Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Mrs. Hufnagel Chronicles, Part 5

Dr. Auschlander's new assistant is touring the hospital when she gets the inside scoop from Mrs. Hufnagel.

Mrs. Hufnagel (Florence Halop) warns a new hire
about life at St. Eligius.
At the beginning of season three, Chief of Services Dr. Daniel Auschlander (Norman Lloyd) has his hands full with a rather contentious nurses' strike on top of his ongoing battle with liver cancer. He decides to hire an assistant to help him better manage his duties, and in "My Aim Is True", he has found a suitable candidate, Sandra Eff (Kate Randolph Burns), and gives her the "cook's tour" of the hospital.

I've decided to leave in the scene that establishes the assistant character, who has spent the last five years as an administrator at an upscale hospital in Minnesota whose husband's transfer to Boston left her in need of a job. Auschlander warns her that the pay is lower, the hours are longer, and the neighborhood is "considerably less pastoral." When Dr. Auschlander gets paged, Mrs. Hufnagel (Florence Halop) takes it upon herself to give the new employee the uncensored version of what happens at St. Eligius. The stories she tells--sex in the morgue, Legionnaires' Disease, the rapist stalking the hospital--are all storylines from the first two seasons (plus a few episodes) of St. Elsewhere.

I enjoy the reference to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, the 1962 film starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, about an deranged former child star (Davis) who "cares for" her wheelchair-bound sister (Crawford).

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