30 January 2005 | vertigo_14
Good while it lasted.
This show came around about the same time as another CBS drama called 'Family Law.' They had similar qualities as far as narrative arrangement, cast (as far as types of characters and the notoriety of the actors before coming on the show), and setting (California). This one, however, was a medical show while the latter was obviously a legal drama.
'L.A. Doctors' focused primarily on three doctors (Ken Olin, Matt Craven, and Rick Roberts) in a small, upscale California medical firm, thus already distinguishing it from its medical show predecessors as well as popular medical shows on other networks at the time (especially E.R.). The format made the stories much more personal, and slightly more dramatic than shows like E.R., where the dominating hospital setting carries you more into the technical aspect of the show, or limiting you to focus mostly on the patients, with whom you usually only have an episodic connection with (each episode presents a new set of patients and a new set of stories). Although, E.R. does also provide insight into the assorted affairs of its team of doctors, 'L.A. Doctors' was still able to draw you closer to its three main characters (later four, as Sheryl Lee joined the cast as a regular) because of the arrangement of the story. The patients never really dominated the story, although their assorted additions to the human interest side was often interesting, nonetheless. I think CBS was trying to give you a nighttime drama that, while it still captured the cliché of the only professions that network television dramas really pay attention to (law enforcement or doctors), was still able to provide more personal drama. The latter seemed to dominate, however, and the viewer becomes more absorbed into the doctor's affairs much more than the patients. Usually the opposite happens on E.R. and similar shows, or the patient and doctors dramas tend to get equal focus.
'L.A. Doctors' was a fresh show, especially considering the competing lineup (even outside of medical shows) for its day. It was often amusing at times and they didn't need a superficially beautiful, unrealistically young or well-known cast (as much of network television feels they do these days in the drama category) to make an interesting series of stories. Although, it was one show that CBS never hung on to long enough to toy with the format or the time slot in a way where the show could at least try to better develop a following. Eventually, the same thing happened to 'Family Law.'