Monday, September 24, 2012

"Bypass"

A recap of episode 2 of season 1, in which Dr. Craig pushes a patient into agreeing to bypass surgery, injured terrorist bomber Andrew Rhinehardt angers the staff, and Mr. McAllister arrives to see his wife, the bombing victim.

Dr. Mark Craig (William Daniels): "I'm going to save you"
We were introduced to Dr. Mark Craig (William Daniels) in a brief scene in the first episode, "Pilot", but we get the full-on force of Dr. Craig in "Bypass", as does Dr. Victor Ehrlich (Ed Begley, Jr.), his much-abused protege. We pick up where the first episode left off, with two people injured in a terrorist bombing in a bank admitted to the hospital--an innocent bystander in a coma, and the bomber himself, who set off the explosion prematurely.

"Bypass" begins with an old TV device where the announcer says, "Tonight, on St. Elsewhere", and they show a selection of shots from the episode to come to whet your appetite for the action ahead. They did this through season two or so, I think. The producers want you to anticipate:
  • A press conference about the bank bombing; the bomber rolls his eyes when brought before his comatose victim, Katherine McAllister, in intensive care
  • Dr. Craig tells a patient that the arteries in his heart are blocked, and assures him, "I'm going to save you" (in a self-aggrandizing tone that's hilarious and awesome); Craig is incensed when Ehrlich doesn't get the consent for the surgery
  • Dr. Beale asks Dr. Samuels to teach him how to swim; Beale pulls them both underwater in a panic
  • Katherine McAllister's husband arrives at the hospital
  • Dr. Morrison asks the bomber why he did it, the bomber says, "you wouldn't understand," Jack grabs the bomber by the throat
"Bypass" is included in the VHS collection, The Very Best of St. Elsewhere. Also in this episode: Victor chokes when Dr. Craig quizzes him during surgery; Dr. White has difficulties with a set of x-rays; Wayne and Cathy's mutual attraction continues, the terrorist bomber's parents arrive to see him. We see more of the doctors' personalities and backgrounds.

Stuff that happens in this episode:

At 3:17 AM, Dr. Jack Morrison (David Morse) finds patient Andrew Rhinehardt (Tim Robbins) writhing in pain. He finds Nurse Skilling (Vivian Bonnell) and reads on Rhinehardt's chart that his medication is a half-hour overdue. Skilling has little sympathy for the man who killed two people with a terrorist bomb and mortally wounded the woman in ICU. Jack tells her he doesn't care if she doesn't like her job, and delivers the medication himself.

Mark winces as a reporter turns the room's attention
away from him.

At 7:51 AM, the residents wait in the hall as rounds are delayed by the press conference tabled by Director of Medicine Dr. Donald Westphall (Ed Flanders) and Chief of Surgery Dr. Mark Craig regarding the bank bombing. Westphall can't answer the reporters' questions about the bomber's motives or possible affiliations, only medical questions, but he can tell them that the victim is Katherine McAllister, a 32-year-old resident of Minneapolis, and she is in serious condition. Dr. Craig corrects Westphall, asserting that her condition was critical, and that "she was practically dead when she got here." When the reporters show interest in Dr. Ben Samuels (David Birney), the E.R. doctor who revived the victim, Samuels senses Mark's irritation at losing the spotlight and wisely throws the attention back to Craig.

Dr. Craig proceeds to praise his surgical team and chastise the media for contributing to St. Eligius's reputation as a second-rate hospital, particularly their use of the derogatory nickname, "St. Elsewhere." Donald quietly leaves the dais. We get a sense of the bigger picture around St. Eligius as Mark seizes the promotional opportunity. "Boston General may have its matinee idols and art gallery walls, but when it comes to bread-and-butter medical care, there isn't a hospital in this state that can beat us. St. Eligius isn't elsewhere. This is the place to be."

"Where are the violins?" mocks rich kid Dr. Philip Chandler
(Denzel Washington).
Back in the hall, we are introduced to Dr. Philip Chandler (Denzel Washington), a conservative black doctor from a wealthy family. Dr. Wayne Fiscus (Howie Mandel) complains about the demanding schedule, 36 hours on, 12 off, every two days. Dr. Wendy Armstrong (Kim Miyori) feels like she doesn't know what she's doing and is killing people. Phil points out that they have backup from the senior residents; Wayne rebuts that they are swamped themselves and don't have the time to help. Phil states, "it's economics." When Dr. Victor Ehrlich complains about the student loan he'll be paying off for twenty years, Chandler mimes a violinist and mocks, "where are the violins?" Ehrlich retorts, "I know it must be rough, Chandler, when your old man puts you through." "Not really," Chandler deadpans. Dr. Westphall arrives and rounds begin.

"Bypass" introduces us to the bedside manner of skilled heart surgeon Dr. Mark Craig, who is pushy, abrasive, and ill-tempered. His patient is Mr. Broadwater (Robert Costanzo), whom he informs that two of his arteries are 90% obstructed. Broadwater responds with disbelief as he’s only 40, and a stern Craig cuts him off. “You’re fat. You smoke. Your father died of a heart attack when he was 42.” He warns him that he could expect a heart attack at any moment, but then gives the good news—Craig can save him with triple bypass surgery. Broadwater reluctantly tells Craig that he’ll cooperate and proceed with the operation.

Dr. Peter White (Terence Knox) is having a rough day.

After rounds, Dr. Peter White (Terence Knox) shows an x-ray of a patient’s chest to Dr. Auschlander (Norman Lloyd). Peter doesn’t know what’s wrong. Auschlander looks at the x-ray, asks White some questions, and tells him to get another PA and lateral. (Whatever those are; some kinds of scans, I gather. There’s a lot of medical jargon tossed around when they discuss patients.) Later, in the cafeteria, Peter gets another consult from Dr. Annie Cavanero (Cynthia Sikes), who suggests he consult the hospital's top radiologist, Dr. Burgess. White's day doesn't get any better in the E.R., where he loses his shit on a man who has been in the States for eight years and doesn't speak English. Later that night, when Peter finally tracks down Burgess, the senior doctor tells him he needs new x-rays with additional views.

Patient and shackled prisoner Andrew Rhinehardt is giving the nurses trouble, having refused food for two days. Rhinehart is sarcastic and rude to Nurse Helen Rosenthal (Christina Pickles), who lays down the law, threatening a feeding tube and restraints. Rhinehardt has also become a headache for Donald, who has been dealing with the FBI about security concerns around the domestic terrorist who still has baby fat on his face. The bomber particularly gets under the skin of sensitive, nice guy Dr. Jack Morrison. Morrison meets Rhinehart's well-dressed parents, who seem like nice people, and can't understand how they spawned such a cynical, sarcastic demon. When Rhinehardt, in a relatively friendly moment, tells Morrison he's all right, an agitated Jack responds that he takes care of him because it's his job, not because he likes it.

Dr. Cathy Martin (Barbary Whinnery) has some issues,
as Dr. Wayne Fiscus (Howie Mandel) is learning.
In the morgue, Wayne consoles a crying Dr. Cathy Martin (Barbara Whinnery), who feels guilty about their impulsive tryst. "You're so good, and I'm so bad...I'm so bad I can't even tell you," she cries. Then her tone shifts from upset to aroused, and she and Wayne are at it again on a morgue slab. Is Cathy crazy, or crazy like a fox?

Later, at a cafeteria table with Phil and Wendy, their eyes lock when Wayne passes her the salt, in the middle of his rant about premature puberty in girls, which he theorizes is due to hormone-enhanced food. "They fatten the cattle with estrogen. Hormones, because it's more economical. It's all economics. Life and death is economics." Wendy grows disenchanted with the hamburger she's eating, and finally complains when Wayne starts theorizing about testicular cancer.

Elsewhere in the cafeteria, Dr. Jack Morrison is eating lunch with Drs. Samuels and Ehrlich. Jack asks Samuels about the condition of Katherine McAllister, on whom he operated. Ben has heard that the terrorist is a piece of work, and when he advises Morrison that there are "two things you don't choose, your parents and your patients," Jack gets upset and leaves the table. Ehrlich is studying, preparing for surgery with Craig. Ben warns him to be sure to know the anatomy of the heart because he heard that Craig once threw a scalpel at a resident who didn't have it down, terrifying Ehrlich even further.

Psychiatrist Dr. Hugh Beale (G.W. Bailey) conducts a therapy session with woman (Laraine Newman, recently of Saturday Night Live) who is crouching on her chair, looking around furtively, and not speaking. "I see we're Tweety today," Dr. Beale begins. "You know, I was hoping that we were going to be Jane today." He unsuccessfully tries to guess what kind of bird she is, but she replicates a bird squawk well enough for him to guess mockingbird (state bird of his home state of Mississippi), prompting her to finally speak. She's suffering from a fear of flying, disastrous for some who thinks she's a bird. Beale admits to her that she's afraid of the water.

Dr. Hugh Beale (G.W. Bailey) learns how to swim.
This prompts him to seek out Dr. Samuels, former collegiate competitive swimmer, to teach him to swim, in preparation for a rafting trip with a new girlfriend. Samuels, sleeping in on-call after an all-night poker game, only agrees to help in order to get the badgering Beale to leave him alone. Their lesson at a local pool is cut short when a nervous Beale, kicking with a paddleboard, panics and grabs Ben, pulling them both underwater twice before Samuels recovers and tows him to safety. Hugh doesn't give up, and finds instruction more suited for his level--swimming lessons for kids.

Stephen McAllister (Jack Bannon), husband of the comatose bombing victim, arrives at Dr. Westphall's office. McAllister, a maritime lawyer, had been doing business in Europe while his wife, a psychologist, was visiting Boston for a conference. The distraught McAllister learns of his wife's condition, and spends the rest of the episode keeping a quiet vigil outside her room.

We meet no-nonsense ward nurse Lucy Papandrao (Jennifer Savidge), who simultaneously helps Victor study the anatomy of the heart, argues on the phone with someone named Randy about supplies, deals with a nurse who's having a problem with a patient, and points Ehrlich toward the surgical staples. Dr. Craig enters and asks Victor if Mr. Broadwater had cleared anesthesiology. When Victor tells Craig that the patient had reconsidered the surgery, Craig blows a gasket. Mark hurries to Broadwater's room and insists that he sign the consent form. Broadwater meekly complies, no match for Craig's will.

Dr. Craig delivers one of his classic surgery headbutts.
In surgery, classical music plays while Dr. Craig performs the Broadwater triple bypass with Ehrlich assisting. Mark expresses his disgust for smoking, and tells how his wife Ellen started smoking 25 years earlier, but he nipped it in the bud. Nurse Louise (Roxanne Reese) rats out Victor for being a smoker. Victor then misreads a flow meter, earning a headbutt from Craig. When Dr. Craig follows the cranial assault by asking Victor to identify the arteries of the heart, Victor is too shaken to answer, earning even more of Craig's disdain.

At 10:11 PM, Jack is on his way home when he approaches a despondent Mr. McAllister in the hallway. There's no consoling the grieving husband. Jack arrives at home and joins a sleeping Nina (Deborah White) in bed. Jack is feeling amorous, and Nina adjourns to the bathroom to freshen up. By the time she looks back, he has fallen asleep. She kisses him, and he jolts awake, asking, "time to go to work?" "Yeah," Nina replies, and the romance resumes.

"And someday, if you're lucky, maybe he'll operate
on you." Mrs. Broadwater is not impressed.
The next day, Victor follows Dr. Craig to Mr. Broadwater's room to check on the patient, who is full of tubes and cannot speak. Broadwater's wife and son are with him, and Mark addresses "young Master Broadwater" while performing his examination. He tells the kid about his son Steven, 8th in his class at medical school, who wants to be a surgeon like his father. "And someday, if you're lucky, maybe he'll operate on you," he says, rubbing the kid's head. After bidding his goodbyes to Mr. and Mrs. Broadwater, he sidles up to the kid and assures him, "your dad's going to be just fine," and then adds, "I'm the only one who could have saved his life," before taking his leave. With Craig in a good mood, Victor seizes the opportunity to re-attempt to answer the question from surgery. He nails it, earning praise from Craig and a huge sigh of relief.

Jack informs Rhinehardt that another resident will be taking over his case. Jack then wheels him to Katherine McAllister's room to show him the woman he injured. Rhinehart rolls his eyes and pouts, and Jack wheels him back into the hall. Jack asks why a child of privilege would do something so terrible, and a smug Rhinehardt says, "you're soft, you're weak...you wouldn't understand." Jack angrily grabs Rhinehardt's face, but regains his composure, lets him go, and replies, "no, I guess I wouldn't."

"You're not going to let those pigs hang me out to dry,
are you?" whines entitled, sociopathic rich kid
terrorist bomber Andrew Rhinehardt (Tim Robbins).
Later, Mr. and Mrs. Rhinehardt (Sandy McPeak, Frances Lee McCain) visit their son. Andrew asks his father for money to pay off the orderlies and nurses for better service. When his parents inform him of the strategies their lawyer has recommended, Andrew gets angry and demands, "you tell that old bastard we want to see some results, right, 'cause I mean if he can't do the job we'll get someone better... I know you can do it... you're not going to let those pigs hang me out to dry, are you?" Mr. Rhinehart, clearly established as the enabler in the family, tells him they'll do everything they can, to which Andrew replies confidently, "I know you will, Dad... you've never let me down before."

At 9:15 PM, Dr. Westphall is in his office, preparing to go home. Jack knocks at the door and asks to chat. Morrison is upset that they have do everything they can to take care of Rhinehardt, who has nothing but contempt for anyone. Jack tells how he couldn't go to law school because he didn't want to have to defend someone who was guilty. He has a hard time separating his feelings from his work. Donald advises Jack that doctors can't choose their patients, and tells him a story about how he fell in love with a patient as a young doctor and suffered for it. Some doctors care too much, others get old and don't care enough. He doesn't really offer any answers, and tells Jack he's going home.

As Donald leaves, he passes Mr. McAllister in the hallway. The episode ends as McAllister drops his cup of coffee on the floor and breaks into tears.

Other stuff from "Bypass":
  • This was the first professional acting job for future Academy Award winner Tim Robbins. In the DVD bonus features, there's an interview with Robbins where he tells how he delayed production by arriving hours late for shooting, the result of his decision to go to a punk music show late the night before. The producers had to really lay down the law with him. He doesn't say in which episode that happened.
  • Mr. Broadwater will turn up again in season four's "The Naked and the Dead" and season six's "Fairytale Theater". He's played by Robert Costanzo, one of those actors whom I've seen in many, many roles over the years. If I were to explain to someone who he is, I'd say he's the actor who played Joey's dad on Friends.
  • The scene in the E.R. where the security guards wrestle with a man and Peter berates a patient is one of those scenes I think of as St. Elsewhere's "Hill Street" moments. Hill Street Blues had lots of moments where spontaneous violence breaks out in the station without preface. Bonus points for exciting early eighties quality television if a window breaks or a gun fires.
  • According to Mark, Ellen gave up smoking 25 years ago--Mark "nipped it in the bud." I'm pretty sure that the very first time we meet Ellen Craig, she smokes a cigarette. She smokes a lot, actually, pretty much through the whole series. I'd have to check again to see if she ever quits.
  • A lot of dutch angles were used in shooting this episode, especially in the surgery scene with Craig and Ehrlich. I don't think they use those much after this.
  • Sandy McPeak was a two-time guest star on Hill Street Blues; in the role I remember, he had an awesome multi-episode guest stint in season two as "Mac" MacAllister, a new friend of Phil Esterhaus's who turns out to be gay and infatuated with him.
  • In the cafeteria, we see Dr. Vijay Kochar (Kavi Raz) sitting at the multicultural table with a brown man in a turban, as Asian doctor, two African doctors and two white doctors. Kochar is adjusting the antennae on a portable television set on which we hear a commercial playing. The voice of the commercial announcer on the TV is Ed Begley, Jr.'s, and you can hear his pitch: "enjoy everybody's favorite, delicious golden brown french fries, and that's not all, if you order right now, you get..." Begley also does voiceovers for the recaps (and precaps) at the beginning of the show.
  • This makes back-to-back episodes where Dr. Jack Morrison delivers a big, dramatic third act speech. In the last scene, I love how Westphall tells him the same thing Samuels does (you can't choose your patients), but coming from Westphall, Jack begrudgingly accepts it.
  • Two scenes where characters behave in ways we don't really see happen again:
    • Donald Westphall--when Helen is grilling him about a patient's diagnosis and he's distracted by the FBI and the terrorist bomber, he gets irritated with her when she complains that he's the doctor and he's supposed to know what's wrong, and trails off, "yeah, yeah, yeah..." We don't really see him get flustered like that after this scene, even when he's dealing with crazy shit.
    • Wayne Fiscus--when he's in the cafeteria, ranting about estrogen in foods, this is the closest we come to seeing zany stand-up comic Howie Mandel in Wayne Fiscus. I would describe Mandel's comic persona back in those days as hyper, to say the least; nowadays, he'd be the poster-child for AD/HD. In the picture I selected below, you can see how his eyes bugged out in this scene. He doesn't get this excitable any other time in the series, I would say.
  • When William Daniels was being courted for the role of Dr. Mark Craig, he was given the scripts for the first three episodes to read, to give him a sense of the ensemble nature of the show (source: IMDB). His role in the pilot only involved two or three scenes, while this episode was a showcase for his character.
Sandy McPeak as Mr. Rhinehardt, enabler extraordinaire.
Howie Mandel as Dr. Wayne Fiscus, at his most excited.

Cast


Starring
Ed Flanders as Dr. Donald Westphall
and
David Birney as Dr. Ben Samuels

Also Starring (in alphabetical order)
G.W. Bailey as Dr. Hugh Beale
Ed Begley, Jr. as Dr. Victor Ehrlich
Terence Knox as Dr. Peter White
Howie Mandel as Dr. Wayne Fiscus
David Morse as Dr. Jack Morrison
Christina Pickles as Nurse Helen Rosenthal
Kavi Raz as Dr. Vijay Kochar
Cynthia Sikes as Dr. Annie Cavanero
Denzel Washington as Dr. Philip Chandler

and Starring
William Daniels as Dr. Mark Craig

Guest Starring
Norman Lloyd as Dr. Daniel Auschlander
Barbara Whinnery as Dr. Cathy Martin
Kim Miyori as Dr. Wendy Armstrong

Laraine Newman as Jane "Tweety" Zontell
Jack Bannon as Stephen McAllister
Frances Lee McCain as Mrs. Reinhardt
Sandy McPeak as Mr. Reinhardt
Deborah White as Nina Morrison
Robert Costanzo as Mr. Broadwater

Co-Starring
Peter Maloney as Dr. Burgess
Tim Robbins as Andrew Rhinehardt
Jennifer Savidge as Nurse Lucy

With
Roxanne Reese as Nurse Louise
Vivian Bonnell as Nurse Skilling
Thomas Babson as Reporter


Credits


Developed by
Mark Tinker
John Masius

Created by
Joshua Brand
John Falsey

Produced by

Written by

Directed by 

Executive Producer

Associate Producer

Theme Music by 

Music Score by
J.A.C. Redford

Director of Photography

Art Director

Edited by

Post-Production Supervisor

Unit Production Manager

First Assistant Director

Second Assistant Director

Executive in Charge of Talent

Casting by

Set Decorator

Men's Costumer

Women's Costumer

Makeup Artist

Hair Stylist

Medical Advisor

Technical Advisor
Tia Dankowski, R.N.

Music Editor

Sound Editor

Titles and Optical Effects
Modern Film Effects

Additional Casting by

Executive in Charge of Production for MTM Productions

Camera and Lenses by Panavision

Color by Deluxe

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