December 10, 2008

Silliness in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman

Two of the silliest scenes I've ever seen on TV occur in the pilot episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

1) Michaela Quinn is new in town and no one will take her seriously as a doctor. To gain the support of Jake, the town's barber/surgeon, she pretends to have an aching tooth and asks him to pull it. He does so, and since she respected him enough to do the job, he begins to respect her.

First of all, Dr. Quinn only winces, even though Jake doesn't give her an anesthetic. Having had teeth pulled myself, a scream of pain would be more authentic. More to the point, Dr. Quinn's plan is stupid. What if Jake, who lacks dentist training, botched the job? What if her bleeding gum became infected? What about the gap in her teeth she'd have for the rest of her life?

The townspeople undoubtedly would've warmed to Dr. Quinn eventually. To risk an injury or infection just to speed up the process by a few weeks is flatly ridiculous.

2) When the US Army attacks the Cheyenne camp, Chief Black Kettle is wounded. Cloud Dancing and Sully take him to Dr. Quinn. Black Kettle can't breathe, so Dr. Quinn puts a knife to his throat to perform an emergency tracheotomy. Cloud Dancing stops her, but after a word from Sully, lets her proceed.

So the white townspeople won't even talk to Dr. Quinn about medical problems because they don't trust her. But Cloud Dancing is a Cheyenne who knows little or nothing about white women and Western medicine. Who has never imagined a white woman doctor or a Native medicine woman who operates on men. Who is asked to accept on faith that stabbing a knife into someone's throat will save him rather than kill him.

I suppose it's theoretically possible that a white man wouldn't let Dr. Quinn touch him after several weeks while an Indian would let her perform a tracheotomy after a moment's pause. Theoretically possible, but totally unlikely.

Curiously, Black Kettle appeared several times in the first season, usually with a snatch of dialogue. But I don't think the credits ever noted him or Nick Ramus, the actor who played him. What's up with that?

For more on the subject, see TV Shows Featuring Indians.

Below:  "I'm not like those ignorant white men, Dr. Mike. You can cut me open anytime."


Unknown said...

Did you receive the boxed set as a gift? LOL LOL LOL

Rob said...

No. I watched Season 1 of Dr. Quinn as I watch most things (except current TV shows)--on Netflix.