Friday, February 20, 2015

Cheesy 80s era law and medical shows...

I got bored yesterday and started reminiscing about the truly crappy TV that was on during the daytime back in the 80s.  There were a slew of court shows like Divorce Court, The Peoples' Court, Superior Court and a curious dramatized invention called The Judge.

I actually found a video of The Judge on YouTube.  This was a very cheesy show that starred the late Bob Shields as Judge Robert J. Franklin, who prayed each day that God would give him the courage to always temper justice with mercy.

This is too contrived for words, but it passed for entertainment when I was a teenager.

"Judge Franklin" presided over dramatized actual court cases.  The acting was over the top and overly saccharine.  Sometimes the shows were interesting enough.  At least Judge Franklin was nicer than Judge Judy is.  The Judge was actually a local show in an Ohio market for many years before it turned into a successful syndicated program.

The Peoples' Court starring the one and only Judge Wapner...  This was the mother of all court TV shows.

The Peoples' Court was a very popular show back in the day, though most of the cases had to do with small claims.  I preferred court cases with a little more drama.  

A promo for Superior Court, which was also a dramatized court show, though not as comfortingly cheesy as The Judge was.

First part of an episode of Superior Court.  I love the dramatic theme music.

In the 80s, there was also a very low budget show about medicine called Family Medical Center.  It starred three actors posing as family doctors.  A lot of the cases had to do with couples or kids and each case ended with the patient making a full recovery.  I remember one episode was about a 16 year old girl named Chelsea Greene (played by Julie Condra, who was later on The Wonder Years).  She was a dancer with anorexia nervosa.  She had an intense father, a weepy mother, and a difficult older sister who caused grief in the family.  My guess is that whomever wrote the script read Steven Levenkron's book, The Best Little Girl In The World.  That same book made a convenient basis for an old episode of Fame, also having to do with anorexia.

Fame episode about anorexia nervosa.

It doesn't seem like the 80s were that long ago, but shit-- that episode of Fame was originally broadcast about 30 years ago!  Putting that in perspective, in 1985, 30 years ago meant 1955!  1955 seemed like eons before 1985, but 1985 does not seem to be like eons ago in 2015.  But maybe it's because I'm now getting old.  Still, while I can imagine some of these lurid, tawdry 80s era shows on TV today, they never would have seen the light of day in 1955.

There was another, even cheesier, show in the 80s called Group One Medical.  But it was so unmemorable that I've only found mere mentions of it online.  I remember it to be a drier version of Family Medical Center, which at least had a soap opera thing going for it.

Nowadays, you get Dr. Phil and The Doctors on day TV.  And Judge Judy, of course, is still around.  I find her show pretty unbearable to watch because she's so rude to people.  On the other hand, sometimes people ask for her rudeness by being colossally stupid or self-centered.

Divorce Court is still on TV, though it's not like it was in the 80s.  In the 80s, Divorce Court was dramatized.  Nowadays, it seems to be about real cases.

Oh my GOD... this 80s version episode of Divorce Court is just cheesier than words!  

This is a much more recent episode.  Note the differences!

It's probably a good thing I don't have access to TV here.  I'd probably spend way too much time watching trash.  It's bad enough I can hit up YouTube for garbage from the 80s.  



  1. I didn't enjoy any of the reenacted judge programs, most of which I've seen on my aunt's supply that she's converted from VHS cassettes to DVDs. Most of what I've seen of Judge Wapner's incarnation of The People's Court I've seen through my aunt's private stash as well. I found the man, may he rest in peace (I assume he must have moved on by now) to be most arrogant in his position. I don't know how much of my perception of his arrogance was at the direction of his production staff, or how much was the real Joseph Wapner coming through loudly and clearly, but I can say that had I ever appeared in his court for any reason - as a juror if it wasn't small-claims court, as a mere spectator, or as an actual litigant or witness in some capacity, had his demeanor been anything resembling that which he displayed on a regular basis on TV show, not only would I have voted against him in his next election; I might possibly have waged an active campaign against him in favor of whomever I considered to be his most worthy opponent.

    Judge Judy, too, displays arrogance, though I find that she has considerably more substance on which to back up her arrogance. I suspect that she has powers of discernment beyond that possessed by ordinary people, or even ordinary judges. I also surmise that some of what might appear to be snap judgments on her part based upon little more than whimsy or dislike of a litigant;s clothing are, in actuality, based on questioning that ended up on a cutting room floor.

    My criticism of Judge Judy is that she sometimes lacks the ability to empathize with the common man or woman. in one particular instance, she was holding and looking at the engagement ring that was the subject of a particular court dispute. As she examined the ring from various angles, she commented, "It's not exactly the hope Diamond, is it?" Had she been mediating a dispute between wealthy litigants, i could have understood or even laughed at her observation. This young splitting couple was not wealthy, however. Exactly how did Judge Judy think the couple should have gone about procuring a diamond that would have met with her approval? should the young man have gone heavily into debt. should one or both of them have robbed a liquor store? Instead of disparaging the size and quality of the diamond in the ring the young man had purchased for his then-fiancee, I felt that it would have been more appropriate for her to have praised the young man for his judgment in making a purchase that was within his financial means. With people declaring bankruptcy right and left and indirectly passing the costs along to all of the rest of us, she should have appreciated his self-restraint.

    Judge Judy would probably likewise be disgusted by the size and quality of the diamond in the engagement ring my father bought my mother when he proposed to my mom while he was still in medical school. The ring was all he could afford on the money he earned as a touring back-up musician in the summers between his semesters of medical school. The money also had to pay his tuition, or much of it, and provide his living expenses as well. He has since bought my mother a much more elaborate and expensive diamond ring, but she wears it on her right ring finger. What means much more to her is the ring he chose and purchased with every cent he could afford at the time of their engagement. I don't know if Judge Judy understands things like this -- that there are things in life more important than the extrinsic value of a ring.

  2. Another example of Judge Judy's lack of relation to the common man and of how most people in the real world live came up in her questioning of a man who described some aspect of a celebratory party he hosted for his son, who had graduated from high school. I cannot recall whether the DJ had failed to materialize and/or render the proper service, or if the caterer had failed to provided the food that was contractually agreed upon, but the dispute was something to that effect. Judge Judy was somewhat berating the man for providing any party of any sort for a child's mere high school graduation. The man explained that the son was the first person in modern history of the family to have completed high school in the traditional manner and had graduated along with his class.

    "You certainly set lofty academic expectations in your family," or something to that effect, Judge Judy snarked at the man.

    The man held his own, I thought. "It was a big deal to us," the man defended without betraying any shame whatsoever.

    I don't remember how the case was resolved. I merely remember being a bit embarrassed on behalf of the man that Judge Judy could not understand his pride in his son's having accomplished what other members of the family who had preceded him had not achieved. And I think Judge Judy, in her sarcasm and sense of elitism, succeeded in making herself look much more foolish than, which was per presumable intent, caused the man to look.

    Judge Judy, while she may never have expressed it in so many words, likes to perceive herself as having grown up in a middle-of-the-middle-class family and in being some sort of self-made woman. Her father was a dentist - in Brooklyn, I think. While being raised in the depression by a dentist and his stay-at-home wife would not have placed the family in the upper echelons of society, neither would they have been considered the dead-solid center of the middle class. She even, despite no apparent talent or gift for the art, took dance lessons as a child, which would have been a rarity at the time.

    Judge Judy presumably, at the very least had her undergraduate education financed by her parents. She may or may not have needed to take out loans for law school, but, as a woman of her generation, was an anomaly both financially and socially by virtue of even being granted the opportunity to complete a bachelor's degree. She would do well to consider herself as the fortunate soul she is and not to look down her nose quite so far as those whose lives have been less well-endowed as hers has been.

    Of course, to me the gold standard always has been and always will be Judge Alex. The production company was foolish to have canceled his show; nothing currently out there even comes close to what it was.

    Incidentally, I mentioned something about JA's brother-in-law John in a tweet PM to him. He was most interested in knowing how in the world I knew his brother-in-law John. I explained about my friend Knotty and how she was a friend of John's and that she had directed him to a particular blog I had written.. I was concerned the judge might think I was stalking him by seeking out his relatives, but it seems that was the very least of his concerns. He was just quite curious as to how the connection had been made.

    1. John shares with us an interest in Mormonism.

      I don't like Judge Judy's show. She's way too bitchy for my taste and she has little empathy for stepparents.

      I did used to like The Judge when I was a teenager, though I find it pretty cringeworthy now. I'd love to find an episode of Family Medical Center. I used to have some on VHS tapes.

  3. My mom says she's never heard of "Family Medical Center," though she watched "Medical Center" with Chad Everett when she was about four and deliberately jumbed off the top of a very high slide to hurt herself (broke an ankle) just because she thought the doctor might be like him. She got, instead, the grouchiest old military doctor on the planet. i always have that one to throw at her when she harasses me for bone-headed maneuvers,

    1. "Family Medical Center" was very low budget and only came on during the daytime. I think in our market, it was on at 10:00am. I used to tape it because I was fascinated by it. But it was very poorly acted and cheesy. I remember on one episode, a woman had a psychotic break in front of one of the doctors and was given a shot of something. In another, there was a kid who had mono that had enlarged his spleen. He was an athlete and wanted to play sports, but the doctor benched him because he might get injured and bleed out.

      It could have been a good show had it been better scripted and acted. As it was, it was not even as good as "The Judge" was.

  4. i had my spleen removed because it was dangerously enlarged due to mono a couple of years ago.


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