St. Elsewhere


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tabs

About

St. Elsewhere was one of the most-acclaimed of the upscale serial dramas to appear in the 1980s. Along with shows like Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, and thirtysomething, St. Elsewhere was a result of the demographically-conscious programming strategies that had gripped the networks during the years when cable TV was experiencing spectacular growth. Often earning comparatively low ratings, these shows were kept on the air because they delivered highly desirable audiences consisting of young, affluent viewers whom advertisers were anxious to reach. In spite of its never earning a seasonal ranking above 49th place (out of about 100 shows), St. Elsewhere aired for six full seasons on NBC from 1982-88. The series was nominated for 63 Emmy Awards and won 13.

Set in a decaying urban institution, St. Elsewhere was often and aptly compared to Hill Street Blues, which had debuted a season and a half earlier. Both shows were made by the independent production company MTM Enterprises, and both presented a large ensemble cast, a "realistic" visual style, a profusion of interlocking stories, and an aggressive tendency to break traditional generic rules. While earlier medical dramas like Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, and Marcus Welby, M.D. featured godlike doctors healing grateful patients, the staff of Boston's St. Eligius Hospital exhibited a variety of personal problems and their patients often failed to recover.

St. Elsewhere's content could be both controversial and surprising. In 1983, for instance, it became the first prime-time series episode to feature an AIDS patient. Six years before NYPD Blue began introducing nudity to network television, St. Elsewhere had shown the naked backside of a doctor (Ed Flanders) who'd dropped his trousers in front of his supervisor (Ronny Cox) before leaving the hospital and the show. It was also not uncommon for principal characters to die unexpectedly, which happened on no fewer than five occasions during the run of the series.

As a medical drama, St. Elsewhere dealt with serious issues of life and death, but every episode also included a substantial amount of comedy. The show was especially noted for its abundance of "in jokes" that made reference to the show's own ancestry. In one episode, for example, an amnesia patient comes to believe that he is Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, MTM Enterprises' first production. Throughout the episode the patient makes oblique references to MTM's entire program history. Later, in the series' final episode, a scene from the last installment of The Mary Tyler Moore Show is restaged, and the cat that had appeared on the production logo at the end of every MTM show for eighteen years, dies as the final credits roll.

St. Elsewhere proved to be a fertile training ground for many of its participants. At the start of the 1992-93 season, creators John Falsey and Joshua Brand had a critically-acclaimed series on each of the three major networks: Northern Exposure (CBS), I'll Fly Away (NBC), and Going to Extremes (ABC). Writer-producer Tom Fontana became the executive producer of Homicide: Life on the Street with Baltimore-based film director Barry Levinson. Other St. Elsewhere producers and writers went on to work on such respected series as Moonlighting, China Beach, L.A. Law, Civil Wars, NYPD Blue, ER, and Chicago Hope. Actor Denzel Washington, virtually unknown when he began his role as Dr. Philip Chandler, had become a major star of feature films by the time St. Elsewhere ended its run.

St. Elsewhere also exerted a significant creative influence on ER, the hit medical series that debuted on NBC in 1994. While the pacing of ER is much faster, both the spirit of the show and many of its story ideas have been borrowed from St. Elsewhere.

-Robert J. Thompson

CAST

Dr. Donald Westphall.................................. Ed Flanders

Dr. Mark Craig....................................... William Daniels

Dr. Ben Samuels (1982-l983)....................... David Birney

Dr. Victor Ehrlich..................................... Ed Begley, Jr.

Dr. Jack Morrison .......................................David Morse

Dr. Annie Cavanero (1982-1985) ................Cynthia Sikes

Dr. Wayne Fiscus ....................................Howie Mandel

Dr. Cathy Martin (1982-1986) ...............Barbara Whinnery

Dr. Peter White (1982-1985) ......................Terence Knox

Dr. Hugh Beale (1982-1983)......................... G.W. Bailey

Nurse Helen Rosenthal .........................Christina Pickles

Dr. Phillip Chandler ..........................Denzel Washington

Dr. V. J. Kochar (1982-1984) ............................Kavi Raz

D. Wendy Armstrong (1982-1984).................. Kim Miyori

Dr. Daniel Auschlander .............................Norman Lloyd

Nurse Shirley Daniels (1982-1985) ....................Ellen Bry

Orderly Luther Hawkins............................ Eric Laneuville

Joan Halloran (1983-1984)....................... Nancy Stafford

Dr. Robert Caldwell (1983-1986) .................Mark Harmon

Dr. Michael Ridley (1983-1984)....................... Paul Sand

Mrs. Ellen Craig...................................... Bonnie Bartlett

Dr. Elliot Axelrod (1983-1998) ....................Stephen Furst

Nurse Lucy Papandrao.......................... Jennifer Savidge

Dr. Jaqueline Wade (1983-1988) .................Sagan Lewis

Orderly Warren Coolidge (1984-1988)..........Byron Stewart

Dr. Emily Humes (1984-1985)................... Judith Hansen

Dr. Alan Poe (1984-1985)............................. Brian Tochi

Nurse Peggy Shotwell (1984-1986)........... Saundra Sharp

Mrs. Hufnagel (1984-1985) ......................Florence Halop

Dr. Roxanne Turner (1985-1987)................ Alfre Woodard

Ken Valere (1985-1986)............................ George Deloy

Terri Valere (1985-1986)............................ Deborah May

Dr. Seth Griffin (1986-1988) .................Bruce Greenwood

Dr. Paulette Kiem (l986-1988)................... France Nuye

Dr. Carol Novino (1986-1988) .....................Cindy Pickett

Dr. John Gideon (1987-1988)......................... Ronny Cox

PRODUCERS

Bruce Paltrow, Mark Tinker, John Masius, John Falsey, Joshua Brand

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

NBC

October 1982-August 1983   Tuesday 10:00-11:00
August 1983-May 1988   Wednesday 10:00-11:00
July 1988-August 1988   Wednesday 10:00-11:00

FURTHER READING

Barker, David. "St. Elsewhere: The Power of History." Wide Angle (Athens, Ohio), 1989.

Feuer, Jane, Paul Kerr, and Tise Vahimagi, editors. MTM-"Quality Television." London: The British Film Institute, 1984.

Paisner, Daniel. Horizontal Hold: The Making and Breaking of A Network Television Pilot. New York: Birch Lane Press, 1992.

Tartikoff, Brandon, and Charles Leerhsen. The Last Great Ride. New York: Random House, 1992.

Schatz, Thomas. "St. Elsewhere and the Evolution of the Ensemble Series." In, Newcomb, Horace, editor. Television: The Critical View. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976; 4th edition 1987.

Thompson, Robert J. Good TV: The St. Elsewhere Story. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1996.

Tinker, Grant, and Bud Rukeyser. Tinker in Television: From General Sarnoff to General Electric. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994.

Turow, Joseph. Playing Doctor: Television, Storytelling, and Medical Power. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Highlights
Joshua Brand on doing research for St. Elsewhere, on the pilot for the show, and on working with Bruce Paltrow
07:29
Tom Fontana on the casting of St. Elsewhere
02:08
Doris Roberts on how she came to be cast as "Cora" on St. Elsewhere
01:14
Thomas Carter on directing the pilot for St. Elsewhere 
08:25
Norman Lloyd on his St. Elsewhere character "Dr. Daniel Auschlander"
03:21
Jane Wyatt on her recurring role on St. Elsewhere
02:05
Who talked about this show

Bonnie Bartlett

View Interview
Bonnie Bartlett on playing "Ellen Craig" on St. Elsewhere
06:44
Bonnie Bartlett and William Daniels on acting together on St. Elsewhere as "Dr. Mark Craig" and "Ellen Craig"
11:51
Bonnie Bartlett and William Daniels on winning Emmy Awards for St. Elsewhere
01:42

Joshua Brand

View Interview
Joshua Brand on how St. Elsewhere came about, partially inspired by Hill Street Blues
08:43
Joshua Brand on the pilot for St. Elsewhere, and on leaving the show after one year
03:13
Joshua Brand on doing research for St. Elsewhere, on the pilot for the show, and on working with Bruce Paltrow
07:29
Joshua Brand on being fired from Amazing Stories after one season, and what he contributed to the development of St. Elsewhere
08:30
Joshua Brand on his having left St. Elsewhere after one year
03:24

Thomas Carter

View Interview
Thomas Carter on directing the pilot for St. Elsewhere 
08:25
Thomas Carter on the cast of St. Elsewhere
03:59
Thomas Carter on the end and legacy of St. Elsewhere
02:00

Bill Dana

View Interview
Bill Dana on his recurring role on St. Elsewhere and working with Howie Mandel
02:30

William Daniels

View Interview
William Daniels on being cast as "Dr. Mark Craig" on St. Elsewhere
03:15
William Daniels on shooting the pilot for St. Elsewhere
02:23
William Daniels on how he prepared to play "Dr. Mark Craig" on St. Elsewhere
05:02
William Daniels on the writers of St. Elsewhere
02:44
William Daniels on the "walk and talks" of St. Elsewhere, and on the directors of the show
02:32
William Daniels on Ed Begley, Jr. as "Dr. Victor Ehrlich" on St. Elsewhere
02:17
William Daniels on Ed Flanders as "Dr. Donald Westphall" on St. Elsewhere
00:51
William Daniels on Norman Lloyd as "Dr. Daniel Auschlander" on St. Elsewhere
01:11
William Daniels on Howie Mandel as "Dr. Wayne Fiscus" on St. Elsewhere
01:10
William Daniels on David Morse as "Dr. Jack Morrison" on St. Elsewhere
00:44
William Daniels on Christina Pickles as "Nurse Helen Rosenthal" on St. Elsewhere
00:52
William Daniels on Denzel Washington as "Dr. Philip Chandler" on St. Elsewhere
00:48
William Daniels on Mark Harmon as "Dr. Robert Caldwell" on St. Elsewhere
00:41
William Daniels on being recognized from St. Elsewhere and Boy Meets World, and on the popularity of St. Elsewhere
02:56
William Daniels on the ending of St. Elsewhere, and on winning Emmy Awards
03:48
William Daniels on appearing on Knight Rider and St. Elsewhere at the same time
01:55

Ed Begley, Jr. with Emerson College

View Interview
Ed Begley, Jr. on cast members from The Steve Allen Show guest-starring on St. Elsewhere
02:02
Ed Begley, Jr. on being cast on St. Elsewhere
01:37
Ed Begley, Jr. on the creative team behind St. Elsewhere
01:36

Tom Fontana

View Interview
Tom Fontana on the casting of St. Elsewhere
02:08
Tom Fontana on how he came to write for St. Elsewhere after being discovered by Bruce Paltrow and Blythe Danner
06:53
Tom Fontana on moving to Los Angeles to write for St. Elsewhere 
03:23
Tom Fontana on writing his first episode of St. Elsewhere, "Down Syndrome"
05:08
Tom Fontana on being hired to be on the writing staff of St. Elsewhere and his difficulty adjusting to living in Los Angeles
07:42
Tom Fontana on the writing process of St. Elsewhere and becoming a producer on that show
02:45
Tom Fontana on a typical work week on St. Elsewhere and NBC's notes for the show
04:43
Tom Fontana on maintaining the balance between comedy and drama on St. Elsewhere
01:13
Tom Fontana on the use of television references in St. Elsewhere and public reaction to the show
02:16
Tom Fontana on the St. Elsewhere episode "The Women" and winning an Emmy Award
03:44
Tom Fontana on the St. Elsewhere episode "Time Heals"
02:27
Tom Fontana on working with the actors of St. Elsewhere 
05:38
Tom Fontana on coming up with script ideas for St. Elsewhere
03:00
Tom Fontana on Ed Flanders as "Dr. Donald Westphall" and William Daniels as "Dr. Mark Craig" on St. Elsewhere
06:08
Tom Fontana on Ed Begley, Jr. as "Dr. Victor Ehrlich" on St. Elsewhere 
01:41
Tom Fontana on Denzel Washington as "Dr. Philip Chandler" on St. Elsewhere 
02:48
Tom Fontana on Christina Pickles as "Nurse Helen Rosenthal" on St. Elsewhere
02:08
Tom Fontana on Howie Mandel as "Dr. Wayne Fiscus" on St. Elsewhere
01:04
Tom Fontana on Norman Lloyd as "Dr. Daniel Auschlander" on St. Elsewhere
02:04
Tom Fontana on Mark Harmon as "Dr. Robert Caldwell" on St. Elsewhere 
00:50
Tom Fontana on using ideas from his own life on St. Elsewhere
02:46
Tom Fontana on his favorite St. Elsewhere episodes and the finale of the show
05:50
Tom Fontana on the legacy of St. Elsewhere
03:41

Piper Laurie

View Interview
Piper Laurie on guest-starring on St. Elsewhere
02:14

Hal Linden

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Hal Linden on turning down a role on St. Elsewhere
02:19

Norman Lloyd

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Norman Lloyd on his St. Elsewhere character "Dr. Daniel Auschlander"
03:21
Norman Lloyd on the reaction of real life medical professionals to St. Elsewhere and his character "Dr. Daniel Auschlander"
01:03
Actor Norman Lloyd on what he thought of the final episode (spoilers!) of St. Elsewhere
01:03
Norman Lloyd on being cast as "Dr. Daniel Auschlander" on St. Elsewhere by executive producer Bruce Paltrow 
01:11
Norman Lloyd on how his character "Dr. Daniel Auschlander" became a regular role
00:48
Norman Lloyd on his St. Elsewhere co-star Ed Flanders
01:44
Norman Lloyd on the St. Elsewhere epsiode "Last Dance at the Wrecker's Ball" which fetaures his character "Dr. Daniel Auschlander" dressed as a superhero
01:21

Jayne Meadows

View Interview
Jayne Meadows on guest-starring with her husband Steve Allen on St. Elsewhere
01:56

Laraine Newman

View Interview
Laraine Newman on guest-starring on St. Elsewhere
01:13

Bernie Oseransky

View Interview
Bernie Oseransky on St. Elsewhere, which he worked on while an Executive at MTM with Abby Singer and Tom Fontanta
01:16
Bernie Oseransky on the cast of St. Elsewhere; Howie Manel, Denzel Washington

Doris Roberts

View Interview
Doris Roberts on being nominated for an Emmy Award for her role on St. Elsewhere and what her husband, William Goyen, who was very ill said about her then-recent appearance on The Love Boat
00:27
Doris Roberts on St. Elsewhere
07:52
Doris Roberts on how she came to be cast as "Cora" on St. Elsewhere
01:14
Doris Roberts on doing research for her role on St. Elsewhere and how she translated that into her acting
00:49

Abby Singer

View Interview
Abby Singer on what makes a good production manager
02:38
Abby Singer on being production manager on St. Elsewhere
03:02
Abby Singer on being production manager for Remington Steele and St. Elsewhere
09:53

Jane Wyatt

View Interview
Jane Wyatt on her recurring role on St. Elsewhere
02:05
Jane Wyatt on memorable storylines and episodes of St. Elsewhere
02:16

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