Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Good Vibrations" - The Dramatic Clip Show Episode

That rare creature -- a clip show of heavy drama and quirky comedy.

Ebenezer Wright (Tim Thomerson) wants to get the "feel"
of St. Eligius. Dr. Craig (William Daniels) is dubious.
I had completely forgotten about this episode from my original viewing: season 5, episode 21, "Good Vibrations". A Japanese-owned HMO is buying St. Eligius, and the representative they send, Ebenezer Wright (Tim Thomerson), is a flaky hippie-turned-corporate stooge, one who insists on eschewing the reports and statistics and instead experiencing the emotional aura that has built up in the hospital's fifty years of death, birth, love, heartache, grief, and wackiness. His musings thus set up the introduction of clips from old episodes, recalling classic moments.

I watched this one last night, and after having recently caught two or three Friends clip show episodes, which recount the funniest scenes and most heartwarming moments around various themes, it was really odd to see a show introduce a clip of scenes that were downright bummers. Sure, they were powerful and good, classic moments, but being used to clips interjected for laughs, it's weird to see them interjected for tears. Mark and Ellen Craig identify their son's body after his fatal car accident. Donald has to inform Jack that his wife has just died after falling in the bathtub and hitting her head. Homeless woman Cora (Doris Roberts) tells her mentally challenged homeless companion Arnie (James Coco) that she'll have to have her feet amputated and be put into care, and he'll be left alone. Arnie has a nervous breakdown in the hallway.

The Womb, another Alex Corey original.
These are mixed with moments of mirth and whimsy. Artist Alex Corey constructs a vaginally-inspired sculpture in the lobby. Drs. Ehrlich and Caldwell ponder their relationships to Roberta and Joan, neither realizing the other is referring to their own partner, and simultaneously reaching conclusions to divorce (Ehrlich) and to propose (Caldwell). And there's a highlight reel of Mrs. Hufnagel's greatest lines, concluding with her death, folded up in a malfunctioning hospital bed.

I thought I'd have more to say about it. but I guess I don't. Just odd to see a dramatic series do the clip show formula with dissolves (pixelated, in this case) to classic moments, many of which were very, very sad. Wikipedia's page gives a pretty good outline of the various kinds of clip shows.

To be honest, I went to bed before finishing the episode, so when I watch the rest of it, I'll update this post if there's anything else to say.

Added, July 5, 2012... Okay, actually watched the rest of this one on the weekend. I watched the whole thing this time, and it fits in pretty well with the ongoing stories towards the end of season five, and I enjoyed the selection of greatest hits. I remembered how when I saw that episode for the first time, I had never seen any of the episodes from which the clips were drawn; however, I was familiar with a lot of the events from characters discussing them.

Amnesiac John Doe #6 (Oliver Clark) thinks
he's Mary Richards, but it's not Sue Ann Nivens,
it's Captain Gloria Neal (Betty White).
Here's the full list of flashback clips from "Good Vibrations":
  • Alex Corey's sculpture, "The Womb", is revealed in the lobby, resembling a giant pair of bent, spread legs with a curtained opening in the middle
  • Victor and Bobby discuss their love lives in the stairwell, not realizing the other is talking about their own partner, and simultaneously reaching the conclusions to divorce Roberta (Ehrlich) and propose to Joan (Caldwell)
  • Donald chews out Mr. O'Connor (Dick O'Neill) for beating his son with a baseball bat
  • Donald tells Jack that his wife Nina has just died
  • Elliott and Bobby deal with a man in the cafeteria who thinks he's a vampire
  • Jerry Singleton (Alan Arkin) drives his car into the E.R.
  • A punctured giant Snoopy balloon from a parade is brought into the E.R.
  • Ellen Craig sees her son Steven's body and can't accept that it's him
  • Mr. Entertainment sings "Spinning Wheel" in the elevator
  • Jack dreams of walking the hallways on his way to meeting the late Peter, to the strains of a Jimmy Page-soundalike guitar solo
  • Mrs. Hufnagel's greatest hits, ending with her death, folded up in a hospital bed
  • Cora tells Arnie that she's going to lose her feet to gangrene
  • Arnie has a breakdown in the hallway when he can't find Cora
  • John Doe #6, believing that he's Mary Richards, accosts Captain Gloria Neal (Betty White), thinking she's Sue Ann Nivens
  • Donald tells a resistant Daniel that he needs to do chemo again
  • "The Women" (Eva LaGallienne and Blythe Danner) do a crossword puzzle
  • Old Jewish brothers (Harold Gould and Bill Macy) quarrel before one donates bone marrow to the other
  • Mark headbutts Victor in the O.R.; Victor faints in the O.R.; Victor examines himself while assisting Dr. Barton in the O.R.
  • Donald tells Sister Domenica (Michael Learned) about pulling the plug on his wife after her car accident
  • The surgeons performing Eve Leighton's heart transplant learn of Nina's death when the name of the donor is read
  • Jack unleashes his grief in on-call after Nina's death
  • A pregnant woman (Judith Light) pulls a gun on the surgical team in the O.R. because her husband's vasectomy was botched
  • Santa Claus dies despite Elliott's best resuscitation efforts
  • A woman has her stuffed dead dog in her hospital bed with her
  • Cathy seduces Wayne in the morgue, despite his protests that he's dating Shirley
  • Shirley kills Peter White in the morgue
  • Mark admits that his surgical error killed Mrs. Hufnagel in front of the staff at a mortality conference

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