St. Elsewhere - Season 1
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Co-creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey's pilot episode, which establishes the scene at Boston's St. Eligius Hospital (mocked as "St. Elsewhere" due to its rundown facilities and reputation as a "dumping ground" for the poor and disenfranchised), isn't especially promising. While we can see right away that the show sports a lighter, more humorous tone than others of its genre, the direction is static, the acting and dialogue are often stiff, and what passes for "chaos" is pretty tame. But it hits its stride almost immediately thereafter, as the characters (including Howie Mandel's wisecracking Dr. Fiscus, David Morse's driven, committed Dr. Morrison, William Daniels' egotistical, pompous Dr. Craig, and Ed Begley, Jr.'s nerdy Dr. Ehrlich) are more fully realized. The cast, in fact, may be the most impressive ever assembled for a TV program: in the first season alone, the list of actors with regular, recurring, and one-shot appearances includes future movie stars Denzel Washington (a regular, but his role is minor), Tim Robbins, Ally Sheedy, Christopher Guest, Laraine Newman, Ray Liotta, Tom Hulce, Michael Madsen, and Rae Dawn Chong. Sure, some of the multiple storylines are dated: the handling of issues like gun control, immigration, and terrorism seems almost quaint by today's standards, and a running gag concerning ladies man Dr. Samuels' (David Birney) having to inform his many lovers that he has gonorrhea comes off as tasteless and unfunny, notwithstanding that era's low awareness of AIDS and other STDs. But on the whole, this St. Elsewhere set (extras include audio commentary for "Cora and Arnie," plus four featurettes) is a reminder of episodic TV at its best. --Sam Graham
- 22 episodes on four discs
- Commentary on one episode
- "Cora and Arnie: An Outstanding Episode" featurette
- "Tim Robbins: The Punk Gets Responsible" featurette
- "Dr. Jack Morrison: The Spirit of Care & Empathy" featurette
- "St. Elsewhere: The Place To Be" featurette
Top Customer Reviews
As a teenager I came late to the table and was only able to view about two thirds of the original shows. However, I was able to record on VHS almost all of the shows I did see. I was excited when I heard they were going to (finally!) release the show on DVD and I could, at last, watch all the early episodes I had missed.
So here we have one of the most acclaimed shows ever and what we get is a flimsy slip case, double sided DVDs (that easily become scratched), and minimal extras. This is the treatment they give shows like Different Strokes or Emergency. St. Elsewhere, of any of the 80s shows, deserved the kind of treatment they give The Simpsons or CSI.
Imagine what they could have done if they'd packaged the entire show like they did the complete West Wing. Imagine a first aid box with the St. Elsewhere logo. Inside would have been a DVD set for each season. Single sided DVDs with images of the cast on each one. The extras would have included interviews with all the cast members, background on the St. Elsewhere theme song, a documentary on where they shot St. Elsewhere (and where exterior shots were filmed in Boston), a where are they now documentary on the cast, and lots lots more.
Intead we get this. I bought this set. And I'll buy the others when they get released. But what a rip-off. St. Elsewhere - and its fans - deserved better than this.
I have high hopes for ST. ELSEWHERE because 1) it was head and shoulders above the rest when it aired, 2) it had a brilliant cast...and not just Denzel Washington, David Morse or Alfre Woodard (who all went on to more famous film careers), but pretty much every other person in the show was at the top of their games.
I remember how cutting-edge they were, particularly in dealing with AIDS. First regular TV show I can remember where a patient had AIDS. And I remember how freaked out everyone was by him. First show in which a major character (Mark Harmon) died from AIDS. And remember how there was a rapist running around the hospital as well? And remember that it turned out to be a major character? Not many shows will go down that road today.
I remember lots of humor, and lots of pathos. I'm sure it doesn't have the blinding pace of ER...but ER would not have existed without ST. ELSEWHERE. (And ER's pace isn't always a good thing...sometimes I can't understand what everyone is saying on that show!) But it told interesting stories, and it had recurring characters you CARED about. In so many dramas with large casts today...you don't find yourself investing much concern in what happens to the characters...you're just trying to keep up with them all. ST. ELSEWHERE managed to juggle so many people, and yet they were all flesh and blood.Read more ›
[UPDATE: I have purchased the DVD since writing this review several weeks ago. Fox Home Entertainment has done a terrific job with the extras and remastering. Producer/co-creator/director Mark Tinker mentions in the audio commentary for the 'Cora & Arnie' episode that even at the time of production they frequently had to use very convincing 'sound-alikes' for period music because the original artists' recordings were prohibitively expensive. The one exception to this was the ZZ Top song 'Legs,' which the producers did buy and may be heard in a later episode/season. Despite this, the earlier VHS collection I referenced still has terrible overdubs and does not contain the original broadcast selections - sound-alike or not. I am happy to report that at least for the Season 1 DVD all of the original music seems to be intact.]
I am very glad that the series is at long last being released on DVD, but am wondering if the music rights were ever obtained. This issue has held up many other releases, most notably `Miami Vice,' which was scored almost entirely with hit songs from the 80s.
I will purchase the first season and hope for the best.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Season one not as good as the following seasons, Episode 1 might be skipped as a whole. I think the writers were initially trying to develop stories as opposed to characters with... Read morePublished 1 month ago by VanAa
I ordered this because I enjoyed the show when it was on TV.Published 1 month ago by Rachel A. Murrell
The foundation for many of today's medical based programs. I only wish subsequent seasons were available.Published 3 months ago by Keith M Higdon