Medical Drama

The doctor on television is desperately giving CPR to a character who’s only just been introduced in this episode, not even a special guest star but someone you vaguely recognize as having played the husband of the woman who was killed on the legal show and maybe the paramedic from the other medical drama, the one that was cancelled, but in this universe he lies supine on the table as the doctor pounds his chest with locked arms and laced hands in that grotesquely sexual rhythm, but the machine is beeping one long beep and the camera is cutting between the expressive eyes of the nurses, flitting back and forth above the white squares of their surgical masks as they silently begin to acknowledge and accept the imminent death of this not even special guest star, but the doctor does not accept it, and you see how doctors, as rendered by this actor, who himself you recognize from eighties movies and television shows–the high school students and handymen and even the dead fighter pilots of the eighties have grown up to be doctors; their fictional mothers are proud–how doctors who battle mortality on a daily basis actually do this as much with brute force as hard science, but the long flat beep will not subside, it will not interrupt itself with the regular peaks and valleys, beeps and silences that even we lay viewers at home know mean we are alive, it is going BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP and we have charged the paddles to two hundred, we have charged the paddles to three hundred, we have shocked the not even special guest star and his body has gone rigid and limp on the table, but to no avail, and now all there is is the long BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP and what has become the mechanical, muttered “c’mon” of this once and future fighter pilot, the true test of his acting skill being whether he can deliver this “c’mon” with just the right mix of gruffness and desperation, “c’mon, c’mon” because maybe this is not just any patient, but a patient this doctor has developed some particular affinity for, maybe even a patient he has made the ill-advised promise to save, the power of life being his to give and take, and the desire to wield this power and the crushing responsibility of wielding it and the continual realization that it is not a power he holds alone or completely is what gives this medical drama its emotional gravitas, because he is a complex man who grapples daily with mortality and suffers the consequent blunting of feeling necessary to hone his considerable skills, but is also capable of crazed, passionate moments that hint at the carefully–but not necessarily deeply–hidden well of molten lava-like emotion that stews in this doctor’s very own beating, beeping heart, because of this all-too-divinely human mess that is the doctor’s own insides and the will of this living mass of tissue, the fighting spirit of this electrified meat that this actor playing this doctor has transmitted to us with surprising clarity through the sheen of his makeup and the shouting of the commercials, because it is not going to accept death, not today, not on his table, as the calmest and yet somehow most complicated nurse goes to switch off the machine that is going BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP and the other doctor who maybe this doctor is fucking, (ten or even five years ago he might have been fucking the nurse, but now he is fucking the female doctor, and maybe she is his superior), when they are in bed we see just how passionate and fiery are his lava-like emotions and sometimes just how smooth and firm are his still less well-hidden buttocks, she is putting her gloved hand gently on his gowned arm, she is murmuring his name, she trying to break his trance, and he is pumping the not even special guest’s star’s chest with a little less regularity and force, and on high-definition television screens of considerable diagonal measurements droplets of sweat are visible as they fly from the doctor’s brow and explode on a forelock that has broken free of his whimsically printed surgical cap and entered the sterile field, and it begins to hang more limply as the doctor begins to realize that the not even special guest star is lost, and we know watching at home that medical drama has advanced in realism to the point where it is altogether possible that he will be lost, the emotional stakes of medical drama now include the possibility that we might attach to a not even special guest star in the first half of the show, come to identify with his plight and admire his bravado in the face of death, and he might die today, on this table, and now the doctor is giving up, he stands still, he looks numb, he looks up at the stainless steel clock to do what we know from watching medical drama is “call it,” because it is his responsibility to “call it,” and we expect him to say, in an expressionless voice that somehow conveys feeling, “Time of Death twelve-forty-one PM” and rip off his gloves and storm out of the room to collect himself and tell the family of the not even special guest star that their loved one is dead, an event that may be shot through the window, from the p.o.v. of one of the nurses or the doctor this doctor is fucking, so we cannot hear, only see the other not even special guest stars playing the family of the dead not even special guest star cry out silently in anguish, or perhaps it will be shot through the window but the anguished outcry of the wife/child/mother of the not even special guest star will be the only thing we can hear, albeit muted and distant, but just as he is about to “call it” the doctor once again does not give in, does not accept the death of this not even special guest star, and he cocks his arm back as if he is holding a hammer and pounds with one fist on the chest of the dead man, not so much a medical maneuver as a gesture of frustration and violence, and this blow lands with a fleshy thump, a sound that comes to rest at the same time as the preverbal grunt of the doctor that accompanied the enormous physical effort of raising his CPR-fatigued arm and striking his patient on the chest, and these sounds are followed by a split-second of silence, and then by the sound of the beeps resuming on the beeping machine, which everyone in the room looks up at in disbelief until one of them states obviously, joyously, “we have a rhythm!”, and the not even special guest star lives.

Leave A Comment