What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this medical drama has mature themes, strong language, and sometimes-graphic footage. The hospital setting means that death and terminal illness are commonplace, and life-threatening injuries from (among other things) shootings and stabbings are shown -- though usually quickly and from a distance. Content often delves into the characters' love affairs, emotional instability, and addictions. Some doctors come across as insensitive when they're out of patients' earshot (making bets on when one will die, for instance). Racism, sexism, homosexuality, and medical ethics are all dealt with.
What's the story?
CHICAGO HOPE follows the tumultuous ups and downs in the personal and professional lives of the medical staff of a private charity hospital in the Windy City. Created by David E. Kelley (Boston Legal), the critically acclaimed series ran for six seasons and went through many cast changes during its run. Early episodes starred Mandy Patinkin as Dr. Jeffrey Geiger, a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon who struggled with his wife's mental incapacity; Hector Elizondo as Dr. Phillip Watters, whose personal life was also full of tragedy; and Adam Arkin as neurosurgeon Dr. Aaron Shutt, while later seasons featured new characters like recovering gambling addict Dr. Jack McNeil (Mark Harmon), straight-talking Dr. Billy Kronk (Peter Berg), charitable Dr. Dennis Hancock (Vondie Curtis-Hall), and heart surgeon Dr. Kate Austin (Christine Lahti). Each episode follows a handful of cases that raise tricky ethical questions for the doctors and nurses who treat them. And paralleling the medical drama are the soap opera-like storylines focusing on the cast's chaotic personal lives, which include homosexuality, addiction, family tragedy, and a virtual gridlock of love triangles.
Is it any good?
While it's not as gripping as its better-known counterpart, ER, Chicago Hope's strong character-based drama makes it fairly compelling -- though its mature content and occasional graphic trauma make it iffy for young teens.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the enduring popularity of medical dramas. What's the appeal? Do you think real-life hospitals and doctors deal with this level of trauma and drama on a regular basis? How are today's medical dramas similar to and different from this one? Families can also discuss emotional hardships. What challenges do the characters on the show have to cope with? How do they respond? Who did they turn to for support or guidance? What are some of the most difficult situations you've been through? Did you face it alone? How did you respond? Families can also identify the ethical questions raised in each episode and discuss their feelings about them. Did you agree with how the characters resolved their quandary? How would you have handled it?