Medical dramas are among the most popular series on television today. Series such as E.R., House, M.A.S.H., and others have been cornerstones for television’s “Big 4” throughout the decades. They obviously weren’t the only medical dramas to make waves over the years. But compared to all of the cookie cutter medical procedurals that dominate the airwaves today, they are some of the best that have ever been on television. One other series that remains just as beloved today is NBC’s hit series Quincy, M.E. The series ran for seven seasons on NBC from 1976 – 1983. Thanks to Shout! Factory, this classic series started receiving the honor and respect that it deserves in 2005. And now this week, Shout! Factory finishes off the series with the release of its seventh and final season. Quincy M.E.: Season 7 is another wonderful farewell for what is one of the greatest medical dramas in television’s modern eras. Audiences will agree that seven seasons in, the series’ writing was still as solid as in its first season. The stories presented in this season’s episodes are fully believable. They are not the overly sexualized and overly violent prime-time soap operas that dominate television today. Speaking of that overly sexualized and overly violent format of today’s prime-time medical soap operas, that in itself is another reason that these episodes are so enjoyable for audiences. Their general content, in other words, is another reason that this season is so enjoyable. The list of guest stars that make appearances throughout Season seven adds even more enjoyment. It is a list of stars that have become some of the most well-known A-listers in Hollywood today. Each of the factors noted plays its own integral role in the enjoyment of this final season of Quincy, M.E. Collectively, they make this season a fond farewell for one of the best dramas in television’s modern era.
When it originally ran on NBC, Quincy, M.E. ran for a total of seven seasons. Seven seasons by today’s standards is a lot for a scripted series. By the standards during which it aired, for a series to run seven seasons was not that big of a surprise. One reason for that is that scripted series at the time actually had scripts that were actually believable and worth watching. The scripts penned for this series’ seventh season is proof of that. The writers have one again crafted a handful of scripts for this season that are just as relatable to audiences today as they were in their original broadcasts decades ago. Early on in Season Seven, the show’s writers present a story titled “The Golden Hour” that tackled the issue of hospital negligence and malpractice. A car wreck lands a father and daughter in two different hospitals in this episode. The father survives at the hospital to which he is transported. His daughter on the other hand is taken to another hospital and is misdiagnosed, leading to her death. This leads to a conflict between Quincy (Klugman) and the doctor that misdiagnosed the girl. It is a conflict that eventually leads all the way up to the hospital’s heads. Many might not believe it, but the issue of malpractice and misdiagnoses of patients is just as relevant to audiences today as it was in this episode’s original broadcast over three decades ago. “Gentle Into That Good Night” is another prime example of the writing in this season continued to make the series so enjoyable. This episode dealt with the issue of a man and his wife having to come to terms with the fact that she is dying from a terminal illness. This is a very touching episode. Again, it is one of those pieces that will reach audiences just as much today as it did in its original broadcast. Nobody wants to hear that they are going to lose a loved one and that there is nothing that can be done about it. It is an episode that is not easy to watch, even for those that have not lost a loved one in such fashion. But because of the way in which the series’ writers handled the topic, it proves to be one of this season’s best episodes and best examples of what made this show so good even seven seasons in. Even when the series left the hospital and delved into other realms, the writers still kept the show believable and relatable to audiences. That is proven late in Season 7 in the episode “Stolen Tears.” The writers tackled the issue of the holocaust in this episode, which interestingly enough aired on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th, 1982 to be exact). Quincy had to investigate a case in this episode that is linked to a well-known figure who publicly denied the existence of the holocaust and its events. There are still today people that believe the holocaust never happened. It’s another part of the whole that makes Season 7 so enjoyable regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the series. These are just a few examples of how the writing in Quincy, M.E.’s seventh season makes this series so enjoyable even in its last run. It even tackles air pollution and other social issues throughout the course of its episodes. It’s really something to behold. How many dramas today can pull that off and do it so well for that matter? The answer is very few. It’s another reason that the writing this season is the cornerstone of this season’s success. Something else worth noting that makes the show so enjoyable is the fact that unlike today’s crime and medical dramas, it didn’t rely on sex and violence to work. It relied on that writing, again.
So many of today’s medical and crime dramas (honestly all of them) rely more on sex and violence to keep audiences engaged. That is in itself a sad statement. It shows how far audiences and studios have fallen together. As compared to today’s medical and crime dramas, the lack thereof in Quincy, M.E. even in its seventh season is another reason that the show remained so enjoyable. As the calendars turned from the 70s to the 80s, it seemed that a lot of TV shows started to make a turn away from real substantial writing in favor of said sex and violence. It is good to see that even as this series entered the 80s, it didn’t fall victim to that curse. It continued on in its final season relying solely on the solid writing that had made it such a solid drama throughout its previous six seasons. The show’s heads never show the gory detail that is used in today’s forensics-based series. Stories involving murders, car crashes and other cases don’t rely on the blood, sex or overall violence that is used by so many of today’s dramas. It is a sign that shows don’t need that excess that dominates today’s dramas to be enjoyable and gripping. Too bad today’s writers either don’t see that, or do, and just don’t care. Maybe if they did care, they would see it’s one more reason that this show will always be more memorable than most of what’s offered to audiences today.
The lack of overt violence and sexuality throughout Season 7’s episodes and the show’s writing at this point are both important factors to consider in the show’s success even seven seasons into its run. Both factors exemplify just why this series will always outperform the medical and crime dramas on television today. Others must have seen that even in the show’s original run. The list of guest stars that have gone on to make up today’s major stars proves that. Tyne Daly (Cagney & Lacey, Judging Amy), Mimi Rogers (Two and a Half Men, The X-Files, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery), Diana Muldaur (L.A. Law, Batman: The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation), Dixie carter (Designing Women, Family Law, Desperate Housewives) Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Gargoyles, Falcon Crest), Steve Antin (The Goonies, NYPD: Blue, Burlesque) and Colleen Dewhurst (Murphy Brown, The Civil War, Ann of Green Gables) all joined Klugman and his cast mates as special guest stars this season. Conchata Ferrell (Two and a Half Men, K-Pax) also appeared in one episode that could be argued as the influence behind a number of episodes of other crime dramas that have followed. Each of these actors had already established themselves or were in the process of establishing themselves in the worlds of TV and film at the time that they guest starred in the episodes of Season 7. Each one since went on to become major A-Listers in their own right, too. Anytime actors that are already celebrities in their own right go to shows that are just as popular even as guest stars, it is a statement of their faith in the show. It adds credibility to the show. And it wasn’t the first time that the show had seen its share of big names appear, either. It just goes to show the popularity of the show then and now. And together with the writing and overall tame content in comparison to today’s dramas, it becomes all the more important. It serves to prove once more just how important this show was and still is to the history of television.
The writing that went in to the seventh season of Quincy, M.E. shows why even decades after the show ended its run, it is still just as entertaining as it was in its original run. The same can be said of the overall content throughout the show’s seventh season. It didn’t need the sex and violence that is so pervasive in today’s medical and crime dramas. And the list of stars that were already establishing themselves at the time of their appearance adds even more credibility to this season and the series in whole. All three factors together more than make this season worth adding to the collection of the show’s fans. Quincy, M.E. Season 7 is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/crime/quincy-m-e-season-seven. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:
To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.