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Classic Hospital Television: 4 TV Shows That Shaped the Genre

By    |   Sunday, 08 Nov 2015 10:59 AM

The medical field has always been fertile ground for television. In the world of classic hospital TV, life hangs in the balance, and the personal lives of the doctors and the nurses add to the story lines.

Hospital dramas also have built-in social platforms from diseases to cutting-edge technologies and medication, even how politics play a role in the industry. Some have been better at shaping the genre and paving the way for other television shows to push the envelope and be edgier in the very competitive television market.

Here is a look at some of those classic hospital TV shows.

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1. "General Hospital"
"General Hospital" is a soap opera on ABC that has been on the air for 52 years. The day Laura married Luke Spencer in 1981 is still the most-watched television event in the history of daytime television, according to IMDb. The drama has never been afraid to address social issues. For example, one of the doctors, Robin Scorpio, has HIV and married someone and had a child. Throughout Robin's life, HIV has always played a role in the choices and decisions she has made. It also helps to break the social stigma associated with these kinds of diseases.

2. "St. Elsewhere"
During its run from 1982-88, "St. Elsewhere" pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on television. Even after the series finale in 1988, people were still talking about the show because of how the writers chose to end it, Entertainment Weekly noted. It was one the first shows to have a character contract the AIDS virus, there was also mild nudity at times, and compassion through humor. It set the stage for shows like "Northern Exposure," "ER," and "Grey's Anatomy."

3. "M*A*S*H"
"M*A*S*H" was not only a military drama, it also centered on doctors at a mobile field hospital. The show highlighted social issues, like depression and suicide as well as the personal cost to the doctors and nurses when they lost a patient or couldn't make them whole again, TV.com noted. The humor was interwoven throughout each episode as a way to help the viewer cope with the seriousness of what was happening on screen. In this way, it helped break down social barriers and brought about a level of social awareness to different military-related maladies, like post-traumatic stress disorder.

4. "Medical Center"
The television show "Medical Center" was a CBS staple for seven years, starting its run in 1969. It was patient oriented, with each episode highlighting a different medical case, but it also drew from how these doctors interacted with the patients because of their own personal history, according to TV.com. This would create tension between other members of the medical staff. It was edgy and pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on TV at the time.

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The medical field has always been fertile ground for television. In the world of classic hospital TV, life hangs in the balance, and the personal lives of the doctors and the nurses add to the story lines.
classic TV, hospital, genre
488
2015-59-08
Sunday, 08 Nov 2015 10:59 AM
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