TV doctors vs. real MDs
We’re almost halfway through my roster of African-American TV doctors. We are profiling 22 regular television characters that have changed and are changing the way we look at the medical profession and its cultural context. But I can’t wait to get back to telling you about the real doctors that impacted medicine in the city of Detroit back in the 1960s!
Let’s keep in mind that there were very few role models these men could draw upon as they served in World War II and Korean War, worked their way through medical school, broke down walls in 1950s Detroit, and built their own clinic from the ground up. Your interest and participation is essential to telling this story.
“Phase one” of the crowd-funding campaign at indiegogo.com concludes on Jan. 31. A donation now will help us get the principal photography done. Thanks for your support!
TV doctors #5 – Dr. Peter Benson
E.R.’s Dr. Peter Benson was erratic and driven, part of one of TV’s great ensemble casts. It was a fantastic role for actor Eriq LaSalle.
TV doctors #4 – Dr. Phillip Chandler
Dr. Phillip Chandler lit up the small screen when he appeared in the premiere of St. Elsewhere in 1982. It was a great six-season run for the young actor Denzel Washington. Set at the “old and disrespected” St. Eligius Hospital in Boston, St. Elsewhere was the medical drama of the 80s.
TV doctors #3 – Dr. Preston Burke
Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) was released from the hit ABC show Grey’s Anatomy after he made insensitive remarks about gays. But before all that, he was a major star on the show and won awards from the Screen Actors Guild and the NAACP, as well as TV Guide’s 2008 “Hot Doctor” list.
TV doctor #2
Dr. Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs), cardiothoracic surgeon, founding member of the Oceanside clinic, and pop author on ABC’s Private Practice. Like most of the night-time medical dramas, it’s all about the passion, with the glitz of a SoCal medical practice as a backdrop. But we watch this show for the hotties and the drama. Diggs’ portrayal of Dr. Bennett made TV Guide’s “15 Hottest TV Doctors.” Oh the heat! Oh the drama!
You might have noticed that one of the premiums for a donation of $500 or more (at http://indiegogo.com/a-doctors-dream) is a full season DVD set of a TV drama with a black medical professional as a major character.
Just for fun, I’ll be posting a series of images from these TV shows. But beyond the fun and fancy, TV images are incredible cultural influencers. TV shows give an impression of normalcy, and in the process, they create societal norms. There’s no shortage of stereotypes on the small screen. Let’s hear it for TV’s black doctors!
Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (played by Hill Harper) has been on CSI:NY since Season 1 (2004). Before moving to the field, the former surgeon was the first medical examiner on the show. (Crime shows must have a compelling coroner – a casting call that has opened doors for more actors to play doctors!)