March 27, 2011

Diagnosis: Humour With a Side-Kick of Quirky

"Diagnosis ... Ouch!"
It is only now, long after the series is over that I am occasionally sitting down to watch and enjoy the TV series "Diagnosis Murder" starring Dick Van Dyke as Dr Mark Sloan. I've always enjoyed a good mystery or a medical show (as long as they don't turn into soapy tripe) and in this program, they combined the two styles, and threw in one of my favourite actors, Dick Van Dyke as well.

The other night an episode entitled "Physician, Murder Thyself" aired and I sat gobsmacked at the group of doctors assembled on the screen in front of me. 

"Just a second!" I exclaimed to myself, "Wasn't that actor a famous doctor in another series? Hey, and didn't that fellow play a doctor in another program too? And that one?"

I was correct! There were in fact five other actors on the show playing the part of doctors in "Diagnosis Murder" who had played well-known doctors on other television programs. 

First on the list was Jack Klugman who played Dr Jeff Everden in this episode. Earlier he played the quite famous "Quincy MD" in the series of the same name.

Another actor was Bernie Kopell who played the role of Dr Les Franklin here, but was well-known as Dr Adam Bricker on "The Love Boat."

Then there was Chad Everett who on this episode played Dr Clayton Andrews, but acted in the television series "Medical Centre" as Dr Joe Gannon.

Then throw in Wayne Rogers who was Dr Kent Morrisay in this segment, but played the well-known Dr Trapper John in the TV series M*A*S*H.

And finally the actor Stuart Damon gained a short part as Dr Michael but was apparently the original Dr Alan Quartermaine on General Hospital!

I think the cast co-ordinator must have had the best time putting forward these suggestions to play the roles!

Patrick Macnee
When I investigated this phenomena, I discovered an ongoing sense of humour in a few other episodes of "Diagnosis Murder" as well, such as the episode called "Discards" where three well-known actors that have played the role of spies in other spy series all played together in this one episode, though not surprisingly as spies. Robert Vaughan was in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and Patrick Macnee was famous as Steed in the television series "The Avengers," and then there was Phil Morris who acted in the 1988 version of "Mission Impossible."

I've heard of an episode of "Diagnosis Murder" called "Food Fight" in which six actors from "Happy Days" or its spin-off programs all appeared including, Pat Morita, Don Most, Erin Moran, Leslie Easterbrook, Conrad Janis and David Lander.

And the comedy continued with the "Drill for Death" episode where five actors from either the movie or the TV series M*A*S*H had roles such as Loretta Swit, William Christopher, Jamie Farr, Sally Kellerman and Elliot Gould.

Bill Mumy
Finally, there was the episode "Alienated" which is supposed to be about an alien abduction. Let's start with the director of this particular episode, Bruce Seth Green was a Director of the science-fiction TV series "Babylon 5" and acted in the series "Roswell." Then another unmistakable sci-fi link were the actors Walter Koenig who played Chekov in the original "Star Trek" series, George Takei who was Sulu in the same series, and the actor Majel Barrett who was the real-life wife of the "Star Trek" series creator Gene Roddenberry. Combine them with the actor Wil Wheaton who played Wesley Crusher on the "Star Trek: Next Generation" series and also Bill Mumy who acted as Will Robinson in "Lost in Space." And finally there was Grace Lee Whitney who played the role of Yeoman Janice Rand, personal assistant to Captain James T Kirk in the original "Star Trek" series and in fact appear in no less than four of the Star Trek movies and even played one role in a "Star Trek: Voyager" episode.

Now THAT'S an episode of "Diagnosis Murder" I'd love to see, just for the fun of it! It's almost like the people involved in creating the "Diagnosis Murder" series had the best fun, occasionally adding in an extra entertaining episode for its faithful and delighted viewers.

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