Beyond the Scrubs: How St. Elsewhere Set the Standard for TV Dramas3 min read

St. Elsewhere, the critically acclaimed medical drama series that aired from 1982 to 1988, boasted an ensemble cast of talented actors, including William Daniels, David Morse, Denzel Washington, and Tim Robbins. In Season 1, viewers were introduced to the doctors, nurses, and staff of the fictional St. Eligius Hospital (derisively called as St Elsewhere) in Boston, and each actor brought their own unique energy and perspective to the show.

William Daniels, who played the tough yet brilliant Chief of Surgery, Dr. Mark Craig, gave a standout performance in Season 1. His strong views and opinions often clash with others, yet his loyalty to his profession steers him clear out of those, and his commitment earns respect from others. But Daniels was not the only one who shone in the show. David Morse, who portrayed Dr. Jack Morrison, and Denzel Washington, who played Dr. Phillip Chandler, brought their own unique talents to the table, creating a dynamic and diverse cast that kept audiences engaged.

Tim Robbins, who played Andrew Reinhardt, who sets off a bomb in a bank and becomes responsible for the death of a woman, makes his mark as the icy and remorseless man. In the making feature of the series, he acknowledged this as a big break and it opened doors in Hollywood.

Howie Mandel, who played Dr. Fiscus, the likable and mischievous resident, added a touch of levity to the often-heavy subject matter of the show. His character’s antics and humorous one-liners provided a much-needed break from the intense medical cases and complex ethical issues that the show tackled.

The making of St. Elsewhere during that time was a fascinating glimpse into the world of television production, with long shots and camera moving from one action to the other, without cuts. The show was groundbreaking in its willingness to tackle difficult and controversial topics, including AIDS, euthanasia, sex-change operation and mental illness. The show also touched upon some uncommon and sensational stuff like a character posing as a patient just to confuse the doctors, a pregnant woman with a gun with intent to kill a doctor etc. The writers and producers worked tirelessly to ensure that the show was both engaging and thought-provoking, which ultimately led to its niche yet very loyal audience.

Overall, Season 1 of St. Elsewhere was a compelling and groundbreaking series that challenged viewers on conventional viewpoint about the world around them. With its talented ensemble cast, powerful performances, and willingness to take on tough subjects, the well crafted show set a new standard for medical dramas and paved the way for the many that followed.

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