"Dr. Kildare" The Encroachment (TV Episode 1966) Poster

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Season Five Story Twelve
schappe12 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Episodes The Encroachment A Patient Lost What Happened to All the Sunshine and Roses? The Taste of Crow Out of a Concrete Tower

This story also tells multiple tales but sticks to two of them. Joanna Pettet is a dancer who is sure there is something wrong with her and Dr. Kildare agrees but can't figure out what. But she's not his patient. Instead William Shatner, (literally months before Star Trek), plays another resident who is her doctor and with whom she cannot get along. He's a very knowledgeable doctor with an inability to connect to his patients.

Martin Balsam plays a general practitioner who happens to be Pettet's family doctor but is in the hospital with an inoperable aneurysm that's going to end his life at some point. He's looking for one of the doctors on the staff at Blair to take over his practice- including Shatner and Kildare. But there are no takers. General practice just isn't sexy enough.

This story somewhat parallels the one with James Earl Jones: What is the profession of a doctor for: to make money, get glory or do the most good? It adds this to that: Is the medical profession just about science or is it also about people?

The casting is interesting. Balsam played the prosecuting attorney in the pilot for The Defenders in which Shatner played Kenneth Preston back in 1957. It's the episode Boston Legal used in a rather phony sequel to that story. One of the interns is played by Bruce Hyde who would join Shatner on the bridge of the Enterprise as Lt. Kevin Riley for two episodes. The beautiful Diana Muldaur appears as Balsam's wife in an unnecessary subplot involving her finally getting pregnant after all these years. She would turn up in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Finally, Pettet has a concerned boyfriend played by a young actor named Jack Nicholson, three years before Easy Rider made him a star.

The Pettet part of the story puts Shatner and Kildare in a similar situation to one they had in the 6th ever episode of the series "Admitting Service, (11/2/61) in which Kildare was an intern questioning Shatner's determination that an elderly patient had nothing wrong with him despite the fact that the old man insisted he felt poorly and Kildare sensed something was wrong. The old man died and the impetuous Kildare all but accused Shatner's character of malpractice. That was a much better episode than this one. Shatner played Dr. Toby Cunningham then. Here he is Dr. Carl Noyes, so they aren't the same character, despite the similarities. "Noyes" is pronounced "noise", although Shatner, giving a tight-lipped performance, doesn't make much of it. An alternative pronunciation would be Dr, No-Yes which may have been intended to be ironic because the good doctor has a change of heart in the end.

I have a fantasy about this episode. It should have been positioned last and Lew Ayres should have been hired to play the kindly Dr. Orloff. Kildare could have been the one who decided to take over the practice, replacing the movie's Dr. Kildare, especially after Gillespie has his heart attack from the previous story and decided to retire. That would have been the perfect way to end this classic show, far better than the lame finale we actually got.
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