Saturday, March 11, 2017

Remembering CBS' "Medical Center" ("Undercurrent")

I was exploring YouTube again today and discovered a medical drama series from my very early childhood called "Medical Center." It aired on CBS for seven seasons from 1969 through 1976. It featured Dr. Paul Lochner (played by James Daly) and Dr. Joe Gannon (played by Chad Everett). Each episode focused on the doctors and patients at some generic hospital in California.

This blog post is going to focus on the second episode of the second season. Titled "Undercurrent," this episode featured an anti-gay smear campaign against one of the hospital's medical researcher, Dr. Ben Teverley (played by Paul Burke). There was this 20-year-old patient with terminal leukemia. She needed some experimental treatment and Dr. Teverley seemed to have the right stuff, in the opinion of Dr. Gannon. Unfortunately, everyone began receiving anonymous letters accusing Dr. Teverley of all sorts of sexual deviancy.

As a result of the smear campaign, the hospital's decision-makers began turning to another less-skilled (but more heterosexually-inclined) medical researcher to treat the young patient. And they held to their decision even when it became clear that this was the wrong decision. Soon enough, Dr. Teverley's assistant quit to work with lesser-gay researcher and the hospital began threatening to pull all funding from Dr. Teverley's lab.

Dr. Gannon begged Dr. Teverley to stand up for himself. That's when he finally learns the truth:

Fortunately, Dr. Gannon and Dr. Lochner are eventually able to convince enough of the decision-makers to overlook their disgust with Dr. Teverley's homosexuality and his research is finally used to successfully treat the young woman. (And presumably funding doesn't get cut from his lab!!)

This show was pretty overwrought. It's difficult to imagine that people were this upset over this man's homosexuality, to the point that they would allow someone to die rather than face public scandal over his work. Then I remembered that it wasn't that long ago (early 90s) that a man was taking pictures of people that attended Pride events here in Iowa City and then sent those photos to their family and employers. Not that it really mattered back then to most of us, but it's amazing that someone would put that much time, effort, and malice into hurting someone else for being gay. (Incidentally, that local gay smearer now holds public office in a neighboring county....)

You can watch the entire episode here.

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