St. Elsewhere (TV Series 1982–1988) Poster

(1982–1988)

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I still miss it
gandalf-2529 January 1999
This series helped break prime time drama out of the 70's, "Marcus Welby M.D.", "Medical Center" humorless, melodramatic rut, and was the father of such shows as "Northern Exposure", "ER", and "Chicago Hope". The latter has even paid homage to it through subtle references to its characters and storylines.

Along with "Hill Street Blues" it offered week after week of an ingenious blend of truly insightful drama and clever, often bizzare humour that left me craving more. It is still one of the most missed television programs to ever leave the air.
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St Elsewhere: Best of the Best
bellejolais14 October 2005
From my first attraction to its offbeat name, St. Elsewhere grabbed me like no other show I've ever seen! The characters were more real than most of the people I know! Many other quality shows have followed in its wake, but none quite seem to touch St E !!!

Named for St. Eligius (patron saint of the downtrodden), this fictitious hospital is staffed by a unique group of ultimately good people who really do want to help the sick and injured. The storyline contains many threads and themes and allows the viewer a uniquely compassionate and often humorous look at human foible seeping through attempted altruism, sometimes with better results than others.

A number of renowned actors either graced this show with appearances, while more regulars' careers were advanced through being on this show. All in all, well worth catching on syndication, wish I had a DVD library of all of the episodes!!!
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No medical drama was better
There were very few shows that could provide stirring, insightful, sometimes disturbing drama week after week, but "St. Elsewhere" always did. A superlative cast made it entirely believable: Ed Flanders was terrific as Dr. Westphall, as was William Daniels as Dr. Craig. I still miss the insults that Craig threw at Dr. Ehrlich (Ed Begley, Jr.)

I found the show so believable that I wondered if there was a real St. Eligius Hospital in Boston. I think everyone should see it.
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9/10
Valentine To A Heart Surgeon And Staff of a Boston Teaching Hospital
DeanNYC22 December 2006
For a moment, let's forget the final five minutes of this series. Take the 136.9 episodes presented. This was a new sort of television. Granted, "Hill Street Blues" first came up with the large ensemble cast, the mix of humor and drama and set the stage for this program, but St. Elsewhere went so far beyond Hill Street that at the end, the two series didn't even mildly resemble each other.

Really, the notable thing that hooks a television viewer and a pop culture junkie about St. Elsewhere were all of the references. Almost like a game of Trivial Pursuit while you watched the action, the writers of the program constantly dropped references to other classic television programs, paid tribute to the past roles of their stars and placed all sorts of humorous "in jokes" for its viewers to get along the way. I don't know that all of them would still have meaning for someone viewing the show today, but maybe? The fact was the writers were letting us know that we were just like them, TV addicts, and that made a Velcro like seal between the program and its fans.

That was all just the sizzle. The steak was a great, solid cast and taut storytelling. Clearly this was the best show of the 1980s, and quite possibly the best hospital show in history.

"First rate people in a second rate place" was how the characters were described, and really, you can't deny it. St. Eligius had a lot of problems throughout its fifty plus years as a Boston teaching hospital, but no matter how convoluted their personal lives became, you always got the feeling that at least the doctors and nurses always cared about their patients, and that's why checking in was not just an addiction but a borderline obsession!

Most notable of the players were William Daniels in his role as the bombastic, pedantic and terribly Bostonian Cardiologist, Dr. Mark Craig, along with his foil, Ed Begley Jr. as his ne'er do well protégé, Dr. Victor Ehrlich. An almost Laurel and Hardy style relationship was created with these two (though physically, perhaps Mutt & Jeff is a better reference), and many of the scenes they played together were some of the most hilarious of any SITCOM of the era!

But it's difficult to truly single out any one acting performance, when you see who else was doctoring... future two time Oscar winner Denzel Washington on staff, Howie Mandel out of his zany stand-up style to play it straight and he managed! The elegance of Norman Lloyd as Medical Chief Auschlander, and the tragic sadness of Ed Flanders as Westphall, which, even more sadly, was echoed in his real life. Bonnie Bartlett, Christina Pickles, Sagan Lewis... a true gem of a cast and everyone contributed something amazing.

In addition, the guest stars list reads like a Hollywood who's who! Just check the "episodes cast" button if you don't believe me.

There were some firsts for the show: first television character to get the AIDS virus was Dr. Bobby Caldwell. Inexplicably, they also had the first character to be "cured" of AIDS, but the less said about that, the better! Dr. Westphall's bare ass was the first ever seen on a prime time network program. And, long before "24" existed, there was the digital clock on this series!

Forgive the final plot twist, which to me was a dig more at the network that canceled them than the fans that supported them. This show is filled with small treasures and characters that make them shine like diamonds. If only every show could be as good as this one. Then again, were that the case, I'd probably never do anything but watch television!
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The best
mgchainsaw10 May 2002
The two part episode that spanned St. Eligius' history from 1935-1985 was the best show ever on TV. The great thing about the show is that you never know if things will wind up good or bad, and the show likes to use your own memory of previous shows rather than beat you over the head with them.
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Wonderfully engrossing medical drama.
ffwcsec15 November 2000
This is a wonderfully scripted, well-acted drama which takes place in the fictional Saint Eligius hospital in Boston. The ensemble cast is perfect, with stellar performances by William Daniels, Ed Flanders, and Norman Lloyd as the long-practicing doctors who hold the hospital together. The series follows the physicians, residents, and staff through their personal and professional lives, with just enough humor and pathos to keep it all interesting. Especially notable is the two-part episode dealing with the 50th anniversary of Saint Eligius. The flashback sequences really tie to the current stories, help fill in blanks and make you understand more fully certain characters' actions and quirks. I highly recommend this series. It is currently being shown on Bravo (cable network). Look for it!
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10/10
The Best of the Best!
Syl7 December 2000
After watching St. Elsewhere on Bravo, I realized that it is truly a superior show even now. It took chances that nobody else is willing to take. It is even more multi-ethnic than most dramas today. It makes ER and other medical shows look like they written by first graders. Even after all these years, St. Elsewhere has aged like fine wine. It is fresher now than ever before. Too bad, it struggled in its day. What a shame. It is truly one of the finest dramas on television today even in syndication. ER could learn a lot from watching St. Elsewhere. Too bad, ER's stars are ruining their own show. Maybe if William Daniels joined the cast, I would start watching it again. St. Elsewhere is one of the finest hours on television. Even now, it will blow you away. I miss the chemistry among it's characters and it's controversial but yet compassionate way of handling some situations. I still think Christina Pickles should be recognized with an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) because it would boost the show's genius and brilliance all around the world. I dislike the fact that she will be more remembered for her role as Ross and Monica's mother on Friends than her days on St. Elsewhere as Nurse Rosenthal, a British woman with a love for Jewish men. Anyway, it was a show that just gets better in time. It's classic television and every medical show should watch and take notes.
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One of the best
wolf0088 February 2002
There is much to be said about St Elsewhere and its immense importance in defining the modern Television drama. The series set the formula for how future medical dramas would be produced. Physicians were not perfect individuals, and patients died. Doctors and nurses were "real people", and they, as did the patients, cope with day to day life inside and outside the confines of St Eligious hospital.

St Elswehere would bring the viewer into a drama filled hospital, where both doctors and patients interacted. The writers while giving us a look into the lives of both the Physician and patient, mercifully avoided a soap opera like atmosphere. They were instead disciplined in the intercourse between doctor and patient, and everything in between. They explored issues that TV had previously considered taboo, and handled those subjects in a mature, responsible manner, while never disregarding the intellect of the audience, and their ability to hold attention to dialogue.

Comparatively St Elsewhere moved on a slower pace than it's modern counterpart, "ER". The writers gave you scenes and story-lines that would cause the viewer to slow down and think, and avoided fast paced vacuous imagery and verbiage. Rarely did their ER blow-up, or the hospital fall victim to a helicopter crash. While there were expeditious Emergency Room exhibits in the St Elsewhere series, they did not bounce back and forth the camera like a ping-pong in an attempt to keep us amused. Instead, they focused on dialogue, the characters, and most imortant the plot.

Its drama along with real and diverse characters, will ensure its place in history, as one of televisions best series. St. Elsewhere is a prime example of how big ratings mean very little in defining a shows value or place in Televisions hierarchy.
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An addictive and well-written show.
Surfer-2311 May 2000
This series concerned St. Eligius, a hospital in a less fashionable section of Boston, and the day-to-day lives of its staff and patients. The institution had acquired its unfortunate nickname from statements made by doctors at other institutions to the effect that, if patients could not afford treatment in a respectable hospital, they would have to go to "St. Elsewhere." Nevertheless, St. Eligius consistently showed itself to be a place full of concerned and highly skilled medical personnel.

The central character was Donald Westphall, the chief of medicine and also the one in charge of the new residents who came in every year (St. Eligius was, among other things, a noted teaching hospital). He was depicted primarily as a caring, understanding, and reserved (even repressed) individual, but he could also be seen slugging it out occasionally with the administration, his residents, and even his colleagues if the situation required it

The other two "old-timers" who were present throughout the run of the series were Daniel Auschlander, the chief of services, who had already been diagnosed with cancer in the first episode but wouldn't seem to die (though he certainly talked about dying enough) and Mark Craig, the brilliant and extremely pompous heart surgeon who always said exactly what was on his mind to everyone, regardless of the reaction it got. Craig`s favorite target by far was young Victor Ehrlich, a tall, blonde California surfer dude who also happened to be a skilled surgeon. Ehrlich, though, was content to good-naturedly absorb the barrage of insults as best he could and go on learning from the master. (Ehrlich, unfortunately, was only slightly more adept than his mentor in interpersonal relations, and his conversations with other residents frequently ended with them telling him, "You're a pig, Ehrlich," and walking off.)

Other main characters in the sizeable cast included people every part of the hospital, from the residents to the regulars at the nurse's stations to people in custodial services to patients to administrators. As in real life, doctors came and went every couple of years, with some making greater impact than others. Indeed, the "star" of the series, David Birney, was gone after a single season. (It should be noted that, though the bulk of the hospital staff consisted of men, there were also women in highly visible and well-thought out roles as well, or were at times anyway.)

"St. Elsewhere" was much more soap opera-like than "Hill Street Blues," and this effectively drew viewers in and kept them in year after year. In the last seasons, there were radical changes in plotline (the hospital was bought by a large corporation, which brought with it brand-new management styles), and the cast seemed to change more frequently. There were also more episodes that tried to stretch beyond the established formula of the series. One flashback episode, for example, showed the young resident Mark Craig sucking up to HIS mentor, which was a delight to watch. The final episode proved to be the most strange and surreal, and left most longtime viewers dumbfounded.

For me, the series was marred slightly by that fact that, as in previous series created by Bruce Paltrow ("Lou Grant" and "The White Shadow"), the producer's politics too often became an integral part of the series. In practically every episode, it seemed, there would be a conversation between a doctor and a patient`s relative in which the latter would inform the physician about the percentage of Americans affected by some unfair law, or the exact number of cases of such-and-such a societal problem that were reported in the previous four fiscal years. The intent was good; had it occurred less frequently, it would have been far less annoying.

When it appears in syndication, "St. Elsewhere" can easily become an addiction, even if you have seen episodes three or four times already. The writing was at a very high level, the characterizations were three-dimensional and complex, and the medical situations intriguing. One becomes very interested in how the characters deal with their problems, and what twists and turns their lives will take. There is sufficient comedy mixed in with the serious plots to allow the easing of your pain after serious conflicts have arisen, and there are even some inside TV jokes thrown in once in a while for those who can catch them. Yes, there is far too much melodrama sometimes, but even that can be fun.

("St. Elsewhere" is often mentioned in the same breath with "Hill Street Blues." They were both hour-long, big-cast dramas of the 1980s, both with several plots going on at the same time, both were made by the same production company, and both were part of the "revitalization" of NBC, which by the end of the decade was not at all the "joke" network it had been ten years before. "St. Elsewhere" and "Hill Street Blues" were fine programs, though "Hill Street" was easily the best drama of the decade.)
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10/10
There was this one episode!!
dataconflossmoor18 July 2007
Donald Westphal (Ed Flanders) just saw his daughter off to college in September, now, six weeks later, she is back, not just to visit, she is sort of seeking a permanent retreat to her sheltered childhood domicile!! This precarious situation garners an unhealthy complacency for both of them!! Under the guise of justing hanging around for a little longer than a weekend, the daughter is increasingly favoring the comfortable alternative of not returning to college at all!! What the daughter has experienced is just one or two searing snake bites of reality...It is now painfully obvious to her that she can no longer just get by on the proverbial "innocent girl sweetness" and nice handwriting!! Coccooning herself to the sadness and reassurance of her father, he too falls prey to a resumed innocence of his daughter's adolescent days of yesteryear!! Finally, it dawns on Dr Westphal that his daughter is hiding from her first dose of life lessons!! While very content with this dubious homecoming, he knows that his daughter must get back to her life... Turning one of your children away when you are desperately dependent on them being the recipient of your love, becomes a painstaking act of intuitive discipline!! For this is not tough love, it is utterly brutal!! "Yes my beloved daughter, leave me, remind me of the painful experience it is to see you grow up!! Let me be alone in my declining and callously disconcerting emeritus years!!! Rather than having you smother me with your cherished support and joy, I have to be alone, and be decimated by a horrid silence around me that is not only deafening, but also, omnipotent because I am usually alone, and nobody out there really cares about me.. This is everything a decrepit widower dreams about!! Being trounced by recriminations and primal doubts, and being torn asunder by regrets and desultory conclusions is something I will welcome into my life with open arms!! I anxiously await the inevitable nightmare of growing old and dying alone... This does not sound right, does it? So why am I hastening the process? For you, my darling daughter, yet another supreme sacrifice!! This sacrifice is as subtle as all of the other ones I have made for you, and once again, you can show your ingratitude for me by categorizing me not as being magnanimous, but, as being very difficult to understand!!"

When you stop and think about it, we should all be horsewhipped for the things we have done to our parents... Just how self-centered are children anyway? The love and the selfless acts of parents is something that children take for granted in the most reprehensible way!! Parents do without material items for their children constantly...This is just one of many forms of tremendous sacrifices that parents endure!! In the case of this "St Elsewhere" episode this was an instance of a father welcoming into his life an onslaught of emotional adversities which included the heinous ordeal of being deluged by arctic desolation, and the agony of being stalemated by escalating insecurities!! This compendium of anguish ridden endeavors that Dr Westphal must develop a tolerance for, is all for the sake of his daughter attaining a stronger psychological resolve to mature as an adult, and face her life head on!! This may seem like a common scenario that television depicts all the time, but, this "St Elsewhere" version was far more poignant and compelling!! You could almost see Dr Westphal being fed to the wolves!!! This series was excellent, this particular segment is something I do not wish to see again, it was way too depressing!! The directors and writers and everyone else did their job though, this was a superb segment of "St Elsewhere" I will stick to listening to the theme song of "St Elsewhere" that is pleasant music to hear!!
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Betty White on St. Elsewhere
nhg-37 October 2005
In the wonderful episode with Betty White as a guest star playing a military general, John Doe (played magnificently by Oliver Clark) has been calling himself Mary Richards and calling other characters by names of other from the Mary Tyler Moore Shyow. The two separate plot lines seemingly have nothing to do withg eadch other, but the writer couldn't miss the opportunity it presented. Their paths cross, and John Doe addresses Betty White by the name of her character from MTM, and she replies something to the effect of, "I don't know what you're talking about." It is one of the best moments of television from the 1980's.
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One of a Kind
grey_silver200116 June 2002
I loved this show. When it was on, I always looked forward to watching it. I love everything about this show: the plots, the characters, the location. If you are looking for a moving medical drama St. Elsewhere is the best you can get.
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The ER of the '80s
bcolquho2 October 2003
St. Elsewhere was the ER of the '80s. Originally on Tuesday nights at ten, it moved to Wednesday nights at ten. Like ER, it was cutting edge. The series was about St. Elsewhere, (St. Eligieus, the

hospital's real name in the show. It was set at Boston City

Hospital, now Boston Medical Center.) There was an Indian doctor played by Kavi Raz. The name of the series, which like ER, was filmed in Boston and on a Hollywood sound stage, referred to a hospital of last resort. One where patients were dumped by the

then-newly emerging HMOs. The staff was compassionate. Bobby Caldwell, the plastic surgeon, had his face cut up by an insane girl who had razor blades in her mouth. AIDS was just emerging as a major public health crisis then. So when Mark Harmon left the

show after three years, the writers killed off his character by giving him AIDS. I used to watch it all the time back in the day.
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An enduring classic
Catch2218 April 2002
St. Elsewhere remains one of my all-time favorite television shows. I remember watching it during it's first run on prime time and feeling a great sadness when it ended. From the quality writing, the skillful acting and the depth of the characters, St. Elsewhere is an engrossing series.

I've always kept an eye out for reruns in syndication, and recently my desires were answered. Bravo carries the show Monday - Friday at noon (central time). Welcome back, St. Elsewhere!
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Generic music? Ugh!
juliafwilliams18 June 2004
When I saw certain episodes of St. Elsewhere on Bravo, I distinctly heard that generic music, especially in the episode Time Heals, centering on the 50th anniversary of the founding of St. Eligius. I saw the episode at its first run, and the music used on that and a few other episodes was FAR SUPERIOR to this generic music. Either the music licensing fees were too icy-pricey for syndication or the licensers simply had some kind of freeze on the music.

Here's hoping that if and when a great show like St. Elsewhere makes it to DVD, consideration will be given to release the episodes with the original music and not the generic music. That generic music is for the buzzards.
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The best hospital drama ever!
susie-3817 July 2000
"St. Elsewhere" is the best hospital drama ever.The show revolves around a group of people who work in a run down teaching hospital in Boston. It shows their struggle to keep their patients alive, and also to keep their own lives running.The hospital faces many problems such as, the threat of being shut down, a fake doctor or two, and having to care for the many strange characters who walk through the door. I think I should warn you that at "St. Elsewhere" things don't always work out for the best. This show is a lot like "E.R." with an 80's twist. In fact it paved the way for shows like "E.R." and "Chicago Hope". It can be a bit sad at times.

I find that it can also humorous and fun to watch. So, if you are looking for a good show to watch, that will give you drama and a twist of humor "St. Elsewhere" would be a good choice.
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8/10
Addictive
bbewnylorac19 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This show was one of my favourite all-time American TV dramas. It was the medical equivalent of Hill Street Blues, and it inspired many comedy-tinged future dramas, including Northern Exposure, ER, and even today's Nurse Jackie. One of the best things was the acting, and with Ed Begley Junior, Howie Mandel, William Daniels, Mark Harmon, and Denzel Washington, what a fantastic cast. But even the hospital orderlies, minor nurses and even patients were outstanding, and not just footnotes in the drama. St Elsewhere sadly never drew very high ratings, but the most extraordinary thing about it was that it had real heart. The plots drew you in, and the characters had a bit of depth; they weren't just hastily sketched. I used to hang out for every episode, and I was sad when it finished. A truly successful, wonderful TV series.
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10/10
Great show back then and still a great show now
george-84122 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I can remember in the 1980s staying up till midnight to watch reruns of St. Elsewhere on weekdays, most of which I had to be up by 6am for work. The series was THAT good that I made the sacrifice.

The final episode, like many final episodes of long-running series, has been controversial, with some viewers loving it and many hating it. One review here states that the last episode is absurd because it's impossible for viewers to believe that everything they've been watching for six years is a figment of someone's imagination.

Well, that has to be the ultimate compliment to any writer (or crew of writers): that viewers and readers can't believe what they made up is not real! I guess St. Elsewhere was THAT "real" to people!
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10/10
A Forgotten Gem
mainerose6 August 2009
I'm currently in the process of watching the first season of this true gem of television. I was a loyal watcher during its 6 years but had forgotten what a entertaining and powerful show it was. Last night I was completely blown away by the first 2 episodes. The cast, the storyline, the setting----all facets combined to make this a wonderful example of just how great television can be. I am so glad that this (and other shows from those golden '80s) are now available for viewing once again. Name one show that is currently running that can begin to hold a candle to theses classics. Can't do it, can you? Friends? Grey's Anatomy? CSI? I only hope and pray that someone somewhere will put together a new series that will have half the class and entertainment value of St. Elsewhere.
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10/10
"AIDS and Comfort"- One of TV's Ground Breaking Episodes
MCL115024 December 2007
St. Elsewhere isn't only one of television's all-time best dramas, but is arguably the greatest hospital drama of them all. Take "AIDS and Comfort", an absolutely brilliant episode produced in 1983 when AIDS was hardly as much on the public's conscience as it would be only about two years later. The resulting panic of the staff, their incredibly ignorant selfishness regarding the victim, the ensuing media frenzy and how it all compromises a much needed blood drive seems cliché over 24 years later, but this is remarkable stuff for 1983. This episode not only takes the unfounded paranoia about AIDS head on, but it also addresses the misconception that AIDS is strictly a homosexual disease. Again, quite remarkable television that dared to deal with an important subject at a time when people knew so little about the disease. Not only an episode way ahead of its time, but sadly an episode that's still all too timely considering the prejudice AIDS patients continue to live with. And if this episode hadn't broken enough fresh ground with the AIDS plot alone, it also delves into the problem of athletes using steroids to gain an edge. In this case it's a young teen tennis prodigy whose own father is having her take them to advance her career. How timely is THAT? St. Elsewhere has been off the air for over 18 years, but for me it continues to be head and shoulders above "ER", or just about any current drama.
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10/10
Without a doubt, the best hospital show...
MarieGabrielle31 August 2006
I do not agree that this series was "soap-opera" like, although certainly one must care about the characters, identify with them and want to tune in (then again, I do not watch soap operas).

Ed Flanders, as Dr. Westphal, is the indelible favorite; an empathic, non-egotistical doctor who cares about the patients, not profits. Bruce Paltrow deserves credit for the show; the likes of which I have never seen equaled ever again, on television.

Dr. Daniel Craig (William Daniels) is excellent as the self-absorbed heart surgeon, Howie Mandel, Ed Begley, Mark Harmon, Terence Knox,Paul Sand, W.George Bailey and a well-varied cast each season made for an ever-changing theme; having not been a fan of hospital shows before (or after) this series, I would have to say is representative of its superiority, and creative story lines.

While the show dealt with both sad and humorous medical issues, the stories were well-written, and actually gave the audience something to think about. One standout episode concerned Dr. Craig's heart transplant patient, Eve Layton, and her affect on the stalwart doctor. Howie Mandel and Ed Begley are the comic relief.

Unfortunately at the end of the series, Ronny Cox portrayed the Chief of Medical Services, when the hospital is taken over by a conglomerate, at the expense of patient care. The sets of the hospital began to crumble (literally) representing the state of health care in the US which we have today. A brilliant analogy which was before its time. 10/10
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10/10
Simply the Best
buckwater9 August 2006
Whenever the topic of "good television" comes up, inevitably someone brings up "St. Elsewhere." And it's usually me. After all these years I still miss it. It's among the only shows I have ever felt that way about--"Six Feet Under" and "Northern Exposure" being the only other two that I place in that category. ("The Sopranos" will be there all too soon, I fear.) It has never been replayed in this market, yet I still recall the juxtaposition of comedy and drama, and what an intriguing new idea that was at the time. Howie Mandel sings "Psycho Killer" one minute and Mark Harmon worries about accidental AIDS exposure the next. The casting was incredible...I particularly remember a very young Denzel Washington, but everybody was wonderful: Ed Flanders, Ed Begley , Jr. as Erlich, and William ("You're a Pig, Erlich!")Daniels. "St. Elsewhere" was the progenitor of "ER", and David Morse as Boomer Morrison was the progenitor of Anthony Edwards as Dr. Mark Greene. Let others play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon; when I watch television or film I consistently watch for actors who were in or worked on "St. Elsewhere," among the finest television ever created (Joshua Brand and John Falsey)and produced (Bruce Paltrow).
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Superb program that ended horribly
Phillip Schearer27 January 2006
I loved St. Elsewhere during its 1980's run. All the glowing statements here about the show are true. Few TV shows have reached the level of St. Elsewhere, and even fewer have surpassed it. But I felt insulted, even violated, by the series final episode.

****** S P O I L E R ******

For years I watched St. Elsewhere, coming to care deeply about many of the the characters, to the point of tears when the character played by Kim Miyori killed herself. Even the characters I loved to hate were important to me. The greatest creative works, from ancient Greek tragedy to the best of TV and movies, make you care about the characters. So when it was announced that St. Elsewhere was ending with a special episode that would tie up the plot lines, I was eager to learn what would happen to these people who had meant so much to me for so long.

Of the many story threads in that final show, I now remember only two. In the first, a hefty operatic soprano is brought into the ER with laryngitis before a performance. This gimmick was so obvious that it would have been barely laughable except that it signaled us in advance how we were to know that the show was over, and the anticipation made the plot trick work. When the fat lady sang, it was funny and we knew it was THE END.

Except it wasn't. The camera drew back to show the exterior of the hospital in a snowstorm, then the picture faded to the swirling interior of a snow globe containing the tiny shape of the St. Elsewhere building. We saw that the globe was being shaken by a child we recognized as the mute, autistic son of one of the hospital's doctors. But then we found that the boy's father was not a doctor at all but a blue-collar guy, and his grandfather was the "real life" version of yet another of the hospital's doctors. So the show's writers were telling us that the entire series was not just imaginary but the product of the imagination of a tragically damaged mind.

I was outraged and I am still fuming all these years later. I felt that I was being made a fool of for having cared for these characters. Of course, at one level they ARE imaginary since they are all fictional. But for the show's creators to take the characters that we were led to care about so strongly and reduce them to dreams or hallucinations was like a slap in the face to me.

I disagree with the poster who compared the St. Elsewhere ending with that of "Newhart". That series finale was one of the funniest and most imaginative events I have ever seen on television, and ending a comedy with such a huge laugh was absolutely brilliant. The fact that both series were wrenchingly revealed to have been dreams is insignificant compared to the fact that the Newhart ending was an absolute scream while the St. Elsewhere ending made me want to scream at the TV.

In all of TV I know of only one worse series ending, that of the British scifi series "Blake's Seven", when after four seasons, the writers wiped out the show's heroes in the last episode. "See? That'll teach you to care!" Don't these people have any respect for us at all?
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10/10
Where is THE DVD?!?!?
chadport1 June 2005
Best television series ever for the 80's was "St. Elsewhere", best TV series for the 90's was "Northern Exposure" and best series for the millenium/00's is without a doubt, "The Soprano's". Is it any wonder that the underlying genius for writing credits in all three of these series comes from some of the same interconnected/co-influenced writing sources. But in the case of both St Elsewhere and Northern Exposure the primary writing sources that brought both of these wonderfully intelligent/original/GREAT FULLY Developed/HUMANELY REAL CHARACTERS and genuinely heartfelt (without being sappy) scripts to life were Joshua Brand and John Falsey. We are getting Northern Exposure GRADUALLY (too slow if you ask me) released out on DVD-so where is Saint Elsewhere? With such an award-winning show starring the then very young/unheard of Denzel Washington (truly the magnificent performance that launched his career) and other GREATS like Howie Mandel, William Daniels, Ed Begley Jr., Norman Loyd, Ed Flanders, (and who could ever forget the endearingly annoying character of Mrs. Huffnagel!!! I AM SHOCKED AND DISMAYED THAT A DVD RELEASE FOR THIS WONDERFUL SHOW HAS BEEN OVERLOOKED FOR SO LONG!!! PLEASE RELEASE ON DVD ASAP!!!
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8/10
important evolution of medical drama
SnoopyStyle20 February 2017
St. Eligius is a poor Boston teaching hospital often derided as St. Elsewhere. It refers to the perception that it's the elsewhere where unwanted patients and staff end up. Dr. Donald Westphall (Ed Flanders) is the kindly chief of medicine. Dr. Daniel Auschlander (Norman Lloyd) is the constantly dying chief of services. Dr. Mark Craig (William Daniels) is the pompous arrogant chief of surgery. The show starts with Dr. Victor Ehrlich (Ed Begley Jr.), jokey Dr. Wayne Fiscus (Howie Mandel), caring Dr. Jack Morrison (David Morse) and serious Dr. Philip Chandler (Denzel Washington) as residents. Helen Rosenthal (Christina Pickles) is the head nurse and Luther Hawkins (Eric Laneuville) is the always present orderly.

Medical dramas have been around since forever. There are medical mystery procedural, movies, and also soaps. St. Elsewhere serves as an important transition into darker and more realistic TV hospital dramas paving the way to later shows such as ER. It follows multiple parallel intersecting stories which some are procedural and others serials. It also doesn't hurt that some interesting actors are on the show as regulars as well as guest stars. It doesn't have many female doctors which keeps the romantic intrigue at a minimum. It was another era. I remember liking the lesser character Peter White who seems to have a darker hidden side until they made him a rapist. The most lasting effect is its evolution of the medical drama although its most memorable aspect may be its controversial and much-derided finale. It's definitely a problematic ending but I refuse to deduct points for it.
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