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VOL. 40 | NO. 40 | Friday, September 30, 2016

Is there a doctor on TV? If so, I’m checking out

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Season 12 of “Grey’s Anatomy” really ticked me off! Recycled themes, sophomoric body-part jokes, endless throwbacks to earlier episodes, plots and departed characters.

I should write Shonda Rimes a letter. But I won’t.

I weathered the storm of each episode, laboring under the delusion that I was watching the last season. My bad, as now I see that a 13th season has been authorized and ordered.

I didn’t start watching this show at all until a couple years ago. I watched 7-8 seasons last year, getting me through season 11. I forget what I had against it when it first came out, but I do recall Susan watching the first few seasons and then deciding not to watch it anymore.

She can do that. That’s one of the differences between her and me. If she doesn’t want to watch, she doesn’t. If she decides it’s time to stop watching something, that’s what she does. Me? Well, I hate the thought of watching a show I’d rather not watch. But how can I drop any task that’s 12/13 done?!

“Grey’s Anatomy,” the teasers say, pre-mieres this very week. Yeah, I’ve set the DVR.

Reflecting on a theme I had never planned to reflect on, I can trace almost my entire life by the medical dramas I’ve watched.

In 1961, “Dr. Kildare” and “Ben Casey” competed for viewers, and I remember watching both with my mom, dad and sister in Greenville, Mississippi, when I was 9 years old. They both lasted until 1966. Thank goodness I’ve lasted a little longer than that.

In 1963, a show called “General Hospital” came on. I understand it is still running. I recall watching this soap opera about doctors and nurses occasionally, in the summers preceding 1966. It was, however, a mainstay for me daily between morning and afternoon football practices in the Augusts of 1966, 1967 and 1968.

Two-a-days, ugh! I can still smell them sneaking up on me in late July every year.

1969 saw high school graduation and Robert Young emerge from several years of relative inactivity to star in “Marcus Welby, M.D.” That show ran in prime time through 1976. By which time

  • “M*A*S*H” (1972-1983) had been airing for four years.
  • “Quincy, M.E.” (1976-1983) had debuted.
  • I graduated from college and married for three years.

Before “Quincy” finished its seven-year stretch, “St. Elsewhere” (1982-1988) was up and running with Susan and me in front of the screen regularly.

There was almost a gap at this point (though for years I was re-watching “M*A*S*H” in syndication), but along came “Doogie Howser, M.D.” (1989-1993) with the still-amazing Neil Patrick Harris.

I was dabbling in “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (1993-1998) when “Chicago Hope” burst onto the scene in 1994, practically right alongside “ER.” The latter outlasted the former by nine years, ending in 2009. By then, I think, I was watching reruns of “House, M.D.” (2004-2012).

I watched “Nurse Jackie” (2009-2015) in reruns before turning to “Grey’s Anatomy” early last year. When “Grey’s” is finally over, I’m giving this medical-drama thing up for good. I may need a little help, though. Is there a doctor in the audience? How about someone who played a doctor?

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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