You know, this is very well written. I agree with it. I liked the basic
story line. The new founded paramedic program brings medicine more close to
I saw a lot of technical problems, but the concept of the show was good. The
characters got to display personality, like Gage and his emotional swings,
and the black doctor who wanted to know what the hippies were on (tick bite,
we find out later).
Christopher A. Young
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by Harold Hutchison
Not too many sirens sounded when WeTV announced it would be re-running
episodes of "Emergency!" starting this fall.
Yet this is probably the best medical drama out there - even if it's a
tad dated. The show first hit small screens in 1972 and ran until 1977 -
with a series of "Emergency!" TV films stretching the run until 1979.
As a young kid, I used to watch this series in reruns, and it was
arguably the first favorite show I had. Today, "Grey's Anatomy" is the
big medical drama, following on the heels of "ER." Yet both dramas, as
well as "St. Elsewhere," put the focus on the doctors.
"Emergency!" highlighted the then-new paramedic program - and it had
much of the authenticity that creator Jack Webb (best-known for his
portrayal as Joe Friday in "Dragnet") sought to achieve. The other major
medical dramas were, in essence, soap operas with the medicine in the
background. "Emergency!" inverted that dynamic, and it's a better show
The series stars were Kevin Tighe as Roy DeSoto and Randolph Mantooth as
Johnny Gage, paramedics who are on the cutting edge. The show followed
their efforts to deal with the many aspects of a paramedic's job, from
the off beat (one episode featured them helping a woman whose toe was
stuck in the faucet) to the dangerous (major fires).
What is also notable is that there is none of the soap-opera elements
that are in the current medical dramas. In a sense, this allows the
stories to concentrate on the heroes, and the series never hesitates to
show that some of them pay a price for their service.
Even the stars get injured and spend time in the hospital.
The doctors are also portrayed very well by Robert Fuller (Kelly
Brackett), Bobby Troup (Joe Early), Ron Pinkard (Mike Morton) and Julie
London as Dixie McCall. Other than hints of a romance between Dr.
Brackett and Dixie early on, there is none of the melodramatic trappings
seen on modern medical dramas. This actually heightens the show -
portraying the doctors, nurses, paramedics, and firefighters as
professionals and close friends. In the sense of the doctors, that was
true for Fuller, McCall, and Troup in real life.
Another interesting note is that even as Vietnam was winding down, the
series featured a number of characters who were well-adjusted veterans.
McCall had served as a nurse in the Korean War, DeSoto had some service
in the military, and Morton was a Navy veteran (Pinkard was a Navy
Reserve officer who even served as technical advisor to the film
versions of "Hunt for Red October" and "Flight of the Intruder").
While "Magnum, P.I." broke the Vietnam veteran stereotype in a huge
fashion, "Emergency!" was already giving veterans a positive portrayal.
But most notable in this series is the teamwork that is often used to
address the various emergencies. It is never a one-person show - far
from it. There is teamwork to rescue the victims and get them treatment.
They don't always succeed, but they give it their best efforts and move
on to the next case.
There is none of the one-upsmanship that happens in "Grey's Anatomy."
One such case was featured in the episode "The Hard Hours" - when Joe
Early ends up needing heart surgery. Brackett's handling of the matter
is done professionally and with compassion. Yet they still push aside
their concern to handle the emergencies that arise.
"Emergency!" remains a popular medical drama. It still holds its own,
despite being 40 years old - a very impressive feat considering the