E.R. meets the Women's Channel (it ran on Lifetime) and the soap opera in Strong Medicine, a drama series about two very different women doctors from different sides of the tracks. The pilot episode of Strong Medicine is a bit shrill and the characters of Dr. Luisa Delgado (Rosa Blasi) and Dr. Dana Stowe (Janine Turner) are drawn in fluorescent magic marker: Deldago is a liberal do-gooder working in a free clinic and saving the world while she carries her heart on her sleeve, Stowe is a rich silver-spooned self-centered career woman who has seemingly sacrificed empathy for success and whose approach to medicine is more oriented towards research than people. They also, like most of the crew, talk a mile a minute as if there was some kind of award for saying the most amount of lines in the least amount of time.
The pilot features producer Whoopi Goldberg in a fairly benign walk-on role as a famous woman doctor in town for a conference. The plot of the Strong Medicine pilot focuses on Dr. Delgado (Rosa Blasi) trying to save her free south Philly clinic before it closes on Friday and Stowe's refusal to help. These two headstrong women clash and you know the Goldberg character is not a famous and influential doctor for no reason.
The first post-pilot episode has the free clinic merged with the fancy hospital, the continuing personality conflict between the two main characters, Delgado and Stow who are slowly learning to play nice. This second episode of Strong Medicine also features a few class awareness jokes here and there, and the story of a snooty, rich couple who wants to abandon their surrogate baby when they learn it is handicapped.
This is a formula heavy issue themed series. The theme of episode three is having a baby, caring for a child, wanting to have a child, and so on. There is the pre-requisite ambulance emergency arrival, a patient arriving on his or her own in an emergency, and a conflict of ethics between Drs. Stowe and Delgado. Of course the male nurse and midwife, Joshua Cox, does something earthy and weird.
Most other episodes of Strong Medicine follow that recipe to the letter. Either Delgado or Stowe has a patient that raises a moral issue and the other has a patient who represents the other side of the coin. A strong willing suspension of disbelief is also needed to enjoy Strong Medicine. In one episode, Delgado's young patient accuses her teacher of molesting her. Delgado reports him to the authorities who make sure to arrest him and put him in handcuffs just when school lets out. A couple of days later, Delgado goes to the teacher's apartment to ask him if the accusations are really true because her son says they can't be and she trusts her son\s instincts. If you are still going for this story line, you also have to believe the teacher has a heart to heart with Delgado without any other witness or lawyer present. The fact that this discussions also serves to hammer the episode's point across is just coincidence.
Strong Medicine is formulaic, at times shrill, and definitely likes to make its point crystal clear.
Do No Harm
Wednesday Night Fever