|A scene from season one, the Joshua Brand-John Falsey era.|
Then recently, I got a Google Alert for a similar page on Reddit, where a user asked if the two Joshua Brand-John Falsey creations St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure were worth watching all the way through.
I posted my response on the Reddit page. You might not expect this from the proprietor of a fan site, but I wouldn't recommend the show to everyone. It's really not for everyone's tastes or sensibilities. But if you get it, the show's pretty damn good.
If you're here on this website, odds are you that have watched St. Elsewhere and are looking to have your memory refreshed. So I don't need to preach to the choir. One thing to consider is that it's not easy to even see the show. You can watch it on Channel 4OD in Britain, but not in North America. There are only a few cable channels that show reruns (including iChannel in Canada).
On DVD, you can buy the first season, which I feel to be the weakest and not really representative of what made St. Elsewhere special, but not seasons two through six, where the show takes off. If you're not inclined to buy bootleg DVDs of the complete series, you can't access it.
If you're open to watching television from a bygone era and you like getting hooked on a series with continuing storylines and long-range character development, St. Elsewhere is quite rewarding. If you've got a quirky sense of humor, relatively sophisticated cultural sensibilities, and knowledge of baby boomer culture, there's a lot to like.
|Denzel Washington, Stephen Furst, and Howie Mandel as|
doctors Chandler, Axelrod and Fiscus.
If you like weird or crazy stuff happening, St. Elsewhere has a lot of that:
- A patient dies folded up in a hospital bed ("crushed like a clam")
- A doctor's wife slips in the tub and dies, and her heart ends up in a transplant patient in the hospital
- One of the doctors commits a string of rapes and is murdered by a vigilante
- A doctor gets shot and spends an episode in the afterlife, where he runs into dead characters
- A doctor accidentally kills his mother-in-law by sending her a severed head in the mail and inducing a heart attack
- A doctor's parents, previously thought to be dead, turn out to have been spies captured in the Bay of Pigs invasion
- A male doctor gets raped in a prison riot, and is stalked by the assailant after his release
- A mercy killer stalks the hospital and is never caught
- The whole show turns out to be a fantasy dreamed up by an autistic child who watches a lot of TV
The show celebrated the tragedies and triumphs of life, commented on religion and politics, and explored the challenges and limitations of healthcare. It's as rich as a great novel, and was widely honored for its writing, including two Emmys and a Peabody. And there are a ton of great acting performances from cast and guest stars. Emmy awards for acting were bestowed upon Ed Flanders, James Coco, Doris Roberts, William Daniels and Bonnie Bartlett, and nominations went to Ed Begley, Jr., Christina Pickles, Piper Laurie, Alfre Woodard, Edward Herrmann, Steve Allen, Jayne Meadows and Lainie Kazan.
There are video clips of St. Elsewhere out there if you look for them. You can watch the saga of Mrs. Hufnagel on this playlist as an example of how they made a great story out of a bit part.
I intend to keep more clips, stories, retrospectives and features coming, all to celebrate the many things I've enjoyed while taking in the world of St. Eligius. That's how I'll make my case.