The Hospital – Bad Doc, No Biscuit! week


The Hospital (1971) – Rated PG

George C. Scott stars in this black comedy as Herbert Bock, a suicidal doctor who struggles to find meaning in his life while a murderer stalks the halls of his hospital. Herbert’s life is on a downward spiral, but just as he contemplates killing himself, patients at the hospital begin dying — apparently from erroneous treatments they’re being mysteriously ministered. Diana Rigg co-stars in this Academy Award winner for Best Screenplay.

“These things happen”

“We stayed together through a process of attrition.”

I could fill this whole review with quotes pulled from this movie. Paddy Chayefsky’s snappy indictment of the hospital business (circa 1970) is the real star here. Yes there is a fair amount of psychobabble, a Hollywood relationship where two people meet and instantly fall in love and more than a few dated references but the damning of  the medical establishment remains pertinent now – more than four decades later and the dialogue is continuously quotable.

George C. Scott is a good orator and gives a powerful performance here as hospital administrator Dr. Bock. He was nominated for Best Actor but (justly) lost to Gene Hackman’s signature performance in The French Connection. Scott plays angry quite well, even while delivering the wonderful soliloquys that Chayefsky wrote for him. The Hospital has a large cast but Scott is the only one with significant screen time but it works due to his delightful performance.

Diana Rigg is radiant as a young oddball/radical/love interest. A young Frances Sternhagen has a brief but amusing role as Mrs. Cushing. Richard Dysart is enjoyable as the arrogant incompetent Dr. Welbeck. Other cast members were not particularly memorable.

Side note: One thing I really like about 70’s films is that it was okay for people to be ugly. People were just people, not supermodels. If this film were remade today, the cast would look like something on the CW network.

People Watch: Look for Stockard Channing, Christopher Guest, and SOAP’s Katherine Helmond in blink-and-you’ll miss them parts. Also Paddy Chayefsky is the opening narrator.

Nip/Tuck – Bad Doc, No Biscuit! week

After a solid month of horror movies, I feel like I should get back to something a bit more grounded. Sadly that will not be the case as the family and I are currently working our way through the sheer depravity of Nip/Tuck.

Nip/Tuck (2003-9)

A little shady deal here, a little ethical entanglement there — it’s a way of life for Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon), Miami doctors who own an exclusive plastic surgery clinic that generates as much trouble as it does cash. While shameless playboy Christian sometimes enjoys his female patients a little too much, family man Sean struggles to keep his home life off the rocks in this Golden Globe-winning series.

I really don’t know how to feel about Nip/Tuck. It is compulsively watchable but utterly ridiculous. The operations seem very realistic and are quite gory for television – not to mention squirm-inducing (so much for not mentioning it). Yet when policework enters as a serious subplot, you will tear your hair out screaming at your TV that that could never happen. It is like trying to buy Glee as a serious simulation of high school. Not coincidentally Ryan Murphy is the creator of both shows.

WARNING: The Carver subplot starts out promising in Season 2 but is maddeningly moronic in Season 3. Honestly it results in more than one of the most disappointing TV episodes I have ever seen.

If you are at all offended by sexual oh let’s say variety, then this is not the show for you. Male and female homosexuality, transsexuals, bisexuality, prostitution, pornography, marital aids, menage a trois, cradle-robbing, sexual blackmail, sexual dimorphism, rape and even bestiality are covered in this show. The sex definitely sells Nip/Tuck and is a large part of what makes the show so watchable.

Obviously a program about plastic surgery in Miami features beautiful people. Julian McMahon does a great job of playing Dr. Christian Troy as well as having the most perfectly groomed chest hair I have ever seen. It appears to be in his contract that he will be shirtless every second episode and have his butt shown every third. Dylan Walsh is fine as his upright/uptight partner Dr. Sean McNamara but strangely Christian the womanizer seems a more sympathetic character.

Even though the two men are the focus of the Nip/Tuck, the women often steal the show. Joely Richardson is wonderful as Sean’s wife and has piercing blue-eyes. Her real-life mother Vanessa Redgrave appears as her mother in several episodes. Dr. Liz Cruz, as played by Roma Maffia, is easily the funniest and most sympathetic character on the show.

Having grown up in Miami, I love shows that are set there. Sadly Nip/Tuck doesn’t take as much advantage of the setting as say Dexter or even CSI:Miami. Still the settings are pretty, the people are pretty, the cars are pretty, the houses are pretty. This is definitely a waste of time show but a very fun waste of time.

People Watch: Wow! There is an absolute parade of guest-stars in this show (mostly in the later seasons). Season 4 alone has Brooke Shields, Larry Hagman, Jacqueline Bisset, Sanaa Lathan, Alanis Morissette, and Rosie O’Donnell – each of them in significant multi-episode story arcs.

Amazon & The Prime Directive & A Little Hulu Too

I often mention that we have cut the cable here thanks to the cornucopia available on Netflix and Hulu. The biggest exception to that is that I’m addicted to The Walking Dead. I buy each episode from Amazon the day after it airs. Each episode is only $1.99 ($2.99 in HD) and there are only 13 episodes this season so basically you can get the whole season for $26 ($39 for HD) at least six months before the DVD will be released. You do have to have an Amazon-compatible device (like the Roku) to play them on the TV.

Amazon Prime is looking to be a major player in the video world. So far their offerings are nice but they run a very distant third to Netflix and Hulu and most of their movies and shows are duplicated by one or both services. On the other hand if you are an Amazon addict then the Free 2-day shipping may make the choice for you.

Amazon Prime just added a lending library for the Kindle so my wonderful wife may be signing us up shortly. With Amazon releasing a $200 tablet shortly to compete with Apple, I would expect them to sign a bunch more content partners for video over the next few months.

Amazon currently has a FREE trial month of Prime if you haven’t used it yet. It costs $79 a year which breaks down to $6.58 a month so it is fairly inexpensive for the number of benefits you receive.

Hulu just added a bunch of CW shows so I can watch Supernatural on my Roku! Woohoo! For the rest of you, there is Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, 90210, Ringer, Nikita, Hart of Dixie, Gossip Girl and America’s Next Top Model.