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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

'Medical Center' S5 DVD: Chad Everett's Dr. Joe Gannon Will Not Leave You Hanging

Medical Center: The Complete Fifth Season
The Warner Archive 6-disc 24-episode DVD release of the 1973-74 fifth season of the hospital-based drama "Medical Center" is a nice follow-up to the recent Archive release of the Unreal TV reviewed third season of the '60s medical drama "Dr. Kildare." Both series have a handsome and charming hospital doctor getting involved in personal aspects in the lives of their patients that affect the medical care that the former provides the latter.

In the case of "Medical Center," dreamy Chad Everett plays Dr. Joe Gannon. Gannon's job as the Chief of Surgery at the titular healthcare facility puts him in contact with the patient of the week, who typically is experiencing outside trauma that affects the ability of Gannon to treat said invalid. Gannon having a model of scales of justice on the credenza in his office speakings volumes about his integrity.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scenes from an early fifth season episode of "Center" provides an especially strong sense of the charm of Everett and the great '70s vibe of the series. It also features one of the numerous notable guest stars of the season.

The fifth season kicks off with Gannon trying to solve the mystery regarding the very newly wed wife of a medical resident at the hospital experiencing paralysis that lacks any physical cause. It is clear that the woman is suffering from a trauma, but Gannon is unsure if the source of stress is the assumed one.

Psychology also plays a role regarding a 50-something colleague of Gannon endangering both the life of a patient and the marriage of the colleague regarding related efforts to prove that said scalpel jockey can still keep up with the young guys.

One of the more bizarre psychology-oriented episodes has a young woman experience fits that suggest that she is under a voodoo spell. This one is largely reminiscent of the wonderfully campy Unreal TV reviewed 1971 cult classic film "Let's Scare Jessica to Death." 

"Center" borders on camp regarding drama ensuing when a psychologist who is helping Gannon treat a patient who apparently unduly fixates on sexuality is outed as a lesbian. The facts that Gannon expresses a romantic interest in the headshrinker before learning of her orientation and that the general population in 1973 considers homosexuality a mental disorder makes this one especially entertaining.

Camp is also front and center in an episode in which a former juvenile delinquent turned soon-to-be college student first seeks refuge from members of a street gang in the hospital and later returns on said hooligans administering a serious beat down. The challenge that Gannon faces in this one is helping the incoming freshman avoid having his life unnecessarily ruined if an assertion that he raped the girl of the gang leader.

Stereotypical depictions of blue-collar life by very fresh faced young actors in this episode are very entertaining. The audience gets the bonus of seeing Gannon face a group of knife-wielding thugs.

Other social/political topics include sudden infant death syndrome, gambling, and issues related to determining what is in the best interest of a child in custody battles.

This melange of issues combines to make a terrific compound drug to treat a need for awesome '70s style drama.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Center" is welcome to either email me or connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

The season ends on a truly awesome note by having Gannon and Chief of Staff/friend Paul Lochner effectively ride off into the sunset after Gannon once again saves the day. In this case, the two '70s era doctors enter an elevator on their way to feast on martinis and steak. It is unknown if they also plan to smoke cigars and eat desserts loaded with refined white sugar.