Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dr. House the Movie? Hospital TV vs. Hospital Cinema

The other day I discussed the difference between Police-themed TV and Police-themed films, and how generally this very popular television drama does not cross over onto the big screen with the same level of popularity, and when it does, it often plays up a "dirty cop" theme. Hence, much more crime fighting cops show on TV then in film.

Well, that disparity seems even stronger with TV doctors and nurses.

While we love hospital TV shows, (like House, a favorite in our home), you will not see House the movie. Or ER the movie. Or Scrubs the movie, etc.

When ER went off the air earlier this year I did a post about 12 Reasons We Love Hospital Shows and sure some of those reasons could spill over on the big screen, but not at the $10 movie ticket price.

Similar to cop shows, our week-after-week interest in hospital shows tends to deal with the consistent dedication these doctors show to the field. They want to solve the medical mystery and care for their emergency patient...even at the detriment of their own lives and family.

Perhaps this an untapped film category - or maybe, it just doesn't work the same way.

The closest thing I can think of to a Dr. House-esque type of movie would be a personal favorite from the early 90s...Lorenzo's Oil (pictured above), a true story about two parents who aggressively fight for a cure for the sons rare disease (adrenoleukodystrophy).

And in Lorenzo's oil, the main characters are parents (Susan Surandon & Nick Nolte) not doctors and nurses.

Yet while there is no end to the popularity of Grey's Anatomy, Nip/Tuck, Chicago Hope, General Hospital, St. Elsewhere, Private Practice and other hospital & doctor shows...the film equivalent is nowhere to be found.

In fact there's new doctor themed shows Nurse Jackie (staring Edie Falco, left) on Showtime, Three Rivers on CBS, not to mention the 9th season of Scrubs, which only has the main characters in guest role who knows what that will entail.

As for medical/hospital-based film - forget it - UNLESS you are talking about mental institutions, then your list gets a little longer, whether it's classics (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), or films like Girl, Interrupted, or even portions of last years The Changeling.

Otherwise, hospitals occasionally have a scene or two (think of giving birth movies like Juno), but I can't think of a recent doctor or nurse on film worth mentioning.


Andrew K. said...

Now that you mention it I figure that it really is an untapped genre. Do you like Grey's Anatomy, for some reason I don't think you a film it would not be an epic fail. Sort of a roommates film but they happen to be doctors. But as a friend was telling me, even the doctors TV show are veering more and more away from the hospital. New shows [Royal Pains] are not even in a hospital.

I think the genre would be cool though.

RC said...

@ Encore E - honestly I don't have enough exposure to Grey's to make a real statement -- my time in front of the TV is far more film-centric than television centric, so I haven't seen a full episode of Grey's.

And I totally forgot to mention Royal Pain --- I knew I was missing one of the new doctor shows.

crackers and cheese said...

Hmm, you're definitely right about this phenomena. Comedies like Patch Adams and some 1980's era film about a slacker genius in med school are the only movies that come to mind that would fit the Gray's Anatomy genre.

Any idea which film I'm talking about? For some reason I thought Val Kilmer was in it, but I think I had it confused with Real Geniuses.

Anonymous said...

Robin Williams portrayed Patch Adams