Thursday, October 24, 2019

"Rain"

Description: Morrison regrets making an unheard-of house call when the caller guilts him into repeat visits. White's relationship with his wife is strained when their daughter is admitted to ER after swallowing mothballs. Fiscus has an encounter with another gang member in the ER. Ralph starts eating garbage. Aspiring surgeon Ehrlich lands in trouble with Craig after injuring a finger playing handball.

"Rain" is the 9th episode of season 1 of St. Elsewhere.
Originally aired January 4, 1983.
Teleplay by Tom Fontana
Story by Joshua Brand & John Falsey and Tom Fontana
Directed by Victor Hsu


Recap:

It's a rainy morning in Boston. Nurse Helen Rosenthal (Christina Pickles) is giving instructions to a candy striper. There's a bucket on the floor, catching water from a leak in the ceiling. There's a leak at the nurses' station as well. Dr. Wendy Armstrong (Kim Miyori) left the window of her car open, and "the back seat looks like Niagara Falls." Dr. Donald Westphall (Ed Flanders) reports that the patient he just saw had been thrown off a freeway overpass, and she claimed someone was coming to finish the job.

Dr. Craig is not happy about Dr. Ehrlich's handball injury.
Dr. Mark Craig (William Daniels) is leading a group of doctors on rounds. Dr. Victor Ehrlich (Ed Begley, Jr.) catches up with them in the stairwell, fifteen minutes late. Ehrlich has a splint on his hand. He sprained a pinky finger playing handball that morning. Craig examines his hand, and tells Ehrlich that he wants to see him in his office at 10 o'clock. Dr. Jack Morrison (David Morse) is also in the stairwell, and he encounters his friend Dr. Peter White (Terence Knox), sitting on the stairs with a letter in his hand. He's behind on his student loan payments, and faces legal action.

In the E.R., Nurse Shirley Daniels (Ellen Bry) is on the phone, explaining to someone that their doctors do not make house calls. Shirley asks Jack to speak to the man, who has been tying up the phone line for twenty minutes. Jack asks Dr. Wayne Fiscus (Howie Mandel) to cover for him while he makes the house call. Wayne says that "house calls are obsolete, like rotary engines. Not only that, they're impractical, time-consuming, and you're liable to get a parking ticket." Jack tells the man he's on his way, and asks Wayne and Shirley if one of them has an umbrella.

Jack arrives at the apartment. A Mr. Lukovic (George Morfogen) answers the door, annoyed that it took Jack so long to arrive. Jack examines a mute woman lying in bed with abdominal pain. He explains that Lukovic should have brought her to the hospital, where they have the equipment to do a proper diagnosis. Jack spots an empty glass of homemade eggnog next to the bed, and suspects food poisoning. He gives Lukovic a prescription to fill, but Lukovic doesn't understand why Jack didn't have anything to give her. Jack explains that there are too many drugs to bring along. Lukovic insists on paying Jack, and gives him a $20 bill.

In Dr. Craig's office, Craig tells Ehrlich that if he wants to be a surgeon, it takes a higher order of discipline, commitment, and self-sacrifice. A surgeon's most important tool, after his mind, is his hands, explains Mark, as he stands next to the plaster cast of his hands he received for winning the Cushing Left Anterior Descending Artery award. You can study for years, and one little mistake, like going for a killer in a handball game, and it's over. He leaves Ehrlich with wisdom from his mentor, former Chief of Surgery Dr. David Domedion: "When you go into O.R., wash your hands. When you're coming out, watch your hands."

Rosenthal rushes towards a patient's room, from which screaming noises can be heard. It's Rockin' Ralph (Richard Marcus), squatting on a dresser in another patient's room, flapping his arms and squawking, and ignoring Rosenthal's orders.

Wayne and Victor are chatting in the hallway, dodging drips from the ceiling. Wayne shows Victor a set of x-rays, and stops to help a lost patient while Victor steps on the elevator. The doors begin to close, and Victor absentmindedly sticks his injured hand between them to stop them from closing.

On his way to the E.R., Wayne chats with Peter about the aftermath from his recent mugging. The thieves have charged $6,000 on Wayne's credit card, and now when he works he worries about being victimized again. As Peter treats a patient, he compares the theft Wayne experienced with being ripped off by oil sheiks and student loan administrators. Wayne's thieves have started using his driver's license as fake identification.

Dr. Jack Morrison agrees to another house call.
Meanwhile, Jack is once again on the telephone with Mr. Lukovic. He wants another house call, and he tells Jack there's a baby who can't breathe. Jack says he'll be there in a half an hour, when his shift is over.

In his office, psychiatrist Dr. Hugh Beale (G.W. Bailey) tells Ralph that Mrs. Petcher, the woman whose room Ralph invaded, has made a formal complaint to Westphall. Ralph admits he's been having a hard time since Jane left, but he feels he's had a breakthrough: he wants to get out of his head and turn his focus outwards. Beale asks him why he was quacking in Mrs. Petcher's room. Ralph says it was time to herald his revelation to the world, and takes a bite out of his empty coffee cup.

In the locker room, Jack is preparing to make his second house call. Wayne tells him he's got a Good Samaritan complex, and that if he's going to be putting himself at risk, he ought to buy a gun, like Wayne did. Out in the hallway, Ehrlich is walking with Dr. Philip Chandler (Denzel Washington) when Chandler bumps into a staffer. The man drops a tray, resulting in broken glass and spilled medical supplies on the floor. Phil asks Victor to help, and Victor promptly refuses, citing Craig's dictum that he be careful with his hands. Jack passes by Dr. Wade (Sagan Lewis), whose cowboy-hat-wearing patient (Billy Ray Sharkey) insists on having a male doctor treat him. He's got blood in his semen.

This latest house call involves a child who likely has asthma. Jack is impressed that Mr. Lukovic can speak Arabic. Lukovic explains that he used to run a butcher shop, where he had to speak to the customers in their language. Under pressure from the competition from grocery stores, he sold his shop and retired early. His wife passed away and now he's restless and wants to care for his friends. Jack says it's better to take them to the hospital, but Lukovic once had to wait four hours with a broken nose in an E.R. where no one cared about him.

In the E.R., Wayne's next patient is a Mr. Murray (Ray Liotta). He's wearing a jacket from the same gang, the Irish Scorpions, as the people who assaulted him. When Wayne asks Murray how he got the gash on the back of his shoulder and Wayne doubts his answer, Murray yells at him and tells him to get to work. Luther (Eric Laneuville) calls for Wayne, and when he steps away, Luther tells him about the guy's affiliation. Wayne tells Luther to get security. Back behind the curtain, Wayne asks Murray to lie down, but Murray is impatient.

"Just relax, Mr. Murray, you're gonna be here for a while. I, I've got to soak the wound in betadine, and then I'm gonna, uh, give you some local anesthesia."

"No, no, no, wait, wait, you ain't gonna put me to sleep."

"Just your back in order to infiltrate the skin and reach the subcutaneous tissue around the area of the wound."

"Will you speak English?"

"I will if you will."

"You know something, you're a jerk."

"Well, actually, I'm Lithuanian."

"I ain't got time to waste with you, pal, so you just hurry up!"

"One mustn't rush the healing process, Mr. Murray, I'm liable to make a mistake and leave you, uh, permanently disfigured." (Apparently, Wayne hasn't learned his lesson about watching his tongue when treating gang members.)

Wayne chases an Irish gang member through the halls.
When Murray tries to leave, Wayne draws his pistol. He tells Murray to slowly put his knife on the gurney, but Murray shoves him, and takes off running. Wayne chases him through the halls, where Murray knocks over a few people and a cart. He spots a window at the end of a hallway, crashes through it, and runs away.

At 1:37 PM in Westphall's office, Donald is angry with Fiscus, and threatens suspension. Wayne cites the three attacks on Cathy Martin and the one on Wendy Armstrong, but Westphall (echoing Nurse Louise in the previous episode) tells him that it doesn't matter: it is not permissible to carry a gun in the hospital under any circumstances. Fiscus is angry, but Westphall reminds him: Murray wasn't the guy who assaulted him, and as the patient, he's entitled to medical care. And if Westphall catches Wayne with the gun again, that's the end of his residency. Wayne empties the gun's bullets on to Westphall's desk and leaves.

In the cafeteria, Dr. Wade is telling Dr. Ehrlich about the "genuine cowboy" from Lubbock, Texas that she treated, who now says that in the future, he'll insist on being treated by a woman doctor. Ehrlich suggests she must have handled him very gently. Ehrlich avoids handling a hot plate, and tells Jackie that Craig has demanded that he, as an aspiring surgeon, must stop playing handball. Jackie, similarly, was told the she should give up her carpentry hobby if she wants to be a surgeon.

Also in the cafeteria, the hospital's dietician (Barbara Perry) tells Dr. Beale that every time she picks up the tray from Ralph's room, the food hasn't been touched, but the plastic utensils, milk carton, paper cup, and place mat are missing. Beale tells her what's up: Ralph has taken to eating garbage.

The sliding doors to the E.R. open, and in rushes Myra White (Karen Landry), carrying daughter Megan (Candace Cameron) in her arms. She ate some mothballs. Shirley takes Megan from Myra, and Phil asks Myra what kind of mothballs Megan ate. Myra doesn't know. Phil suggests she go with Luther to call a neighbor to find out, as they need to know the type of toxin involved. Peter arrives and wants an NG tube put in her, as there could have been naphthalene in them, but Phil wants to wait. Luther returns with the name of the toxin, and it wasn't naphthalene, so Phil's course of treatment is appropriate. Peter calms down, and tells Myra that Megan will be alright.

Dr. Beale finds Ralph's garbage stash.
Dr. Beale is visiting Ralph's room, and finds Ralph's "compost heap": a stash of garbage in a pillow case. Ralph's new passion is environmentalism, and he's concerned about garbage and pollution. Beale cuts off Ralph's ecological screed to tell him he has to stop eating garbage. Ralph agrees, if Beale thinks that's what's best.

Jack arrives in the E.R. lounge to comfort Myra. Megan has been vomiting, which is a good sign. Megan was home sick, and Myra was tired from cleaning the house, so she took a nap. Megan got into the mothballs while Myra was sleeping. Myra asks Jack to tell Peter to forgive her. Phil arrives with Megan, and she's healthy enough to return home.

Phil enters the on-call room to find Wayne. Wayne went for a "long, therapeutic walk." He confesses that his issue started on September 12, 1968, the day he started high school. His first act of rebellion was to roll a bowling ball down the school's main hallway. Wayne confesses that he has a hard time dealing with authority figures. He only ever wanted to work in emergency medicine, but now he's scared to go back in there. Phil tells him that everyone is scared, and that as a black man, he often has to deal with situations where people hate him just for being who he is, and he has to know that he can handle himself no matter what happens. Wayne calms down, goes to his locker, and takes out his recent purchase. "Want to buy a gun?" he asks Phil.

At home, Jack has cosied up to the fireplace with his wife, Nina (Deborah White), but the phone rings. It's for Jack, and it's Mr. Lukovic. Jack tells him he can't go over there every time someone Lukovic knows has a problem, and that he should take them to a hospital or find a regular G.P. He hangs up the phone.

7:45 PM... So much for holding his ground. Jack has answered the house call. It's a man with a failing heart, and there's nothing Jack can do. Lukovic tells Jack that there's another man who needs attention, but Jack is on call that night and can't visit him. Lukovic goes on a rant about how things were different in the old days, and merchants had more personal relationships with their customers. Who is going to take care of all the shut-ins? "In my time, men became doctors because it was a calling from God. But no, you doctors today, you're spoiled, you're selfish. You might as well be a lawyer or an accountant." Jack gets up to leave, and tells Lukovic not to call him again.

Dr. Craig is in his office, consulting for another doctor, when a frustrated Ehrlich barges in. He appreciates Dr. Craig's guidance and advice, but he's going to continue to play handball and surf. He started going flaky when Craig chastised him, but he doesn't want to carry on that way. He apologizes for interrupting, but he's glad he did, and he leaves. Craig says to his colleague, "What can I tell you? He's from California."

Jack arrives in the E.R. It's been a slow night so far. Jack asks Peter how Megan is doing, and tries to intervene on Myra's behalf, but Peter isn't having it. "I've been calling home in the middle of the afternoon every day for about a year now. And I've been wishing that Myra wouldn't answer the phone. I've been wishing she wasn't even there. I've been wishing this whole thing was just a dream. But it's not. I mean, she does answer the phone, and the next thing I know, we get to arguing. Usually about money. I mean, yesterday, she was upset because there was a sale on sneakers at Jordan Marsh  and I didn't have enough for Megan to get a pair. Well, listen man, I want Megan to have sneakers, too. I can remember when Myra couldn't wait for me to get home at night. And now she can't stand for me to touch her. Ah, just the sound of my voice... We haven't made love since she was pregnant with Timothy."

Shirley interrupts. Mr. Lukovic is on the phone. Jack tells her to tell Lukovic that Jack isn't there.

Peter arrives at home. Myra tells him that Megan's asleep, and there's meatloaf to eat, but Peter ignores her. Fight begins. This time, however, Myra's going to be the one to leave. "For once, you stay and you deal with it."

Back in the E.R., Jack spots Mr. Lukovic, watching through a window while Shirley performs CPR on one of his friends. Jack steps in, and with the defibrillator, they save the man's life. When Jack tells Lukovic that his friend will be alright, Lukovic is anything but grateful.

You'd think Mr. Lukovic would be happy that his friend
isn't dead.
"You bastard!"

"I said he'll be okay."

"He could have died because you didn't come. He went through all this pain just now because of you. Because you didn't come when I called. You selfish, lazy--"

"That's enough. All right? I've heard enough. When am I gonna learn? Every time I stick my neck out, I end up regretting it. Don't you see, if you hadn't brought him in here, he'd be dead now? So don't give me that. About how rotten I am and how this world stinks. It was different in your time. I know it's changing. It's changing too fast. And I know it's terrifying for you. It terrifies me, too. I'm going to be a father. I have to bring my children into this world. I don't want to be left behind any more than you do. But it's not my fault. So don't lay it on my shoulders."

"Okay. I won't call you again."


Trivia for "Rain":
  • This episode contains the first mention of Dr. Craig's mentor, Dr. David Domedion.
  • Dr. Craig lectures Ehrlich about the dangers of a surgeon being careless with his hands. Mark does exactly that in the season four finale, "E.R.".
  • Ray Liotta, who played Murray, would go on to movie stardom. He's probably best known for playing mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.
  • Continuity error: When Wayne is chasing Murray, Murray runs towards a window, in front of which is a statue of St. Eligius. After he crashes through the window and runs away, we see the window from the outside, and there's no statue there, allowing the viewer a clear view of Fiscus in pursuit, gun drawn. 
    • It's possible, however, that Murray knocked over the statue, and they just didn't show it. But given how much they equated "action" with "stuff being knocked over and glass being broken" back in those days (what I call a "Hill Street Blues moment"), I would think they would have shown that. I'd guess it was more a matter of shot composition.
  • Candace Cameron was not credited for her appearance as Megan White.
  • Just my personal opinion here... With all respect to Tom Fontana, who is an excellent writer, this is my least favorite episode of the entire series. That's because Mr. Lukovic is my least favorite character of the entire series, and his story is my least favorite story of the entire series. Also not a fan of Ralph's shrill squawking as he squats by the window. If those characters weren't meant to be sympathetic, mission accomplished.
    • The rest of the episode is really good, actually. I think it's just these two performances that irritate me.
  • To me, the speech that Mr. Lukovic gives Jack about how things used to be different in his day, when people cared about each other, has a very similar feel to the speech that Mr. Popovich (also an Eastern European immigrant) delivers on the Hill Street Blues episode, "The Last White Man on East Ferry Avenue", about how things used to be nicer back in the day: 
    • "When Mary and me were raising up our little ones, this was a nice neighborhood. I could send my daughter Libushka down to the grocery store for milk anytime, day or night. There was this Polish bakery, they made fresh bread every day. You would bring it home still warm from the oven. Now, you go to the supermarket, you pay a dollar-eighty for what? A loaf of chemical garbage. People used to keep up their places. Now, you got the n-----s, and s---s, and gy----s, and there is garbage all over and no one gives a damn about it anymore." etc.
  • There's a lesson we can learn from this episode. If you don't want someone to call you, asking you to help them, don't reinforce the behavior by helping them every time they call you.

Here's "Rain", on DailyMotion:





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
Ellen Bry as Nurse Shirley Daniels
Kim Miyori as Dr. Wendy Armstrong
George Morfogen as Mr. Lukovic
Richard Marcus as Ralph
Deborah White as Nina Morrison
Karen Landry as Myra White

Co-Starring
Ray Liotta as Murray
Eric G. Laneuville as Luther Hawkins
Sagan Lewis as Dr. Wade
Barbara Perry as Dietician
Billy Ray Sharkey as Cowboy
Nora Ekserjan as Dawa's Mother


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