Sunday, July 10, 2011

Doctor Doctor (TV)

(1989-91)
Created by
Norman Steinberg
Starring Matt Frewer, Julius Carry, Beau Gravitte, Maureen Miller, Tony Carriero
IMDB Entry

Matt Frewer Matt Frewer burst upon the TV scene as Max Headroom, a manic "computer generated" personality that had a strong manic streak.  After the show was canceled, he needed a place to show off his talent for wild comedy, and that led to his next starring venture.  It was obvious that comedy would be a good fit, and he was soon cast in the lead of Doctor Doctor.

The show was crated by Norman Steinberg.  The name may mean nothing to you, but you certainly have seen his work:  he was co-writer of Blazing Saddles.  The show cast Frewer as Mike Stratford, who was a doctor in a practice with four other colleagues.  But Mike was also a television personality, doing health segments for the local morning show.

The show set the tone with its opening credits, a wild version of the Rascal's "Good Lovin'"*

Mike was, of course, a caring and very competent doctor behind all his goofiness, but the show was there to give Frewer a chance to go wild.  He's not at the Robin Williams level of manic energy,** but he is pretty close.  I particularly remember one exchange the still makes me chuckle

(The doctors are in a small private plane that has lost power and is hurtling to the ground).
Doctor:  What do we do?
Mike:  Depends.
Doctor:  Depends on what?
Mike:  No.  Depends.  The adult diaper.

Another milestone for the series was Mike's brother Richard (Tony Carriero), who was portrayed a being a well-adjusted gay man.  It was still unusual back in 1989 and won the show nominations for the GLAAD media awards. Mike did joke about Richard's orientation, but never in a cruel way.

I don't mean to ignore the rest of the actors or the scripts:  they were also very funny in their own right.  The show was Frewer's and he certainly benefited by working with other talented actors.

The show was successful in a limited run and was brought back for two full seasons before being canceled.  Frewer never really found the right vehicle, though he worked steadily in canceled series and as a guest star or recurring character.  Julius Carry became a cult favorite as Lord Bowler in The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr.

This is a show that never seemed to get much respect when it was on the air, and seems to have been lost in the shuffle since then. But it's an excellent comedy that always had a skewed version of humor.

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*Robert Palmer's "A Bad Case of Loving You" would have been even more inspired.  I don't know if they were aware of the song, or if they just couldn't get the rights.

**About the only others who came close to Williams were Jonathan Winters and Zero Mostel.

3 comments:

Michael said...

Great Job, this doctor remembers me, a doctor in a tv show but i dont remember which one!!! do you have any idea?

Dr. Keats said...

"Doctor, Doctor" is one of the few US sit-coms I've ever really enjoyed - some of the lines were quite brilliant, and the interplay between the main characters was a joy.

And, of course, there was Frewer - for anyone not familiar with his work in this series, I urge you to do a quick YouTube search.

And then harass the powers-that-be until they give in and release the entire series on DVD...

Bill Reynolds said...

As with Dr. Keats, above, there are relatively few US sitcoms that I enjoy (at least, in my case, after The Dick Van Dyke Show ended). But Doctor, Doctor was certainly a favorite.