bad TV, healthcare, nostalgia

Trapper John, M.D. is basically The Love Boat, but with a medical theme…

In the featured screenshot, Gonzo gets physical with a teenaged deaf patient, whom he calls “sweetheart” as he ties her to the bed… Eew. He later manages to “tame” her and get her reacquainted with the mother who abandoned her when she was a baby.

There are several serious issues I could be writing about today, but it’s Friday, and Bill is coming home tonight. Aside from that, it’s a gloomy, rainy morning, and I just don’t feel like wading into the bad news that is all over the Internet today. Nah… I’d rather write about something totally off the wall and goofy… I suspect only people of a certain age will even care about this post. That suits me fine. So here goes…

For some reason, I’ve been binge watching old episodes of Trapper John, M.D. all week. That show, which was loosely based on Richard Hooker’s 1968 novel that brought us the movie and television show, M*A*S*H, premiered in September 1979, when I was seven years old. It was a medical drama, with occasional elements of comedy, and as I recall, it aired on Sunday nights at 10pm on the in the eastern U.S. time zone. In 1979, I lived in Fairfax, Virginia, which is a suburb of Washington, DC. Trapper John was on way past my bedtime in those days, but I do remember my mom used to watch it. It ran for seven seasons, finally ending in the summer of 1986, when I was about 14.

Every once in awhile, when I was growing up, I’d manage to see an episode of Trapper John, never realizing that it was basically a spinoff of M*A*S*H, which also aired during my childhood. I remember watching M*A*S*H more regularly, as it came on at a time that was more conducive to my bedtime. But it wasn’t until I was a lot older that I found out that the two shows, which seemed so different from each other, were related in any way. If I recall correctly, both aired on CBS, which always seemed like kind of a stodgy network to me. And now I realize that by even mentioning a big three network, I’m dating myself. Today’s young people have no idea about the struggle of only having a few channels to watch. 😉

Watching Trapper John, M.D. has been an interesting experience. Last night, after watching I don’t know how many episodes, I concluded that the show is basically The Love Boat, only with a medical theme. Every week, there were different guest stars, some of whom recurred in the same role, and some who came back as different characters. I remember The Love Boat was similar, in that a lot of people had more than one voyage on the Princess, but as different characters. Both shows, as well as shows like CHiPs, Dallas, Dynasty, Fantasy Island, and the like, were great vehicles for aging movie stars and Broadway performers.

In Season One of Trapper John, M.D., Trapper’s scrub nurse is a heavyset lady with a distinctively clear speaking voice named Starch. Starch is, of course, a nickname, and she was played by Mary McCarty, who was in her 50s at the time. Mary McCarty was a well-known torch singer and actress who did a lot of stage work and some movies. She was even in All That Jazz, a movie I never get tired of watching, but didn’t discover until I was 18– again, because I was only seven when it was released and it was rated R. Sadly, Mary only lasted a season on Trapper John, because she died very suddenly of a heart attack at just 56 years of age. I’m only seven years younger than Mary was when she died, but I think I look a hell of a lot younger. That’s another thing about the 70s and 80s… I don’t think people held their ages quite as well then, probably because of all the smoking.

There were a lot of other legendary actors on that show, as well as a few less legendary ones. A couple of days ago, I happened to catch an episode from the first season that starred Robbie Rist, aka “Cousin Oliver” on The Brady Bunch. I follow Robbie Rist on Facebook, because I think he’s hilarious and I agree with his views on a lot of things. He changed his profile photo yesterday, and I was able to make a comment, even though we aren’t “friends”. The picture he posted cracked me up; so I said so, then mentioned that I’d just seen him on Trapper John, M.D. The episode is called “The Surrogate”, and it was made just as Robbie’s voice was changing.

So true.

Robbie asked me where I found his episode, so I shared the link. For some reason, the uploader has versions of Trapper John that were partly dubbed in German, which of course is useful for me, especially since they also helpfully included English subtitles. What’s strange is that only parts of the episode are in German. The rest of it is in English, minus subtitles. Robbie then shared the link in a separate post and even gave me a shout out. I enjoyed reading the comments from his friends.

This episode also features Kim Cattrall, whose belly dancing character comes from the Middle East as is promised to Gonzo Gates in marriage. I guess it makes sense, since Iran was very much in the news in 1979. I clearly remember that, even though I was only 7 years old at the time.

It’s only been somewhat recently that I’ve started to accept the fact that I’m getting old. Today, I spotted the beginnings of what will probably be a varicose vein on my upper right thigh. I noticed a small section of a purplish looking vein popping out of my flesh this morning, then remembered that my mom has similar looking veins on her legs. I’m a lot like my mom on many levels. If I were standing next to her, you would definitely be able to tell that she’s my mom. I already have the dreaded spider veins and ruddy skin that comes from Celtic genes, just like she does. And I’m sure I will have high blood pressure, if I don’t already have it. She has it, and my grandmother had it. On the few occasions I let a doctor see me, they’ve assumed I have it, although so far, they haven’t been able to make that diagnosis. Of course, I haven’t seen a physician in over ten years.

Watching this show has the weird effect of reminding me of when I was very young, and also reminding me that I’m now getting old. I listen to the sexist, paternalistic language from the show’s male stars– Pernell Roberts in the title role, Gregory Harrison as the hot Lothario doctor, Gonzo Gates, Charle Siebert as Stanley Riverside, Jr., and Brian Stokes Mitchell as the token black doctor, Jackpot. Trapper and Gonzo are particularly paternalistic, especially toward the women. They call their female patients and colleagues “kiddo”, “baby”, “young lady”, “girl”, “sweetheart”, and “honey”. A lot of my regular readers, and people who actually know me, know that I hate pet names from people with whom I don’t share a bed. I think I would lose teeth from compulsive grinding if I were in the hospital and my doctor called me cutesy names. But I guess this was considered appealing back in the day…

What is also interesting to me is seeing how improbable the storylines are. For one thing, the patients all look way too healthy to be in the hospital. There are very rarely any truly convincing dramatic moments on this show. Very few patients ever come close to actually dying. Most seem to be on vacation, electing to “stick around” for a few days. I watched an episode this morning in which a lupus patient elects to take herself off all drugs and treatment protocols in lieu of a holistic approach. Then she checks out of the hospital and goes home with a guy who has developed the new holistic approach. He’s rich, and has a huge house with servants. We see him pouring her champagne as they lounge on the patio… Suddenly, she’s moaning in pain. Gonzo shows up with an ambulance, which the holistic guru turns away.

Having earned a master’s degree in public health with a health administration focus, I know that nowadays, you have to be pretty sick to be hospitalized. People in the hospital don’t just stay there for a rest. And certainly, none look as hale and hearty as the ones on Trapper John. I saw another episode yesterday with a woman who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was bright and beautiful looking, but was sitting in a wheelchair. When she knocks over her checkers game, she pleads with Gonzo not to tell Trapper, because he’ll “put her to bed”. Sure enough, Trapper does try to order her to bed, but she says no thanks, and wheels off to do her “living”. That does not seem like a very realistic scenario today, and I doubt it was in 1979 or 1980, either. No one on Trapper John really looks sick… and it doesn’t seem to have even occurred to the writers to even try to make them look the part. Yet this show lasted seven seasons!

I remember back in 1997, I spent a few days in an Austrian town called St. Poelten. I was alone, so I spent time in my hotel room, watching TV. Trapper John, M.D. was airing, and I distinctly remember watching it, along with annoying German dish detergent commercials. One was for a product called “Lemon Frisch” and had a jingle that ripped off the melody for the late 50s pop song, “Lollipop”. I guess this was a popular show in Germany and German speaking countries. I have never been in a German hospital, but I have always imagined German doctors to be on the authoritative side, kind of like Trapper and Gonzo… although I’m sure they don’t romance their patients or use terms of endearment to address them before they send them a bill for services rendered.

Watching Trapper John, M.D., one gets the sense that these doctors were in the business out of the goodness of their hearts and never charged their patients a cent. Why else would wine swilling Gonzo Gates live in a crappy RV called The Titanic, parked in the hospital parking lot? He regularly romances nurses in the RV, and they are all somehow impressed solely by his good looks, rather than repulsed by his primitive living conditions. We’re also supposed to believe that the nurses don’t all end up hating Gonzo for loving and leaving them, as he must, since he’s single and constantly on the make.

The doctors on Trapper John, M.D. freely discuss patient cases with anyone and everyone– with other doctors, with family members and friends, and even with perfect strangers! These were the days before HIPAA, don’t you know? Seems like just yesterday! And in Germany, it still is yesterday, since HIPAA isn’t a thing here. My dentist is happy to tell Bill all about my mouth when we go visit him. He’ll even do it in the hallway, where the rest of the waiting room can hear. I notice that they often had storylines that were kind of topical in the 80s, though. Like, for instance, one episode involved a child living in a bubble, much like the case of David Vetter, a Texas boy about my age who had such challenges with his immune system that he was forced to spend his entire life in a sterile environment. Nowadays, I doubt David Vetter would live that way.

Another thing I noticed, besides the improbable storylines, is that Trapper and Gonzo often work outside of their areas of specialization. I saw an episode last night that had Trapper and Gonzo, who are hotshot cardio-thoracic surgeons, doing a delicate eye surgery on a young woman. And they are being led through the surgery by a retired alcoholic eye surgeon who had just been on a bender and had trembling hands. That particular episode included a mention of the “n-bomb”, which was not such an uncommon thing in the 80s. They also work on pediatric cases, such as the episode involving Robbie Rist

This week, while binging on this show, I have learned that the exterior shots in the opening credits were filmed at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, a hospital in Los Angeles that is now owned by a South Korean company. The real life hospital doesn’t get the best ratings or reviews on Google, however, most of the patients are evidently of Korean descent. I keep looking at pictures of that hospital, trying to find the iconic tower shown on the opening credits of Trapper John, M.D., which had a pretty realistic looking set at 20th Century Fox Studios.

And finally… the last thing I noticed is that Trapper John, M.D. has sort of a kinky element to it. Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least three episodes involving patients being restrained to protect them from themselves. One episode in particular, involving a deaf girl with celiac disease that Gonzo almost runs over with his crappy R.V., shows the girl being restrained several times. And Gonzo develops kind of a quasi parental-romantic attachment to her. It’s definitely a bit cringeworthy. On the other hand, I’m sure there are women out there who might fantasize about being restrained by Gregory Harrison. He was quite the hottie back in the day… or, at least some women (and perhaps even some men) thought so. Even a lady on Robbie Rist’s thread about this show mentioned how “dreamy” ol’ Gregory Harrison was in his Gonzo days.

We’re gonna help you whether you want it or not! And if you don’t behave, we’ll get out the restraints! Maybe this is why the show aired after 10pm. It seems very family friendly by today’s standards, except for the occasional n-bomb being dropped.

Incidentally, I did some research on Gregory Harrison. He’s been married to actress/model Randi Oakes for about 40 years. Randi Oakes famously played a lady cop (and car thief) on CHiPs. She was also on The Love Boat. The couple share four grown children– three natural daughters and an adopted son. Sadly, it appears that Harrison’s son has had some legal troubles and is currently incarcerated in Idaho for sexual offenses against a minor under age 16. His daughters, on the other hand, are quite gorgeous and seem to be doing well.

CHiPs was another show that was blatantly sexist and featured characters that were overly involved in the lives of the guest stars’ characters. It’s a show with very little basis in reality. But I guess we liked that shit in the late 70s and early 80s… It’s hard to believe I was alive when that kind of show was the norm. I don’t know why I watch it, since today, it would all be considered dreck. I guess I’m just fascinated with the past, and how very quickly years pass once you’re over 21.

Anyway, I know I should watch some newer shows… and I have downloaded some. There’s something very comforting about old shows, and a reminder of how things used to be, back in the days before the Internet… and COVID-19. But if I ever have a horny doctor with a receding hairline and a beard who calls me “kiddo” or “young lady”, they might have to get out the restraints for me, too.

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healthcare, politics, religion, wingnuts

The danger of tempting fate has never been as real as it is in the COVID-19 era…

The other day, I read that conservative wingnut pundit Rick Wiles, 67, who has said all kinds of nutty things about liberals and has condemned the COVID-19 vaccines as tools for “global genocide”, is now very sick with the virus. I have written about Rick Wiles before on this blog. He’s among the most rabid right wing crackpots on the airwaves today. I don’t pay a lot of attention to Rick, because most of what he says is preposterous. I have blogged about him a couple of times, when he’s said things that are especially ridiculous… and now it seems that he, along with a lot of other science deniers, is eating his words about COVID-19.

Yes, friends… Rick Wiles, Trump zealot, pastor of Flowing Springs Church in Vero Beach, Florida, host of TruNews, and overall whackjob, declared in late April that he would not get vaccinated against COVID-19, because he believes the shots are “global mass murder” perpetuated by Satan. Alas, Mr. Wiles is now begging for your prayers, because apparently, he’s one of the many people God doesn’t like. Of course, I don’t actually know what God thinks of Rick Wiles, or even if there is a God. I base that last statement on something Wiles himself has said about the coronavirus. He has repeatedly claimed that the vaccine is a plot to kill people, and that a lot of “stupid people” will be killed off by getting vaccinated against the disease.

In January 2020, Rick Wiles said COVID was God’s way of punishing China for its “godless communist government”. I wonder what he thinks now…

A couple of days ago, I noticed a link in the Duggar Family News group about Mr. Wiles and his newly acquired condition. It was the first I’d read about his experience with COVID-19. I was shocked to read that he believed the vaccines would be used to kill off 70% of the population. According to Newsweek.com, Wiles apparently based his theory, in part, on an article he read on Great Game India, “a website that promotes itself as a ‘journal on geopolitics and international relations’ and has published conspiracy theories on a variety of topics.” Great Game India’s comments were partially based on a paper put out by the United Kingdom’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational subgroup. In that paper, it was reported that “up to 70 percent of people who had both vaccine doses could die in the third wave of COVID infections.” However, what Mr. Wiles seems to have missed is that the 70 percent figure was never attributed to the efficacy of the vaccines. Rather, that number is reflective of “the high death toll among vaccinated individuals to the easing of restrictions and there being a large number of high-risk people being vaccinated.”

In other words, there could be more deaths among people who are already at a higher risk. That means a large number of older people who are unvaccinated, older people who are vaccinated but immunocompromised, and older people who are vaccinated, but still get sick despite being vaccinated, could possibly perish in a third wave. That figure has nothing whatsoever to do with the vaccines being ineffective. The 70 percent figure could be “the result of ‘uptake being so high’ among the higher risk group.” As we’ve seen recently, the COVID-19 virus is continually evolving and mutating, which is why the vaccines are so important. The more people get vaccinated, the fewer hosts are available for the virus to mutate. As it is, those of us who have been vaccinated will all probably need to get booster shots, although it’s not currently known when or how often the shots will be necessary.

Rick Wiles has been permanently banned from YouTube because he says things that are so controversial and hateful. I had not looked for him in awhile, so I was surprised this morning when I didn’t find his channel on the popular video sharing site. However, plenty of people on YouTube are still making videos about Rick Wiles and his lunacy. He also posts, and has been posted about, a lot on Twitter. Last week, Wiles had to be rushed to the emergency room, and he spent some time hospitalized because of the illness.

Will you survive, Rick?

This isn’t the first time I’ve read about a COVID-19 denier getting sick after publicly stating that the virus is a hoax. I remember in April 2020, reading about 45 year old Karen Kolb Selke, a woman who had, in March of last year, gone on Facebook to rant about how COVID-19 was a socialist plot to scare people into voting Donald Trump out of office. Three weeks later, she was dead, having contracted the virus herself.

There have been other stories about this phenomenon– people claiming that the virus is a “media hoax” or a “plandemic”, just to get Trump out of office and promote a “socialist” agenda. It’s a bunch of rubbish, of course. If it were only about removing Trump, COVID would not be killing people around the world. Moreover, vaccines of all kinds have saved so many lives and prevented disabilities in people. When my parents were growing up, polio was a real and scary threat to children. Thanks to the polio vaccine, later generations, including mine, did not have to worry about the disease. Ditto for measles, mumps, diphtheria, whooping cough, and rubella. Todays’ young people can get vaccinated against chickenpox and the human papilloma virus, which is thought to cause cervical cancer. Having had shingles as a young woman, I certainly wish I could have avoided being infected by varicella, which lurks in the body forever and waits for the opportunity to strike when you’re physically “rundown”, as I was after I came home from the Peace Corps and suffered from multiple skin infections. Unfortunately, it’s too late for me to avoid that fate.

One would think that the Trumpers might have changed their tunes over the past few months, but the crazies are still out there, peddling their bullshit. Just this morning, the actor Robbie Rist, shared this frightening post by Laurie Roth, Ph.D., who is the self-proclaimed “Annie Oakley of the Airwaves”. Based on this post, I can’t say I’m too impressed by her credentials… I can’t imagine why anyone with sense would want Trump in charge again. I get being conservative, but Trump isn’t like most conservatives.

WHAT?

The so-called “Annie Oakley of the Airwaves” continues with this follow up post on Facebook, which was posted on June 5th:

From False Narrative Dr. Laurie Roth

Apparently, my last article stating that President Trump had signed the Insurrection act in January 2021 and that the military was in control caused a Tsunami of reaction. This included Facebook tagging my article as a lie and false.

What does one do in a situation like this? Do I go to liar school, hide in the closet and never speak again? Do I disappear and accept the label and let the leftists win again?

What I did was call my connected military source again, who by the way knows a top General who is a man of honor and service as my source is. I told him the response of social networking controllers and Trump haters and one of their statements. “This can’t be true because it is not written anywhere and hasn’t been publicized.”

My source said, Trump didn’t have to publicize it to the media that has long been sold out to the America hating left. There is no law or rule that declares his signature and declaration of this act had to go to anywhere else but the Military.

Remember, the House and the Senate failed us and they were given the evidence of a stolen election The Supreme Court wouldn’t hear any case regarding it. They failed us also. So did numerous, liberal Governors and courts. There was only one choice left – the Insurrection Act.

As I said in my last article that got everyone’s knickers in a twist, it was President Trump’s duty to sign the Insurrection Act since it was already proven that other countries interfered and stole the Presidential 2020 election. It was also investigated thoroughly by our military who found the real numbers of the election. Trump boldly won the popular vote and the Electoral College.

It was their duty, then to acknowledge the Insurrection Act because of foreign influence and a sea of election crimes in this election. Trump did the only thing a real patriot would do and sign the act putting our military in charge.

Most in social media hate Trump, real freedom of speech. In their eyes, they know all, see all and are the 4th person of the Trinity. In truth, they are the sell outs and liars. If real Patriots are nothing but liars and conspiracy nuts these days, then I am proud to be one!

Think about it for a minute. Do you recall President Trump as the type of man who would just submissively accept the fact that hard core proof showed a landslide victory, that China and other countries coordinated the stealing of our election and he would just drink a beer and go golfing? Don’t believe that Trump would disappear and not fight for our country and justice for a second. We are in the biggest battle of our lives and much of it we cannot see…..yet.

It is so boringly like the left, to immediately call you all manner of names and scream with shrillness that you are lying. Hopefully, I would slither off and never talk again.

Truthfully, I should yell thank you from the rooftops since all they did was add fuel to my fire. I will scream the truth all the more. Remember, I survived, national talk radio for 15 years and was called every name there is. Believe what you will but pray and fight for your country. Stand. Great things are on the way and Justice is coming.

I don’t even know what to write about Laurie Roth’s nonsensical drivel. Does she actually believe this, or is this just about making money and a name for herself? I am relieved to read comments from people who see what I see… some straight up crazy bullshit conspiracy theories. She’s like “The Transformed Wife“, Lori Alexander, but for Trump zealots instead of Christian evangelical fundies.

In any case, I think it’s quite clear that COVID-19 is very real, and people had better get wise. I’m grateful Bill and I were able to get the vaccine. It doesn’t mean we won’t get sick from COVID-19 or anything else, but I am convinced that the vaccine will make it less likely that we’ll need to be hospitalized from the virus if we do get it. Frankly, I am surprised by how easy the shots were for me. Other than a little bit of a sore arm, I wasn’t affected at all. In fact, I recovered from “COVID arm” even faster with the second shot than I did the first. Bill did have a harder time with the second round, but it only lasted a day. Neither of us wants to lie in a hospital bed gasping for air from a viral infection as we prepare to depart life.

Posted on Twitter, May 31st.

I don’t wish death on Rick Wiles, and I am not rejoicing in the fact that he and some of his family members got sick with COVID-19. I have doubt that this experience will do much to change his mind about the crap he’s been spewing. But I do hope that his experience will serve as a wakeup call/moment of truth for his followers. Not getting vaccinated is a crazy gamble, even though I respect your right to self-determination. I would encourage you to learn from Rick and do your part to avoid spreading this disease. It’s definitely real.

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