Friday, June 26, 2009

Remote Rewind: Let's Start at the Beginning

This summer, PTR is taking a look back at a show that we adored before this site came into existence. We figured that just because it isn't airing new episodes anymore doesn't mean that we can't talk about it! And after all, PTR wasn't here when it originally aired, therefore, our coverage here will be (to borrow a phrase from NBC) "new to you." The show: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. The entire Dr. Quinn series is now available as one gigantic DVD box set, so if you're feeling nostalgic after reading PTR's thoughts, you can cuddle up in front of your TV and watch the eps all over again. Today, I'm starting at the beginning -- all the way back to where it started with a talented young doctor from Boston boarding a train bound for Colorado and a whole new, very different life.

I'm be lying if I said that the "Pilot" episode of DQ was what got me hooked. I was hooked from the first promo, but the premiere made me a fan. I was only 12 years old when the show hit the CBS airwaves in January of 1993. I had always loved westerns and strong female characters. I tuned in to the 2-hour pilot, and I knew I wouldn't be tuning out until this show aired its last episode. From the get-go, I was invested in Michaela's journey. She lost her father (the only person who believed in her and encouraged her to become a doctor at a time when women weren't doctors) and she left her comfortable life in Boston and headed almost across the country to the Colorado frontier and the small town of Colorado Springs. It wasn't an easy transition. To say that she was a "fish out of water" would be an understatement. She was overdressed, under-prepared and found it very difficult to make friends. To make matters worse, no one in town (except the very kind Charlotte Cooper) wanted a woman doctor. But Michaela Quinn wasn't one to cut her losses and head back to Boston -- she was a survivor, and a stubborn one at that.

Things quickly went from bad to worse. First she lost a "patient," which furthered the belief for her harshest critics that she was utterly incompetent. While trying to save local general store owner Loren Bray's wife from a pre-existing heart condition, she didn't have the proper medication to save her. Medication, it seemed, wasn't right at her fingertips as it had been in Boston. Next, Charlotte Cooper (the one person who had welcomed her) was bitten by a Rattlesnake. Dr. Mike stood by helpless as Charlotte slipped away in front of her three young children. She upheld Charlotte's deathbed plea and took the children in and began raising them as her own. Like the unpaved dirt roads in Colorado Springs, this too was a bumpy ride. But with a little time, the kids and Dr. Mike learned to rely on each other and by the end of the episode, they were beginning to feel like a family.

The single best moment of the entire 2-hour opener was one of Michaela's most embarrassing. In her fancy Boston attire, she fell and face-planted right into the mud in front of a group soldiers and a mountain man named Byron Sully. It was that fateful moment that gave birth to the heart and soul of DQ and one of TV's best romances. Sully was smitten and before he knew it, he was offering her his homestead and then joining Michaela's new family for dinner and even spending Christmas Eve with them. But, Sully had a tragic past (losing both his wife and child in childbirth) and he wasn't in a hurry to fall in love again. And Michaela was concerned with building a practice, taking care of her new family and learning the ropes of frontier living, so she too wasn't looking to fall in love. But you can't stop a speeding train as they were both about to learn. It took a trip back to Boston, a look at "the road not taken," and a lot of time and effort for the lesson to sink in. But, we'll cover that in future "Remote Rewind" installments.

Screencap courtesy Official DQMW Web site.

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