Thursday, November 30, 2006

Remembering St Elsewhere

As a new DVD set is released, David Browne in The New York Times reflects on the significance of St Elsewhere.
Once upon a time in network television, hospitals were reassuring places: clean, well-lighted fortresses where one could be comforted by cheery nurses and treated by doctors either grandfatherly...or blandly strapping... These days the TV hospital is anything but a sanctuary. As “ER,” “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy” attest, assaults and bombings are as common as operations, and the staff members are as likely to be dissecting one another’s sex lives as tending to patients.

The missing link between medical shows then and now was “St. Elsewhere,” which ran from 1982 to 1988 on NBC and whose first season will be released on DVD this week. In the series, set in the shabby St. Eligius hospital in a destitute section of Boston, everything was in hectic, chaotic motion. Doctors, nurses and sometimes patients crossed paths or nearly collided in the corridors; files always seemed to be spilling onto floors.

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