Monday, July 9, 2012

Daniel Auschlander's Season-Long Slide

Possibly my all-time favourite writing stunt on the show--Daniel Auschlander's mind goes back in time over the entire fifth season.


I first heard of this from Robert Thompson's Television's Second Golden Age, in its chapter on St. Elsewhere. There's a discussion of the show's intricacy and consciousness of its own history, with the McAllister revisit as an example. Then Thompson describes "a second example of St. Elsewhere's attention to detail...so deeply embedded in the scripts that virtually nobody noticed." Tom Fontana recalls:
Dr. Daniel Auschlander (Norman Lloyd) finds
his toys are gone.
In the fifth season, we were going through this story where Auschlander was having this mental breakdown--he was kind of getting senile over the course of the season. We wanted to end the season with him in the hospital saying "Where are my toys?," as a baby again. What we did was--Auschlander was seventy-five, so we divided the twenty-three episodes of the season up into three or four year periods. So in episode number one he was talking about things that related to the year it aired--1986. The next week he would talk about things that related to 1983. The next week he would talk about things related to 1980. We'd try to write in such a way so you couldn't tell if he was just remembering it. By the final episode of that season, when he had been reduced to a baby again, if you'd been tracking it you could see him going bit by bit backward in time. We never even told Norman (Lloyd). My point is that only Masius and I knew what we were doing. We never even told Bruce (Paltrow).
Having just concluded watching season five, I've prepared a "breakdown" of Daniel's journey back through the years:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Good Vibrations" Update

Newly added: complete list of flashbacks from the season 5 flashback episode.

I finally watched all of "Good Vibrations", St. Elsewhere's dramatic flashback episode, so I finished the post from last week, or whenever that was. The selection of clips is pretty good, and is especially good as a series refresher. There's an appropriate selection of "Emmy-winning" moments, featuring Ed Flanders, Doris Roberts, James Coco, William Daniels, Bonnie Bartlett, and a clip from season two's "The Women".

I've finished the rest of the season, so when I have time, I've got a few more posts in mind.