stereo theme on the first page of the thread. It really does sound great.....
     
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  15. sixtiesstereo

    sixtiesstereo Senior Member

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I've often wondered if the reason it wasn't in reruns is partially because of the final
    episode.
    Having the entire six seasons being revealed as in the autistic son's
    imagination and his looking at the snowglobe may have turned off people from watching it in
    reruns. People don't usually like being told it was "all a dream"
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
  16. mrjinks

    mrjinks Optimistically Challenged

    Location:
    Boise, ID.
    Who would have ever believed Howie Mandel was tolerable once?
     
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  17. sixtiesstereo

    sixtiesstereo Senior Member

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    I had forgotten about the Season Three finale, and that they did a crossover with "Cheers".
    It's not really funny, but it IS fascinating if you were/are a fan of "St. Elsewhere"...
     
  18. sixtiesstereo

    sixtiesstereo Senior Member

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Also, does anyone else can't help thinking of "Knight Rider" every time William Daniels
    speaks on the show. He of course was the voice for Kitt (the car) on the show.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
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  19. Kyle B

    Kyle B Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago
    Yes - Herrmann was amazing. McCabe was one of his best roles, if not the best.

    I love where we find out that Mark Craig’s mentor, David Domedion, treated Craig the same way that Craig treats Ehrlich.
     
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  20. FredV

    FredV Forum Resident

    With the cast of St. Elsewhere.

     
  21. Jim N.

    Jim N. Get off my lawn, punk, or hear my Mossberg sing!

    Location:
    So Cal
    My favorite series PERIOD. I shared an elevator in a medical building with Barbara Whinnery (Dr Kathy Martin) while she was sheparding a multi-ethnic brood of children. I just smiled and nodded to her. I used to work for a hospital that got a lot of the industry people, from the big to the ordinary. The big were obvious but there were so many character actors that were far more interesting in person. We were not supposed to bother or recognize them but some were just chatty as all get-out.

    "Mount St Elsewhere" was a term used in the hilarious book "The House of God" (by Samuel Shem), a fictionalized version of his internship in which the Fat Man (a resident) gave them advice. One bit was to find anyway possible to "turf them" (get rid of a patient) to "Mount St Elsewhere" (any other hospital). Great book that was made into a truly lousy movie despite a decent cast. When I first head of the series I thought it might have been based upon that book.

    The House of God - Wikipedia


    WARNING-SPOILERS FOLLOW.


    Back to St Elsewhere, the death of Ralph the Birdman actually upset me.

    Who could not be touched by the scene where Dr Mark Craig is holding his late son's heart in his hands and and starts off making clinical observations and then recites "Green Eggs and Ham" and starts to weep.

    Mrs. Hufnagel was one of the funniest characters ever and even her demise was funny.

    "And my best friend, my doctor, won't even tell me what it is I got"

    "Ehrlich, you're a pig".

    Dr Craig's wife insisting that Dr Ehrlich perform her gynecological exam.

    The interplay between Dr's Westphal, Auschlander and Craig.

    Way too many moments to list here.

    St Elsewhere, Hill Street Blues & Cheers- NBC was awesome in the 80's.
     
  22. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    Terrific series. A mix of MASH and Hill Street Blues. Never keen on what they did with Peter White.
     
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  23. bmasters9

    bmasters9 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Fountain Inn, SC
    And here's a screencap of the sixth-and-final-season opening, w/NBC's In Stereo caption and today's peacock.

    [​IMG]
     
  24. jimac51

    jimac51 A mythical beast.

    Location:
    Allentown,pa.
    Reasons?
     
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  25. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    I liked the character.
     

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