Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Adding Photos to Old Posts

It looks like I'm going to be adding images to old posts.
Judging by hair, I'd say this one's from
the first half of season four.

I didn't have screen-capture capabilities when I started this blog, so most of my early posts are just plain text. Since then, I've enjoyed the challenge of finding a good freeze frame to capture. It's also an editorial question to decide which images to represent the post and what to write about them, and I enjoy making those judgments, odd as they can turn out sometimes.

I have recently added images to "Daniel Auschlander's Season-Long Slide" and "'Good Vibrations' -- The Dramatic Clip Show Episode". Adding images is a good fit for me right now. I'm going to be too busy to write a full post for a while. Though I do have some in mind.

Update, August 29, 2012: Images added to "New York Times Article on the VHS Boxed Set", "New York Times Article About the First Ones", and "The St. Elsewhere Time Frame". And this one.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Some Blogger Praise for St. Elsewhere

Haven't done a "link" entry in a while, so here's one from a blogger rating it as their favorite TV drama.

Came across this post on a blog called Pseudo-Intellectualism. Titled "The Best TV Drama: St. Elsewhere", it consists almost entirely of a review from popmatters.com by a Mark Labowskie. It's from 2007, and I've noticed that there's a lot of content about St. Elsewhere from back then that spawned from the release of the first season on DVD, the only official release of the show other than the VHS Very Best of St. Elsewhere collection.

The review credits St. Elsewhere for "inventing the modern medical drama." There's a good explanation of what was innovative about the show, much of which we take for granted now.

Dr. Ben Samuels (David Birney) in on-call with Dr. Vijay
Kochar (Kavi Raz). At least Vijay keeps his job.
Nitpick... Kavi Raz lasts more than one season. He still gets screen time in season two. It's starting with season three where he only appears on a recurring basis. He even pops up in season six.

Re: the bit about David Birney: "Birney was a popular TV star in the late ‘70s/early ‘80s, and may have thought that his lothario character was going to be the de facto leading man; as it turned out, he was outshined by nearly all of the supporting cast and was gradually phased out, to the extent that he barely appears in the last few episodes of the season." According to the biography of David Birney on Yahoo! Movies, he left the show due to "[c]onflicts with the producers [about] the direction and status of his role."

Re: the bit in the comments about David Duchovny as the patient in women's underwear in the E.R. on the first season episode, "Samuels and the Kid": it's not David Duchovny. It's Paul Lieber playing the jail-bound patient. How many of you know someone who always misidentifies actors in TV shows and movies? I'm thinking of the one I know right now. I'm not immune to it myself, I must admit.

Paul Lieber as the guy who made an unfortunate choice in
undergarments.
And just for the heck of it, here are some more links to stuff people out there have written about the show:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Video Collection is Compromised

Just discovered that three of my season-six episodes lost their soundtrack. Life goes on.

Drag...going through my video library, and I discovered that my copies of three episodes from season six, "Weigh In, Way Out", "No Chemo, Sabe?", and "A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking", have lost their soundtrack. This means my St. Elsewhere exploration will be accordingly limited until I can obtain uncompromised copies of those episodes.
Wayne (Howie Mandel) rocks out to "Psycho Killer"
in the morgue with Jackie (Sagan Lewis).

Probably not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but one of the major things I've been watching for is references to earlier storylines, and that's gone for those three episodes. The dialogue is kind of vital to that process. I'm particularly disappointed because "Weigh In, Way Out" earned an Emmy win for Mark Tinker's direction. I watched the three of them without sound the other day while I was doing some work on my laptop, and fortunately, I could recall enough of what happens in "Weigh In, Way Out" to appreciate it.

In the most memorable storyline (for me) in "Weigh In, Way Out", the ninth episode of the sixth and final season, Wayne Fiscus is about to turn thirty years old. After Dr. Gideon chews him out for goofing around in the morgue to the tune of "Psycho Killer", he exacts revenge in super-glue in John Gideon's office, leaving Gideon to discover that the items on his desk -- his pens, pads of paper, drawers, and phone receiver -- have been glued down. When he tries to go for help, he discovers that the door is stuck, too.

The scene is hilarious even without sound. I found I could appreciate why Tinker was recognized with an Emmy even more by just watching what happens.

Dr. Gideon (Ronny Cox) discovers he's been super-glued
by master prankster Wayne Fiscus.
Wayne matures a lot over the course of the series, so it would have been nice to have the dialogue for the scene in the morgue with Jackie where Wayne anxiously muses about the significance of the end of his twenties as the clock ticks down. Wayne hates authority figures, and I recall that at some point he tells a story about how he rolled a bowling ball down the hallway in high school and received a tongue-lashing from the principal, and that Gideon chewing him out reminded him of that, prompting him to indulge in one last act of immaturity before he reached the big 3-0. Or something like that.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Network TV's First Full Moon

St. Elsewhere pushed the limits of nudity on TV with the first shot of bare buttocks on prime time network television.

Episode three of season six, "A Moon for the Misbegotten", which aired September 30, 1987, marks the final appearance of Dr. Donald Westphall as a regular character on St. Elsewhere. (He makes two more appearances during season six; in episode 17, "Their Town", and in the finale, "The Last One".) When season six begins, we learn that after the wrecker's ball struck the front of the hospital, the demolition was stopped due to a last-second offer to purchase St. Eligius from a corporation called Ecumena, and after a month off for renovations, the staff is asked to return to their old jobs. Ecumena puts their own man in charge, Dr. John Gideon (Ronny Cox), and Donald and Daniel (75 and suffering from cancer) are only allowed to continue working in figurehead positions with no real authority.

Mr. Collins from Ecumena (Dennis Patrick) has had enough
of Donald Westphall (and people like him).
Donald's personality and approach to running the hospital are completely out of step with the corporate types and their bottom-line approach to providing health care, and by episode three, after lobbying for an AIDS clinic and pissing off Gideon's boss from head office, Donald is fired. At the end of the day (around 8 PM, according to the screen clocks), Donald meets Gideon in his office, and Gideon offers him one more chance. They can run the hospital together, Gideon says, if Donald would only compromise and "adapt [his] point of view."

Donald tells Gideon that it's an interesting offer. He turns around, we see his back, he appears to be fiddling with something, and he says, "Let me try and tell you in terms I think you can understand." We see Gideon's reaction and hear the sound of pants dropping. The next shot shows Donald standing up, bare from the waist down at a 45-degree angle to the camera, full moon on display for Gideon, but upper body turned so Donald can address him--"you can kiss my ass, pal." Click here for the uncensored shots.