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. Wife & I loved it.
    It’s never repeated over here though.
    I remember the surprise when watching the final scene, then days later feeling inexplicably cheated by it as it wasn’t a ‘proper’ ending.
  2. colinu

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

    Speaking of being cheated on, think of poor Emily Hartley (Suzanne Pleshette) on the first Bob Newhart show (another MTM production). While she was sleeping her husband moved to Vermont, had a new wife, and ran an inn - well at least in his dream. ;-)
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  3. Kyle B

    Kyle B Forum Resident


    This is one of my favorite in-jokes from the series.
  4. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
    I wonder if anybody has opinions on how St. Elsewhere's impact affected the creative directions Michael Crichton took developing E.R. for NBC, and David Kelly for CBS, with Chicago Hope. I mean, obviously the networks came to them, and they asked, "what do you want", and they pointed to St. Elegius and said, "well, MORE OF THAT!...just...not 'that'...".

    And, one presumes, the spooky spirit of Dick Wolf came to them in their dreams, and told them..."Put themmm in the ssaaaammme cittyyyyyyyyy.....whoOOOOOOOO...!"
  5. Kyle B

    Kyle B Forum Resident

    And this is another favorite (go to 37:36 - I can’t make the link go to this specific time).

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  6. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    I think too much is made of that last scene. It's only two minutes at the very end of the episode, and as such it's easy enough to ignore and forget about. It shouldn't overshadow the fact that the rest of the final episode is extremely well done, a textbook example of a great finale that ties up the storylines of every character in interesting and sometimes ironic ways. It's kind of the opposite of the Seinfeld finale, which is lousy for two hours and then amusing for the final scene where they are in jail.

    My guess is that the show wasn't successful in syndication for two reasons:
    1. It was never a hit as a first-run show. My recollection is that it rarely got higher than the top thirty, and often was rated much lower than that. NBC kept it on because it was a prestige show and because (as the third-ranked network with few hits) they had nothing to replace it with that would do better.
    2. Shows with ongoing storylines/arcs tend not to do as well in syndication as shows with standalone episodes.
  7. Jim N.

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

    So Cal
    It ran in syndication here in the late 90's / early aughts on KDOC, a small independent station in Orange County. I would love a remastered complete series but given it was in jeopardy of being canceled every season that it aired they probably assume there is not enough demand, that coupled with physical media circling the bowl. I have Season 1 (the only one available IIRC) on DVD but that season really does not represent what the series became. David Birney was the lead and GW Bailey found the greener pastures of the "Police Lobotomy" movie series (and his head literally up a horse's a$$). The heart of the series was the Westphal / Auschlander / Craig troika.

    So it joins WKRP as a great, but apparently lost, series...
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  8. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    I watched St. Elsewhere from my late teen through college years, the show was absolute must see TV for me. While I had also watched and enjoyed Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere connected with me unlike any other shows of that era. As I've been enjoying reading through this thread a number of St. Elsewhere "Brush with Greatness" memories have been coming back.

    One summer while working as a host at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Restaurant Season One star David Birney arrived with his family. I recall asking him if he knew if the show was coming back and he didn't know. After moving to L.A. I found myself filing for unemployment benefits at the Santa Monica office and St. Elsewhere's unforgettably sexy pathology resident Dr. Cathy Martin (Barbara Whinnery) was there. I remember she was frighteningly thin, clearly suffering from anorexia nervosa. I see she is alive and well today, godo do to know she got past that illness. It was also a good lesson for this new Angeleno, just because you had been on a big TV show didn't mean everything was set for life.

    In the late 90's I bought a house in my Studio City neighborhood, very close to the CBS Radford Studio lot where the show had been filmed. None other than Ed Begley Jr. was a neighbor just down the street, along with George Wendt, Norm from Cheers.

    Now it's time to re-watch the show, which my wife didn't see much of back then, it's going to be great!
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  9. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer Thread Starter

    The West
  10. Shoes1916

    Shoes1916 Active Member

    United States
    Absolutely brilliant show; the finale is a heart-wrenching masterpiece.
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  11. Shoes1916

    Shoes1916 Active Member

    United States
    A legend. He worked on two of the greatest series in TV history - Hitchcock being the other.
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  12. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer Thread Starter

    The West
    Naturally there was at least one inside joke about Knight Rider in St. Elsewhere, when a character said in passing he was going downstairs to dig up files on "the Hasselhoff wreck," or something of that nature.

    dan c
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  13. Luvtemps

    Luvtemps Forum Resident

    Great series that launched the career of Denzel Washington.
  14. altaeria

    altaeria Forum Resident

    St. Elsewhere
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