Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! This entry is centered around another MTM sitcom, Doc (1975-1976, CBS), which ran for two seasons — well, one and some change — and starred Barnard Hughes (best known to MTM fans as Bob Hartley’s dad) as a curmudgeonly, but lovable, doctor. Elizabeth Wilson played his wife, Judith Kahan was his daughter, John Harkins was his son-in-law, and the irascible Mary Wickes appeared as his head nurse, rounding out the regular cast. (Recurring players included Irwin Corey and Herbie Faye.) I screened one episode of the series, the first to air after the pilot, at the Paley Center back in 2014. (You can revisit my thoughts on that outing, along with some general musings on the show, here. Also, click around this blog to find our coverage of The Practice, a similarly premised sitcom, starring Danny Thomas and created by Steve Gordon, that premiered later the same season.)
My still-undercooked impression is that Doc, which was significantly retooled before its brief second season (when everyone but Hughes from the regular cast was dropped and replaced by Audra Lindley, Lisa Mordente, David Ogden Stiers, and Ray Vitte; Mary Wickes initially stayed, but fought with Grant Tinker over script approval and was fired after the sophomore premiere), boasted wonderful actors and quintessentially character-based MTM writing by creators Ed. Weinberger & Stan Daniels. Notable staffers included David Lloyd, Dennis Klein, Norman Barasch, Carroll Moore, and Glen & Les Charles (to name just a few). But, like several of the company’s other forgotten endeavors, my gut concern is that this series lacked the tangible humor that made both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show brilliant examples of how comedy could be derived reliably from character. Yes, reflecting humanity is the most self-actualized goal of the sitcom genre — but this notion presupposes that the “com” part of the bargain has already been well-funded. I’d need to see more to be sure it was…
Now, however, you’ll have the opportunity to make up your own half-conclusions, for here I’m sharing a copy of an original script, “My Son, The Doctor,” which was written by staffer Tony Webster (The Phil Silvers Show, The Love Boat) and aired as the series’ 13th episode on December 06, 1975. Check it out — but keep in mind that it’s a first draft — below.
Also, for subscribers interested in obtaining a black-and-white copy of the series’ pilot, which aired in August 1975 (a month before the show’s proper premiere with the outing I screened at the Paley), please tell me below! It doesn’t reflect the rest of the series, but it’s something.
Come back next week for another Wildcard Wednesday! And tune in on Tuesday for more Newhart!