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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is family entertainment at its finest. The show’s historical setting (post-Civil War Colorado) lets viewers step back in time to see how issues like politics, gender roles, and race relations were handled then, and there are plenty of opportunities to relate what you observe in the show to how those same issues stand today. Personal empowerment is central to the show, as are strong family values like responsibility, honesty, compassion, and respect. Changing gender and family roles are examined in a thoughtful manner. This series is suitable for most of the family, although young kids may need some explanations about the discrepancies between what they see and what they’re used to life being like.
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What's the story?
DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN is set in the 1860s, with adventurous female physician Michaela “Mike” Quinn (Jane Seymour) leaving her native Boston and settling in the frontier town of Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she attempts to win the trust of the townspeople. Although most of them dismiss her abilities because she’s a woman, she finds friends in an outdoorsman named Byron Sully (Joe Lando) and in Charlotte Cooper (Diane Ladd), a local midwife whose sudden death makes Dr. Mike the adoptive mother of her three children, Matthew (Chad Allen), Colleen (Erika Flores and Jessica Bowman), and Brian (Shawn Toovey). Later episodes follow Dr. Mike and Sully’s developing relationship and eventual marriage.
Is it any good?
Expertly cast and beautifully scripted, this engaging historical drama deserves a spot atop families’ viewing lists. Each episode is rich in positive family values, and the characters’ problems -- although set amid the backdrop of post-Civil War America -- still are relatable today. Illness, financial uncertainty, death, political disputes, teen rebellion, changing gender roles, and racial tension are just some of the townspeople’s struggles, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman promotes family and community ties as the base of the characters’ strength in coping with each one.
Even more noticeable than what’s included in the show is the absence of what’s not, namely crudity, sex, and violence. You’ll find none of that here, but you will see firm parenting with loving undertones, kids who respect their elders, the happy results of community-mindedness, and sweet relationships that blossom into love without the pressures of physical intimacy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the setting of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. What aspects of life were different during the 1860s? What similarities did you notice? Was anything about the characters’ lifestyles appealing to you? In what ways was that a simpler time than now?
How has technological progress changed how we relate to other people? How has our means of communication changed through the years? Do you think communication is better or worse now than it was before cell phones and the Internet? Why? What new concerns do these forms of communication raise?
One of the recurring issues in this show is the relationship between white people and Native Americans. How does that situation compare to race relations in modern society? Have we gotten better at respecting our differences? Do you think the media presents race relations -- both historically and in modern times -- with accuracy?
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