Sunday, September 30, 2012

Here's Boomer!

The story behind Jack "Boomer" Morrison's nickname, which was inspired by NBC network executives.

Clancy (Helen Hunt) meets Boomer (David Morse).
In "Hello, Goodbye", the finale of season two, recently-widowed Dr. Jack Morrison (David Morse), having just barely managed to qualify for the second year of the residency program at St. Eligius, spends a day on the town with his son, Pete. While out and about, he meets a pretty and charming college student named Clancy Williams (Helen Hunt), who is gathering signatures on a petition for nuclear disarmament. Jack asks, "What is this?", and Clancy replies, "What does it look like, Boomer? It's a petition." They begin a relationship that carries into season three, with a brief re-connection in season four. When Clancy meets the other doctors, she refers to Jack by her pet name for him, "Boomer". The staff picks up on it, and Jack gets referred to as Boomer on and off throughout the rest of the series.

In season three's "My Aim is True", repeat patient Mrs. Hufnagel (Florence Halop) introduces herself to a candidate for the position of Dr. Auschlander's assistant, and gives her the lowdown on what really goes on at St. Eligius. "Sodom and Gomorrah. You name it, the doctors at St. Eligius do it. That bleach-blond, Ehrlich, he used to get his jollies by tying up his ex-wife. There's no shame around here. They've even got a doctor here named 'Boomer'." The implication is that Clancy gave him the nickname because of his prowess in the sack. However, we've seen that she started calling him that before they knew each other in the biblical sense.

There's a behind-the-scenes explanation though, and it turns out "Boomer" is an inside joke. From the DVD commentary for "Cora and Arnie", with producer Mark Tinker and Emmy-winning guest star Doris Roberts:

Tinker: You end up calling him "Dr. Nice Eyes". The network had a real penchant for his character, and they also had a series on the air at the time called Here's Boomer about this little dog, and they would liken their need for the Morrison character to how much they liked the Boomer, you know, they always wanted to get more of the dog in there. So it basically boiled down to, for our purposes, "more Boomer," which is why we nicknamed him "Boomer". I don't know if I told that story exactly right, but that's pretty much the distillation.
Roberts: I did a Boomer show.
Tinker: Did you?
Roberts: And it was hysterical, 'cause the dog got the close-ups first.

In season five's "Nothing Up My Sleeve", the origins of Boomer are mentioned in the show. Jack has recently returned to work after his traumatic sexual assault while doing community service at a prison, and his mind isn't on his work. Drs. Chandler, Wade and Ehrlich (Denzel Washington, Sagan Lewis, Ed Begley, Jr.) are eating in the cafeteria when Dr. Griffin (Bruce Greenwood) approaches.
Chandler: He's spacy, self-doubting...he's inefficient.
Griffin: Who are we talking about?
Wade: Boomer.
Griffin: Who's Boomer?
Wade: Jack Morrison.
Griffin: Why do you call him "Boomer"?
Chandler: I don't remember. Something to do about a dog?
So that's where "Boomer" comes from. Those who know David Morse from his later roles, like detective Michael Tritter on House or the neighbor in Disturbia, might be surprised that he played the sensitive, caring, puppy-dog of a doctor in the role that brought him to prominence.
Boomer the doctor
Boomer the dog
Here's some Boomer, courtesy of YouTube. The show was about a highly intelligent dog who roamed from town to town helping people with their problems, similar to Lassie, or more closely, Benji. The premise may sound awfully familiar to a Canadian like me, who grew up watching reruns of the most recent incarnation of  The Littlest Hobo, which premiered on CTV in 1979.

The opening theme of Here's Boomer, which ran on NBC from 1980 to 1982.

A fan posted an entire episode of Here's Boomer in three parts, recorded off German TV. Enjoy "Boomer and the Bucketeers", featuring guest star Meadowlark Lemon.

Some links for the Here's Boomer fans out there, or those who are simply curious:

2 comments:

  1. Hello. At your earliest convenience, please contact me. I sent a message to what I believe is your Facebook fan page for your music. My blogger profile contains my email address or you can message me on Facebook if that is indeed you. Nice site, by the way.

    Edward Copeland

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your interest! You've inspired me to add a contact page.

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