St. Elsewhere is still the best : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

As powerful as the last two episodes of ER were, the show itself still does not compare with the much underappreciated '80's medical drama "St. Elsewhere". The writing, stories, directing, and acting were consistently interesting, riveting, and yes, even entertaining. I've seen episodes from different dramatic sitcoms that reminded me of the excellence of "St. Elsewhere", but almost none has been consistently great week after week (with the small exception of "Homicide").

I guess what I miss most about St. Elsewhere is that it always had the courage to take imaginative risks with its stories and characters. For example, one of the residents (played by Howie Mandel) gets shot in the ER. During the surgery to save his life, Howie has an out of body experience, and we see him journey to purgatory, hell, and heaven where he has a face to face meeting with God!

Is anyone out there a fan of "St. Elsewhere" and feel the same way?

-- Tom (, February 22, 2000


Even though I am also a fan of St. Elsewhere, I think it is inappropriate and mean-spirited to come onto a discussion board dedicated to ER and make such comments.

-- Chessie King (, February 22, 2000.

Well, Tom, having never seen the "much underappreciated" St. Elsewhere, I am unable to make adequate comparisons between it and ER.

I will, however, venture to say that this is obviously a place for those who hold ER in very high standards, and you'd probably be more likely to find St. Elswehere fans, well.... elsewhere.

-- Cat (, February 22, 2000.

I agree, go "Elsewhere" Tom.

-- (, February 22, 2000.

I agree that St. Elsewhere was a wonderful show. I didn't watch the first episodes of ER because I thought I had already seen the best medical show on TV and I wondered what else could they do with the format. I do admit I was wrong. Also the last episode of St. Elsewhere (it's all a dream in the autistic boys mind) left a bad taste in my mouth for years to come.


-- maryann (, February 22, 2000.

Hey guys, why don't you lighten up on Tom? Is it REALLY "mean spirited" to unfavorably compare ER to St. Elsewhere? You guys shouldn't get so personally invested in a debate about a television show... this is a forum for discussion, not simply a fan club. Get over yourselves... come on... free speech is a good thing, remember? We should encourage opinions that challenge us, not ignore them, or feel that it is appropriate to send the messenger 'elsewhere.'

-- L (, February 22, 2000.

It is ironic that it is ok to praise 30Something on this board, but not St Elsewhere. I actually think St Elsewhere is more relevant to ER than 30Something. St Elsewhere paved the way for ER.

So Tom... you are not the only one. I miss St Elsewhere too.

-- judie (, February 23, 2000.

LolaBronx -- You didn't read my post very carefully if you think I called Tom mean-spirited to merely make comparisons between TV shows. I said it was mean spirited to come onto an ER discussion board and make negative comments about its overall quality, knowing the people who read those comments are here in the first place because they enjoy the show. Notice that he titled his post "St. Elsewhere is still the best." In newsgroups this kind of posting is called "trolling" and is meant to cause conflict. I stand by my post -- it is inappropriate to use this forum so. As for your lofty comment "Get over yourselves... come on... free speech is a good thing, remember?" - you should tone down your condescension considering you don't know anything about the people on this board except that they are drawn here by their mutual enjoyment of ER.

-- Chessie King (, February 23, 2000.

1. I agree that it was inappropriate to have such a strongly worded, opinionated title. It should have been more generic, something like "Opinions about St. Elsewhere". My title set an offensive tone right from the start.

2. I know what it's like to be a fan of a televison show, to be caught up in all the details and story lines, etc. So rereading my comments now, I would have been equally offended. However, I would also be intriqued - "why does he think so highly of St. Elsewhere? Maybe I'll go and watch an episode in syndication or rent a video and find out what all the fuss is about." Also, in the end, we need to remind ourselves that they're both just TV shows. That final scene in St. Elsewhere, where it was revealed that the whole series took place in the mind of an autistic child, was the writers way of saying that (even though it was harsh and sharply divided the fans. However, that's shows intention was to continually challenge the viewer).

3. ER is a fine show that has showcased many fine performances and has delivered some great episodes. In fact, the "Be Still My Heart" episode reminded me of what St. Elsewhere used to do - using alternate scenes of dark humor and suspenseful drama, and ending with an unexpected twist. For example, at the end of one St. Elsewhere episode, Mark Harmon's character gets cut up by his date, and then he ends up getting AIDS as a result of the attack and has to leave the show (incidentally, St. Elsewhere was the first TV show to deal with the AIDS issue). However, having watched a considerable number of St. Elsewhere episodes, and then watching a current episode of ER, I would inevitably find myself comparing the two.

4. And now, I would even go as far as saying that the two shows shouldn't even be compared. On the surface, they're both television medical dramas. But ER focuses on experiences within one area of the hospital, whereas St. Elsewhere explored different departments of the hospital. ER relies more on realism, while St. Elsewhere could be downright surreal.

-- Tom (, February 23, 2000.

I invite anyone who has seen both shows (St. Elsewhere and ER) to compare and contrast their merits. Sorry Chessie - calling me "mean spirited" does not qualify as a convincing, compelling argument about a TV show.

-- Tom (, February 23, 2000.

Tom: Please read my response to LolaBronx for clarification. I think you understand my objections to your original post -- the opinionated title, etc. -- as illustrated by your second post. Having sadly watched had several pleasant newsgroups fall apart as a result of trolling, I would hate to see it happen here.

-- Chessie King (, February 23, 2000.

Ignore the "others" Tom. St. Elsewhere will always be the leader of the medical drama band, so to speak.

I, too, miss it, but life goes on (no pun intended) and it's nice to have ER & Chicago Hope (which is much better this year) on the air now.

-- AmyE (, February 23, 2000.

Well I do have to admit that it's much easier to make a cheap pun out of the title "St. Elsewhere" than it is "ER."

But that's all I'll give it, obstinate me :)

-- Cat (, February 23, 2000.

Chessie, you are right -- I really don't know about the rules of etiquitte for this kind of thing, thanks for straightening me out. As for my response being lofty and condescending -- guess you are right there too... but it's fun to be lofty and condescending, and makes for an interesting read. As a matter of fact, I'd venture to say that your response to my response (appropriately) took on that tone... and it worked for you. Everybody's got a little Dr. Benton or Dr. Romano in them...

-- L (, February 23, 2000.

CANT WE ALL JUST GET ALONG??? LOL is st elsewhere in syndication? what station is it on? i remember seeing it a few times when it was on, it was a good show!

-- Alexis (, February 24, 2000.

Thanks, Lolabronx! I like the idea of having some Dr. Benton and Dr. Romano in me -- as long as my patients don't mind. Sorry if I sounded scolding. That's either the shrink or the mother in me!

-- Chessie King (, February 24, 2000.

I think St. Elsewhere may still be in syndication but it probably depends on where you live and what type of cable service you have. However, they did release a box set of 8 episodes called "The Very Best of St. Elsewhere". Some of the highlights include:

a pre-Arlington Road Tim Robbins

Doris Roberts and James Coco's Emmy award winning performance as a homeless couple

an appearance by Michael Richards in one of the episodes (who later played Kramer on Seinfeld)

a flashback episode that explained how the hospital and its staff came to be

the life after death episode that I talked about in my first post

the final episode with the controversial ending. It also includes a lot in in-jokes to past tv shows.

-- Tom (, February 25, 2000.

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