Monday, May 12, 2014

Classic TV: St. Elsewhere (1982)

Two of NBC's most popular shows of the 80's share a common city, so you had to figure that somehow, some way, they'd find a way to do a crossover between Cheers & St. Elsewhere.

St. Elsewhere was another ensemble drama from MTM in the mold of Hill Street Blues, and, surprisingly, those two shows never crossed over. Instead, three cast members from Cheers----Rhea Perlman (Carla), John Ratzenberger (Cliff), & George Wendt (Norm), appeared in Elsewhere's 3rd season finale in 1985. Go figure.

Elsewhere lasted six seasons in all, but it seemed to be undone by a bizarre series finale in which it was revealed that the entire series was a dream in the mind of Timmy Westphall, son of one of the doctors. And you thought it was weird when Dallas did the same thing to end just 1 season.

St. Elsewhere's ensemble cast included, at various times, talents as diverse as Ed Begley, Jr., Terence Knox, Stephen Furst (ex-Delta House), future Oscar winner Denzel Washington, William Daniels (who also worked on Knight Rider concurrently during the first three seasons), and Howie Mandel, whose role of Dr. Wayne Fiscus was mostly comedy relief for the first couple of seasons before Fiscus was shot during season 4, and endured a near-death experience. Interestingly, you had a White Shadow character, now all grown up, on the staff at St. Eligius during this show's run, which should've dropped a hint that things weren't what they seemed.

20th Century Fox now owns the rights to the series, which has bounced around on cable in recent years, including stints on TNT & TV Land. Right now, here's the 1st season open:

I didn't follow the show all that much, so there's no rating.


magicdog said...

This was a likeable show and I watched it on and off back in the day.

I always hated the series finale though! How could all of that be an autistic kid's fantasy? Not to mention the rapist who terrorized several women at St. Eligius or Westphall's family tragedy (his mother and sisters dying in a fire decades earlier)? What about all the other flashbacks of those connected to St. Eligius?

hobbyfan said...

Creative cop-out. They did something similar with Newhart. It happens when you run out of ideas and you don't know how to write an appropriate finish.