Tuesday, March 25, 2008


'Ben Casey' was a medical drama from the early 1960s, one with an earnest and dedicated young doctor who often found himself at odds with the system or even with the patient. ('Dr. Kildare' starring Richard Chamberlain was comparable.)

And the same holds true for the TV Universe. Several TV series of the time, who were sharing the same dimension as 'Ben Casey', made mention of the TV series AS a TV series. This came to mind on Easter Sunday as I watched my recording of 'Burke's Law' from the night before on the American Life Network. (With my poor note-taking, I can't remember exactly why Captain Amos Burke cited the series in the episode "Who Killed Cornelius Gilbert?", but hopefully it'll come to me.)

Some other shows who made mention of 'Ben Casey' were 'The Monkees' (in which Peter once invoked the famous opening phrase of "Man, Woman, Birth, Death, Infinity"), 'The Nanny' (a character was compared to Dr. Casey), and the aforementioned 'Burke's Law'.

I would have liked to posit the theory that the televersion of the 'Ben Casey' TV show was a reality show in which Dr. Ben Casey actually appeared as himself. However, it was an episode of 'Nurses' from 1993 that puts the kibosh to that idea. In "No, But I Played One On TV", Vince Edwards (who played Casey in the original show) appeared as himself, along with Larry Linville (Dr. Frank Burns on 'M*A*S*H') and Chad Everett (Dr. Gannon on 'Medical Center'). And during that episode, there were several mentions of Edwards as having played Casey.

So not only was there a Toobworld TV show called 'Ben Casey', but the televersion of Vince Edwards played the role. And that means that Ben Casey and Vince Edwards shared the same dimension - much like Peter Falk ('The Larry Sanders Show') and Lt. 'Columbo' and Daniel J. O'Brien ('The Trials Of O'Brien').

The "real" Ben Casey must have done something extraordinary as a young medico to warrant the attention to create a show around him. Perhaps in some unseen (by us) episode of his life, Casey saved the life of somebody famous. Perhaps even the President! That would certainly have garnered him the type of national attention that would have brought network suits sniffing around to create a show about him.
(And it would be typical of Toobworld to insert a fictional character into an historical event. In this case, if Casey had been involved with the medical needs of the President, it probably happened while Dwight Eisenhower was the POTUS. He ended up in the hospital while he was in office at least three times: with a heart attack in 1955, an abdominal operation to remove 16 gall bladder stones in 1956, and for a 1957 stroke.)

It doesn't have to be involvement in the medical history of President Eisenhower, of course. Any headline-grabbing medical emergency would do......

Meanwhile, no matter what was happening to the TV-TV version of Ben Casey, the "real" Dr. Casey (as seen in the real world TV show) continued his medical practice, ignoring the national attention he was getting. This is O'Bvious since it's never mentioned within the real TV series, which is "real life" for Toobworld, that his life had been fictionalized for TV.

Confusing, ain't it?

'Ben Casey' was also a TV series in a new alternate dimension I'm exploring - that in which our TV shows are TV shows as well, but when we see the behind-the-scenes work that went into creating these shows, the actors look different. This is a TV dimension in which we find these fictionalized docu-dramas about how certain TV shows were made. (I'm doing this because of a British TV movie called "The Curse of Steptoe" with Jason Isaacs.)

In this case, 'Ben Casey' was mentioned in the TV movie "Surviving Gilligan's Island: The Incredibly True Story Of The Longest Three Hour Tour In History".

Dr. Casey himself came back to cement his place in the TV Universe with a TV movie in 1988, "The Return Of Ben Casey". A few years later, Captain Amos Burke did the same with a new series of 'Burke's Law'.....

Toby OB

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