comment re Middle of Nowhere : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

I just watched Middle of Nowhere for the first time on TNT last night, having read the review and comments on this site. One sentiment was the questionable realism of Peter's evolution into a caring human being. (This has also come up in the aftermath of Be Patient.) After watching this epi, I have a different take on this. Let me also say that I just recently watched the pilot, 24 Hours, on video (how nice not to have to ff through dumb commercials!)

Peter doesn't evolve into a caring doctor; he goes back to what he was in the pilot, before he had the compassion stomped out of him by his surgical training. Consider his interaction in 24 Hours with the patient whose hand is nearly detached (he assures the patient that the surgeon can fix it, which makes the surgeon mad), and the fact that he was willing to put his career on the line to go into surgery unsupervised because *the patient would have DIED if he hadn't*. And then stood there for the better part of an hour with his finger plugging the guy's aneurism.

Now, I've seen first hand, in my close friend whom I've known for 14 years, the development of a doctor. I clearly remember her frustration at her surgery rotation where the subtext was, It is our job to convince you how wonderful we are and what a peon you are, and if you can't tough it out, you belong in some other specialty. She chose another specialty. Peter toughed it out. (Consider how not one but two surgeons go out of their way to humiliate him and insult his skills in 24 Hours.) Now, de-sensitized and de-socialized, in his highly specialized world, he more likely sees people as procedures or parts to be fixed, not necessarily as whole people. Which is brought home by the fact that he did not, in Middle of Nowhere, do a total physical on diabetic patient. He was so focused on the identified problem, that it didn't occur to him to look for any others. So being sent to a non-surgical environment, I think, reminded him of the reason he became a doctor in the first place. (I believe that most doctors go into medicine because they have a "calling"). And having a son whom he must struggle to understand is another person growth experience.

Anyway, I thought that this epi demonstrates a beautiful arc of character development, not just over the course of the episode, but across the seasons (stop me before I give the writers too, too much foresight credit) where bit by bit, the character is reminded why he chose this profession. As Peter said to John Carter in the pilot, We surgeons actually help our patients, not just bill them.


-- dana (, March 17, 2000


When I first saw this episode I became convinced it could be a truly great spinoff show. (I know the fish-doctor-out of water was done in Northern Exposure, but a Middle of Nowhere show could lose the silliness and deal with real issues like race and cities vs. rural areas, etc). Dana made some great points about how Peter changed because of his training and not just because he's a jerk. I think that's important to realize about him, and for him to realize about himself--that just because he's chosen his world doesn't mean he has to act like those around him. I hope he continues to cultivate the different parts of himself--not just brilliant surgeon but caring Daddy, nice guy, etc.

-- nancy (, March 17, 2000.

Ladies, you both echo my thoughts almost to the letter!! I always thought "MON" was presented as a possible pilot for a spinoff series. It was so completely independent of ER's regular arc of stories, and presented a whole new set of characters. I especially liked the nurse who ran the clinic. A perfect mix of world-weariness and down home warmth. She and Benton would have great professional tussles, wouldn't they?

-- Chris A. (, March 17, 2000.

When I watch that show I always feel like they went out and got a nurse who runs a clinic in the South to come and visit ER. That actress is wonderful!

-- maryann (, March 18, 2000.

Agree with both of you about the nurse. It's nice to see a show where they don't butcher a Southern accent and make it sound totally fake! I lived in Mississippi for 2 years, and some parts of it really are like what was shown in this episode. I wish now that the ER writers would do more episodes similar to this one - maybe not so much focusing on one character, but finding a good balance between that and what we've seen this season, which has mostly been way too many characters crammed in the show with shallow development!

-- melanie (, March 18, 2000.

You guys are all so wonderful. I love reading the reactions of others who love this show as much as I do. I also watched MON the other night. The first time that show aired I was not excited about it and skipped watching, then a few months ago it was on again. I was moved to tears, and I agree with everyone who says it showed a new side of Benton and really opened up his charector. I too loved the nurse, and a glimpse into life in the deep rural south. Does anybody elese agree that Benton is really emerging as a leader on the show in terms of compassion and strength, a real mentor? Well i am done rambling. I just want to say again how much I enjoy this site thanks to everybody comments.

-- cara (, March 18, 2000.

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