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Saturday, July 12, 2014

'Dr. Kildare' S3 DVD: Medical Negligence Lawsuits, Terminal Patients, and Epic Guest Stars Oh My

Dr. Kildare: Season 3
The recently released whopping eight-disc 34-episode Warner Archive DVD release of the 1963-64 third-season of "Dr. Kildare" gives fans of top-notch medical dramas and/or dreamy star Richard Chamberlain cause to rejoice. These episodes are among the best so far and create strong expectations regarding the Archive releases of the fourth and fifth seasons.

Readers who are interested in learning more about the second season of "Kildare," including a truly "very special" color episode are invited to read the Unreal TV review of the Archive DVD release of that season.

The third-season premiere has the titular knight with the shining stethoscope graduating from golden-boy intern to chief resident at Blair General Hospital. This episode provides light drama regarding that transition and good humor regarding the "newbie" interns. One spoiler alert is that none of the recent medical school grads runs afoul of an ill-tempered janitor by sticking a penny in a door as a prank.

This episode also excels regarding the guest star and the related (typical) analysis of a medical ethics issue. A surprisingly upbeat Charles Bronson plays a cancer patient who is married to an old friend of Kildare. The wife knows that her hubby does not have much longer to live but asks that Kildare not tell him.

Developments (this will be hilarious when you watch the episode) that concern Kildare regarding the secrecy include Bronson's character acting in a manner that only makes sense on a long-term basis. This shows that adhering to the wishes of the family of a patient is not always easy.

Another episode from early in the season has Kildare hauled before a judge regarding a civil lawsuit that relates to a good Samaritan act in the form of stopping by the side of the road to help a pregnant woman in great distress. The issues on which this episode touches include whether falsely admitting guilt to keep a settlement within the bounds of insurance coverage is justified.

A later episode is very similar and provides Kildare mentor/boss Dr. Leonard Gillespie, played by Raymond Masssey, a chance to make an impassioned speech about the fiduciary duty that even private (as opposed to public) hospitals owe sick and injured people.

An unrelated recurring theme is having newbies misbehave to the extent that it requires that Kildare step in. One such episode has the intern du week involve his wife in a plot against Kildare to save the career of said newbie. Another one has an even more irresponsible medical student horrendously take advantage of the good nature of a struggling classmate/roommate.

An additional episode is very memorable for having a plethora of '60s sitcom stars. Barbara Eden of "I Dream of Jeannie" plays a nurse out to nab a wealthy husband. Ken Berry and James Hampton of "F Troop" and Bob Denver of "Gilligan's Island" play doctors at the hospital. Only having David White as a hospital administrator would have enhanced this one.

Another light-hearted episode has a seemingly healthy and very demanding well-respected author checking in based on his premonition that he is going to die within the next several days. His theory is that he wants the dignity of passing away in a hospital, rather than being found dead somewhere and having his body subsequently carted off.

The "Kildare" producers save one of the best for last in having very prolific '30s and '40s comic actress Joan Blondell play a wealthy widow, who is out to convince old friend Gillespie to marry her. This role seems tailor made for Blondell, who gloriously chews up so much scenery that she almost surely gains 10 pounds filming the episode.

The final diagnosis regarding all this is that the quality remains very strong in the third season of "Kildare."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Kildare" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.