Can a TV series be a plot by insurance companies? Sure, why not? | Street Jazz

Monday, March 2, 2009

Can a TV series be a plot by insurance companies? Sure, why not?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 11:02 AM

Tracy and I enjoy watching House, starring Hugh Laurie, the Fox medical mystery series about a cynical medical diagnostician and his team  at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching hospital.

I enjoy the show, though I have noticed an alarming tendency for patients to eventually begin to bleed out of orifices that one only reads  rumors about in medical textbooks sold in back alleys and on disreputable Internet websites.

My favorite part of the show - much akin to my “favorite” part of a horror movie, I suppose - is when an emergency procedure has to be done, and just isn’t time for such things as, oh, I don’t know - anesthesia ?

Colonoscopy? Ain’t got time for anesthesia ! They’ve done more than a few of these, actually.

Heart transplant? Ain’t got time for anesthesia ! All right, they haven't done this one - yet.

The more pain the better for Doctor Feelgood and his crew, actually, I think. Sometimes I get the feeling that if they somehow got transported back in time to a Civil War field hospital, that would suit them all just fine.

More than once, I have wondered that the whole notion of the House series isn’t just an attempt to drive down medical costs in this country, by making us too damned afraid to go to the doctor. Between the orifice-leaking and the anesthesthia-free colonoscopys, I’m sure that more than a few people have said, “Oh, I’m not feeling all that bad just yet.”


Quote of the Day

"A time will come when a politician who has willfully made war and promoted international dissension will be as sure of the dock and much surer of the noose than a private homicide. It is not reasonable that those who gamble with men's lives should not stake their own": H.G. Wells


Torchwood: Children of Earth

Though it will be a few months before Torchwood (The Doctor Who spin-off) returns  to BBC America, the preview for the new-five-part series is already on the Internet.

If you haven’t seen Torchwood yet - what is the matter with you?


Dive! Dive! Dive!

Exploring with my cable remote, I see that American Life (a channel devoted to older television programming) has an entire evening devoted to Irwin Allen, with Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants playing every Thursday night.

My father was stationed in England in the mid-1960s, so I was already a big science fiction fan, courtesy of Fireball XL5 and Doctor Who. But when Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea began running, I just fell in love with the whole notion of Monster-of-the-Week shows.

The series was based on the movie of the same name, though I didn't see the movie for many years afterward. It concerned the adventures of the futuristic research submarine Seaview, and its creator, Admiral Harriman Nelson (Richard Basehart - The Satan Bug). It was captained by Lee Crane (David Hedison - The Fly, The Lost World).

Every week the Seaview and her crew would face foreign spies, monsters from the depths and whatever other evils that Irwin Allen could find to throw at them. The first season, for those who keep track of such things, was the best of the four. Shot in black and white, the stories were often fairly gritty tales set in a cold-war background, along with the occasional science fiction elements. Later seasons were shot in color.

And what a submarine! It had transparent steel plating in the observation room, so that the crew - and TV viewers - could see what was happening outside the ship, and it came equipped with a diving bell and a mini-sub for exploring.

Of course, later seasons saw the advent of the magnificent Flying Sub, a vehicle which operated in the air and under the sea. Sadly, though, the later seasons of the program were marked by inferior writing, and Irwin Allen's bizarre belief that if we did meet aliens, that they would somehow have skin that looked like it was spray-painted on.

It's not Run Silent, Run Deep, but it is pretty good Saturday afternoon fare, especially for an Irwin Allen production. Allen seemed to start out strong on shows, and then sort of lose interest in their quality as time went on.

Too many irons in the fire, perhaps?

The show was able to use many of the props and footage from the movie, and from other Irwin Allen films. In fact, one episode, "Turn back the Clock, "is a silly mishmash of a minimal plot using scenes from The Lost World, in which Hedison also starred.

The extras are minimal, though amusing. The pilot episode, “Seven Days to Zero," is shown in color, and there is a wonderful promo film that Irwin Allen made for ABC execs touting Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, showing scenes supposedly from the upcoming season.

But they aren't. They are all from previous Irwin Allen films. I guess the executives just weren't paying attention. Network executives not paying attention?

Gee, go figure.

Those interested in reading novels about the Seaview crew can find three novels. Two are simply called Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  The first, by Theodore Sturgeon, is a novelization of the film. The other, put out by Whitman Publishing Company, in their "Authorized TV Adventure" line, is written by Raymond F. Jones, of This Island Earth. This novel is not only the best that Whitman ever put out, but is superior to most of the episodes of the show.

If you can find this book, you are in for a real treat. It's a book that both adults and young people can enjoy, even 40 years after it was first published. It's hard to find, though.

The last book, City Beneath the Sea, is total garbage, written by a man who once wrote a novel called Rape is a No No, for The Man from O.R.G.Y. spy novel series.

It's just Saturday afternoon stuff, but you know what? It's better than a lot of what passes for entertainment on the Sci Fi Channel these days. Sad to say, that's kind of like my yardstick when I review some of these shows.

Trivia note: Until Star Trek: The Next Generation, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was the longest running American science fiction series with continuing characters, with 110 episodes.


Still can’t enough of the Seaview and her crew?

Hermes Press is coming out this summer with a collection of the old Gold Key comics based on the show, much as they will the comics based on The Time Tunnel. It’s not Watchmen, but they’re still sort of fun - as I remember, anyway. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, at any rate. 



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