Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"Returning to St. Eligius: St. Elsewhere 30 Years Later" at Press Play

Parts one and two of Edward Copeland's article with new interviews with several cast members.

Press Play's "Returning to St. Eligius: St. Elsewhere, 30 Years Later" is shaping up to be one of the most comprehensive stories ever compiled about the critically-acclaimed drama, which I think is now as little-regarded in discussion of the greatest television series as it once was by prime-time television audiences. Edward Copeland has interviewed several cast members, writers, producers and guest stars for their experiences and recollections about the series, and the results are a terrific read.

Returning to St. Eligius: St. Elsewhere, 30 Years Later, Part 1 was published on October 26, the 30th anniversary of the show's premiere, and the much longer Returning to St. Eligius: St. Elsewhere, 30 Years Later, Part 2 was published on November 5. Part 3 is still to come.

I am completely geeking out on these articles. Part one mostly covers the first season. Copeland interviewed Joshua Brand, William Daniels, Norman Lloyd, Cynthia Sikes, Terence Knox, David Morse, Ed Begley Jr., Jennifer Savidge, Tom Fontana, Christina Pickles, David Birney, Stephen Furst, and Piper Laurie for the first installment.

Josef Sommer
David Paymer
The first part covers the rocky road involved in producing St. Elsewhere's pilot, which started with Josef Sommer playing Donald Westphall, David Paymer as Wayne Fiscus, and Daniel Auschlander with a Viennese accent. After Bruce Paltrow saw the rushes, he shut down production to retool. In came Ed Flanders, Howie Mandel, a New York-based origin story for Auschlander, a new director and a new cinematographer. The typical clean TV hospital set was scrapped for a more shopworn-looking model at great expense to MTM. The results were a vast improvement.

Interesting to learn--Peter White was originally intended to be killed off after six episodes or so because he was such a screw up. The writers kept finding things for him to do, so he stayed. But there's only so far you can go, and having a rapist character on your TV show is farther than that, so they had to fulfill White's fate and let justice prevail.

There's a lot more goodness in part one to be found in part one, and if you're the kind of person who would have read this far, you'll enjoy it. I'll do a wrap-up of part two later. This three-part series is required reading for St. Elsewhere fans, and part three hasn't even come out yet.

Here's some video from the article...

This is a compilation of all twenty-six actors who appeared in St. Elsewhere's opening credits into one mega-credits.

This is a video essay compiling moments where the business of medicine came to the forefront on St. Elsewhere.

Here's why Piper Laurie was nominated for an Emmy in 1984 for playing stroke victim Fran Singleton.

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