Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Might've Been: Medical Story (1975)

NBC thought they had the next great medical drama in 1975. Oh, were they ever wrong.

Medical Story, from producer David Gerber (Police Woman, Police Story) and Kojak creator Abby Mann, was an anthology series, much like Police Story, but set in a hospital. NBC placed it on Thursday nights, inheriting Dean Martin's old perch at 10 pm (ET). Unfortunately, Medical Story didn't make it past Christmas.

So, where did it go wrong? The competition at the time consisted of Harry O, David Janssen's latest series, on ABC, coupled with The Streets of San Francisco, and The CBS Thursday Night Movie. 2 2-hour episodes bookended the 12 episode run.

In the following promo, narrated by Lloyd Bridges (Joe Forrester, another David Gerber entry), we see portions of the series opener, with Bridges' son, Beau, plus Jose Ferrer, and, in a rare dramatic role, Carl Reiner.

I never saw the show, so there's no rating.


Mike Doran said...

Referring to Abby Mann as "the creator of Kojak", to the exclusion of everything else in his career, is a bit like calling the Ford Motor Company "the creators of the Edsel".
Abby Mann, whose credits include "Judgment At Nuremberg", did write "The Marcus-Nelson Murders", which was not a pilot; CBS took a liking to Telly Savalas as "Lt. Kojack" (that's how it's spelled in the movie) and ordered a series.
Mann came on to the series as executive producer, but was gone in a few weeks, unable to survive Savalas's ego; in later years, he effectively disowned Kojak as anything of his own.

I bring this up because the same thing happened to Mann on Medical Story.
His idea was to do a hard-hitting anthology that would be for the medical profession what Police Story was for cops.
In the pilot, Jose Ferrer is a veteran surgeon who botches an operation on a young woman; Beau Bridges is a resident who catches Ferrer out and tries to bring him up on it, but runs afoul of the hospital. It doesn't end well ...
By the way, the unfortunate patient (whom you can see in the grab) is played by a young actress named Harriet Karr, who was at that time Mrs. Abby Mann.
Anyway, NBC bought Medical Story for a series, but the management decided to make it a little less muckraking, leading Abby Mann to quit the show a few weeks in, just as he had for Kojak.
It happens ...

hobbyfan said...

The things you learn. It happens here that when Mann left Medical Story, the show soon followed......