We Keep Watching The Same Medical Drama

The Medical Drama you’re watching today is the same one your parents watched.  They same one.  This isn’t to say that some aren’t interesting, or that they don’t have decent character development. If you’re a fan, I get it. But you’re watching the same show, and often enough, the same episode.

Grey's Anatomy @manningthewall.com

The Cast of St. Elsewhere – I mean Grey’s Anatomy

Throughout February and March this past year, Lois and I binge watched Grey’s Anatomy in our home office (what we pretentiously call “The Library.”) Understand that we spend more time there than in any other room in the house, so distracting ourselves from the drudgery has become key to our productivity.

If you’ve never watched Grey’s Anatomy, imagine The Gilmore Girls with marketable skills. If this were a post about the show and nothing else, I could stop right here, put in the affiliate links and pat myself on the back for inserting some original content into my blog today.

But it’s not about Grey’s Anatomy. Or is it? Because every medical drama is the same. It’s the thesis of this post. But what makes them the same, and how did they get this way?

I’ll answer the second part of that question first: Young Doctors In Love.

A send-up of the daytime Soaps of the period, the 1982 film chronicles the trials of a cohort of residents/interns as they navigate their way through their first year as doctors. A number of Soap stars, including Susan Lucci make credited and un-credit cameos throughout.

This film also would mark the beginning of the bromance between director Gary Marshall and writer/actor Hector Elizondo. Never taking itself too seriously the story follows brilliant young doctors Michael Mckean (the Lenny side of Lenny and Squigy) & Sean Young (so cute, so crazy) as they deal with the burden of being the smartest people in the room. And yes, that’s a very young Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame playing a hapless hit man.

The Medical Dramas of The Past

During the 60s and 70s, medical dramas general focused on patient care, usually couched in a life threatening or even a life-ending episode. A sampling of shows airing at this time include Dr. Marcus Welby, Ben Casey, Emergency, Medical Center, and my sister’s favorite, Dr. Kildare, starring the coolest gay guy ever:

Some of these dramas were good, some mediocre, others downright awful (see: Temperatures Rising). But they all followed a basic formula of problem solving, sometimes creative, sometimes conventional.

The release of Young Doctors In Love represented a complete shift. There will always be some of little Jimmy asking for a homerun from his hospital bed, but the recipe, and the attitude experienced a polar shift, so that now everyone is making the same show. Sometimes it’s done well (St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope), sometimes its iconic (ER), othertimes it’s downright face-palming (Nightingales). It really doesn’t matter.

Since 1982, every television writer and producer involved in the creative process of a medical drama meet a number of benchmarks. Snappy, sardonic dialogue is a must. There has to be a venerable patron or matron. You can’t do without the young hotshot, or the young resident systemically misdiagnosing patients with his friends covering for him. Spouses/partners, and significant others will thoughtlessly but inevitably add to the pressure because the show’s main characters are never home, always out on call, or saving a 3-year olds life in lieu of attending some niece’s Bat-Mitzvah.  The seemingly invulnerable chief of staff will have his or her crisis of confidence, (presuming the show runs long enough), the hot shot will make a fatal mistake, and the goofy guy for whom everyone’s been covering will hit on the solution that everyone else missed.

The Winning Formula:

There will be inappropriate relationships. Age differences going both ways, mentors and proteges, people who should be together unable to quite work it out as well as awkward pairings. Friends will sleep together and miraculously stay friends. Men and women will compete against each other in the dating game along the whole hetero-LGBT spectrum. Friends will betray each other, stay angry for a few episodes, and then forgive. Rivals will be forced to work together and begrudgingly concede the proficiency of their teamwork. Babies will be born under apocalyptic conditions to remind us that there is still hope.  A major character develops a life threatening illness. A character’s parent who makes his/her lives’ miserable or is just terminally embarrassing must be enjoyed by everyone else. And most importantly, a major character must die every now and then, provided it’s  someone everybody loved.

This is the show you’re watching. And it’s been around for 35 years.  But it works, so enjoy.

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How The Federal Government Jacked With Your Retirement

Retirement – sounds so final, doesn’t it?  You’re not getting there.  Not the way you think. Or not the way you thought.  Remember the days of company financed pensions?  Yeah, neither do I.

How The Federal Government Jacks With Your Retirement - manningthewall.com

This post contains affiliate links.

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Posted in Current Events and Politics, History, National Debt | 4 Comments

A Simple Soldier, & The Battle of Remagen

March, 1945.

A war-ravaged continent, a bridge called Ludendorff, and a town called Remagen.

Die-hard patches of snow littered the ground here and there.

Months before, the German Wehrmacht launched a daring winter offensive, nearly negating the hard-fought Allied gains from the summer and fall.

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Posted in Hearth and Altar, History | 3 Comments

The Colonel’s Reading List – An Eclectic Edition

The shelves are almost up.  Really.  One way or another this room is going to be completed by Thanksgiving. In the meantime, the de-humidifier is running nearly 24 hours a day down in the basement, otherwise the books will just sponge up the water in the air. Here are my picks from (I would like to say from my shelves but…) the bins and boxes in the basement going into the weekend.  Other selections from my reading list can be found here. Continue reading

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Trump’s Election: Struggling With Meaning.

This election week has been a struggle for me. That’s unusual, because I don’t struggle with anything. I make a serious effort to remain centered around my God which by default means I am also centered around my principles. The sorting and ranking of my moral imperatives has been going on for fifty-plus years and by this time requires only the mildest of teaks now and then.  While I have resolved the bulk of the conflicts between my principles, I occasionally face a divergence of principles.   Usually, I can execute a solution swiftly and without drama.  I know what’s under my control, and maintain peace with that which is not.

Donald Trump, President-elect. 2016 Presidential Election

Donald Trump, President-elect.

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Posted in Current Events and Politics | 11 Comments

A Functioning Society – How It All (Really) Works

Some Of Us Need Better Hobbies.

This past week students advocating for segregation at the University of Berkley, CA attempted to block some of their fellow students from attending classes. You can read about it here.  It occurred to me: at what point point does such intense focus on the trivial render a functioning society ineffective? Continue reading

Posted in Current Events and Politics, Defining Western Civilization, Socialism | Tagged | 1 Comment

Movies That I Like & My Kids Hate

Pop-Culture Gap In General, Movies in Particular.

“Hate” may be a strong word.  Our children are often bored by what we find interesting.  Most of us can relate.  Like a feminist matron glumly watching a lovingly gifted special edition copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves sit on her daughter’s bookshelf year after year collecting dust, we often have to resign ourselves to our children’s individuality.  Movies can provide a good barometer between generational differences. Continue reading

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A Different Kind of Reformation

Islam requires reformation. This needs to be said, therefore let’s stop dancing around the issue. To my knowledge Hindus, Taoists, and Buddhists generally don’t strap on bombs, and they don’t  seek out soft targets in the Western World. One could make a valid case that the humanistic cults of the 20th century far out-striped even the best efforts of the Islam in wrecking carnage on the world.

This even allows for the Islamic rampage across the North Africa during the 7th century.  Islam needs to undergo a reformation of its own.

The West Should Demand Islamic Requires Reformation - manningthewall.com

One Method Of Evangelism

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The De-Construction of Marriage

Marriage, as we know it is all but gone. And it’s our fault.  People will still get “married,” of course.  Couples will hold a ceremonies in front of friends and family pledging to build a life together. For a little while longer, at least.

Husband Wife Home

Reflecting on the day past or perhaps the day to come, a husband and wife share a moment.

Marriage has devolved into a mere cultural habit, effectively ceasing as a cultural institution. Regrettable, given my strong advocacy or Western Civilization.

Considering our recent social upheaval,  the de-valuing of marriage was  inevitable.  No surprise, given the Church’s unconditional surrender to the State.

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Posted in Hearth and Altar, History, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged | 16 Comments

Two Minutes Out Of Your Life – Belief In God.

While God’s existence is not in question, man’s interpretation of Him remains infinitely variable.  Our attempts to understand him continue to vex us.


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