Summary for "Chicago Hope," the Premiere

From BevSouth@aol.comSat Apr 22 20:53:40 1995
Date: Sat, 22 Apr 1995 21:35:19 -0400
Subject: Summary, CH Premier

This summary was written by MFLloyd (Manuela Lloyd) and edited by BevSouth
(Beverly Blackwell). We share responsibility for all grammatical and
continuity errors, but all opinions are that person's alone.

CHICAGO HOPE, Season 1, Episode 1.1, Premiere, "Chicago Hope"
Written by David E. Kelley; Directed by Michael Pressman
Original Air date, September 18, 1994 (repeated October 17, 1994; January 30,

PRELUDE: GET TA KNOW ME! Dr. Jeffery Geiger is weaving his Mercedes Benz in
and out of heavy traffic, laying bets with his bookie on his car phone and
singing along with the radio. Arriving at Chicago Hope Hospital, Geiger
rushes into Radiology, interrupting the nervous complaints of one Mr.
Collito, who is being prepped for an MRI, while Dr. Aaron Shutt tries to calm
Collito's nerves. Greeting Shutt, Geiger asks, "She filed for divorce? You're
barely separated and she Pearl Harbors you with papers?" Shutt puts him off,
pointing out the obvious fact that he has a patient, while Geiger thumps on
the MRI tube and continues, "Camille is Chief OR nurse. She should be fired
immediately. You're Chief of Neurosurgery." When Geiger is suddenly paged to
Operating Room 3, he grabs Shutt and drags him along, saying "That's
Thurmond." Telling the confused Mr. Collito to hold on, Shutt and Geiger rush
off. Shutt is calm as they charge down the hall, while Geiger angrily
denounces Thurmond: "He's too long in the tooth  . . .  I don't care if he is
a legend." Both doctors apparently feel that Arthur Thurmond has no business
going anywhere near a patient any more. "We'll fix it," Shutt responds. In
the OR they find Dr. Arthur Thurmond trying to resuscitate a patient in
arrest, but refusing to relinquish his authority. As Geiger and Shutt push
aside an astonished Thurmond, Shutt explains that they were paged by Dr.
Watters. Geiger performs a thoracotomy, telling Thurmond that he will get
full credit for the procedure, especially if the patient dies. With his hands
in the patient's chest, Geiger remarks, "This heart feels broken, maybe his
wife filed, huh?" Looking directly into Camille Shutt's eyes, he asks, "So
Camille . . . honey . . . what's new." 

PLOT ONE: WILL YOU STILL NEED ME WHEN I'M 64? Outside the operating room,
Shutt tells Dr. Phillip Watters, Chief of Surgery, that Thurmond had nicked
the aortic arch during surgery. Thurmond is furious, ranting that Watters " .
. .  exacerbated the crisis by bringing in these two punks," and stomping
off. Watters instructs Geiger to write a report on the situation, deciding to
deal with Thurmond later. In the surgeons' locker room, a rumpled Geiger,
throwing on his shirt and fingering the buttons, apologizes to Thurmond,
saying that what he did was necessary, and that "First you're going to deal
with me." Thurmond angrily responds, "It wasn't necessary for you to enjoy
it, you arrogant bastard."

Meeting in Watters' office, Geiger and Alan Birch, the hospital's lawyer,
argue about removing Thurmond from the surgical rotation while Watters looks
on, seated calmly behind his desk, and Geiger paces while he unwraps a
Twinkie, first offering it to Alan, then tossing it in the wastebasket before
Alan can even answer. Birch doesn't believe it uncommon for a surgeon to nick
an aorta, but Geiger is aware that filing a written report could expose the
hospital to liability. Knowing that Geiger isn't exactly fond of him, Birch
makes it personal: "You want to vilify me, go ahead. I'm the lawyer. The
Snake, isn't that what you call me?" After Watters corrects Birch, "I believe
it's the Eel," Alan glares at them, "This is not respect." Geiger continues
to insist that they should be addressing Thurmond's mistake and future
prevention, rather than covering it up. The resulting argument makes it
apparent that since Thurmond is one of the country's most prominent surgeons,
no one would suspect or be able to prove malpractice, which doesn't change
the fact that Thurmond's shaky, 76-year-old hands butchered a patient's main

As Watters leaves the room to make his way toward Thurmond's office, Birch
continues to demand that Watters do something about Thurmond, but Watters
ignores him when he sees Camille. Birch finally erupts, "This is not
respect." With Camille, Watters expresses his concern that the estranged
couple will have trouble performing in the OR, but Camille assures him that
they're both professionals and that in the OR, Aaron will be just fine; she
does finally suggest that Phillip might take him out for a beer sometime.

Watters finds Thurmond in his office, playing the piano, an exercise he
believes will help his dexterity. Watters tells him that he a meeting has
been scheduled the next day for the Executive Committee to discuss the
incident. Thurmond asks him to name one surgeon who hasn't nicked an artery,
but when Watters asks Thurmond to hold out his hands and keep them still, he
is unable to do so. Insisting that it's only a resting tremor, Thurmond asks
Watters to slap the letter opener into his hand like it was a scalpel; when
it hits his hand, the trembling immediately stops. Thurmond doesn't hesitate
to play his trump card: reminding Watters that he was responsible for forcing
the committee to accept Watters as the Chief of Surgery because he excelled
at both politics and surgery. "You know what my name means to the hospital,"
Thurmond argues. "I'm less concerned with your name than with your hands,"
Watters replies. Leaving the room while the outraged Thurmond shouts, "How
dare you!", Watters simply reminds him of the Executive Committee meeting the
next day.

That night, Thurmond sits before his fireplace at home, lost in thought. His
worried wife comes to sit beside him, but in response to her inquiry,
Thurmond simply tells her that there was a complication in surgery that day,
but the patient is fine. "Not to worry, mother, I just have to obsess," he
tells her, kissing her hand. 

In the Executive Committee meeting, Watters argues his case for removing
Thurmond from the OR rotation, reminding everyone that Thurmond is an elderly
man whose tremors will only get worse; why wait for a tragedy? An angry
Thurmond, seated across the table from Watters, responds," You can certainly
wait longer than you have. I made this hospital. I'm responsible for the
federal grants that built this surgical institution. I'm the reason every
medical graduate student wants to train here. And I'm certainly the reason
for you. Now, I damn well deserve the courtesy of your presumption." Watters
tries to soothe Thurmond, saying that it isn't personal, but Thurmond
disagrees, "It's personal, you tell me that I can't operate, it's personal."
Trevor, on the Board of Trustees, tells Thurmond that no one is telling him
that he can't operate, and that if the results of a full physical exam are
fine, "we'd remain honored to have you perform in this hospital." Thurmond
seems placated when he leaves the room, though he does so with an angry
glance toward Watters.

PLOT TWO: ONE LIFE TO LIVE. Dr. Aaron Shutt and his personal assistant,
Angela, are racing down the corridor toward Aaron's office while Angela
updates his messages and busy schedule -- depositions, court appearances, and
it seems that the PBS show "Nova" has called again, asking for his profile,
but he doesn't want to do it. Angela also informs him that several insurance
companies are again refusing to cover his patients, claiming that Shutt is
too expensive, then relays her response to them: that Shutt is "cheaper than
Mayo and better."

A distraught Camille paces in Angela's office, just outside Aaron's. Greeting
Aaron, Camille admits that she should have told him first before filing the
divorce papers, but she's been trying to contend with her own pain, and
didn't feel strong enough to take on his pain, too. Finally confessing to
Aaron that she doesn't believe the separation is working and she doesn't want
them to get back together, she concedes, "The hope for me is divorce." Aaron,
anguished, can barely choke out, "Is there someone else?" Camille replies,
'No, it's just not you." Shutt tells her that he has an appointment and that
they will talk later.

Mrs. and Mrs. Joseph Collito are seated in Aaron's office, nervously awaiting
the results of Mr. Collito's tests, even while Mr. Collito complains about
his treatment in the MRI  tube. Shutt tells them that Mr. Collito's dizziness
and the funny taste in his mouth are being caused by a large brain tumor, but
that it is entirely operable, which he would like to do as soon as possible,
although his one big concern is that the tumor is located in the temporal
lobe near the language center. The Collitos seem to be shocked at this news,
since they only came in for tests, but Shutt tells them that if the tumor
gets any larger, it will affect Mr. Collito's speech -- and by the way, it
could be malignant. "Just like that, you want to cut into my head?" a
bewildered Mr. Collito asks.

Aaron later describes the procedure to Mr. Collito, proudly showing off a new
piece of equipment he'll be using, an ultrasonic scalpel that vibrates 23,000
times per second, sucking out the tumor as it liquefies the aberrant tissue.
Shutt assures him that although he has never used this particular piece of
equipment, it is very similar to others he has used. Mr. Collito tells Aaron
that he likes to see how things work, asking to hold the scalpel while it's
turned on, as Aaron flips the switch -- but the scalpel runs for only a few
seconds, then stops. Shutt pounds on the machine, then sheepishly realizes
that the plug has dropped out of the wall socket. Aaron promises Mr. Collito
that it won't happen during surgery, but Mr. Collito nevertheless looks skepti

The next day, Mr. Collito is wheeled toward surgery, seemingly with all eyes
upon him. Outside the OR, he shows Shutt photographs of his wife and
grandchildren, hoping to impress upon the surgeon that he is a person, not
just tissue. He asks Shutt, "You got a family, doc?" Shutt, standing next to
his estranged wife, murmurs "Yeah," without looking at her. He quickly
assures Mr. Collito that he has practiced with the ultrasonic scalpel.

In the hushed OR, with only the quiet sounds of whispering voices, Aaron and
his team discover that Mr. Collito's tumor is a malignant Grade 3
Astro-cytoma. Shutt asks for "the toy" and begins to apply it to the tumor,
telling his team to make a note to inform the company's representatives that
although the grip is too thin, it "rides smooth."

PLOT THREE: CUTTING THE TIES THAT BIND. Watters has approached Geiger with a
file on a new patient -- actually two patients, Siamese twins, conjoined at
the abdomen, sharing a liver -- and a proposal for their  eparation. A
Pediatric Transplant specialist, Dr. Karen Antonovich will be arriving at
Chicago Hope soon, and Watters wants Geiger to head the team. "You're nuts,"
says Geiger. Watters is confident, though: "If anybody can do it, we can;
specifically you." Geiger wants to know who will decide which twin to save,
since "I'm not playing God." When Watters tells him that the parents and Dr.
Antonovich believe both children can be saved, Geiger wonders if the
pediatric surgeon is crazy. He also cannot believe that the hospital's
governing body is permitting the separation, then learns that Watters hasn't
taken it to the committee for approval yet.

Trevor, a member of the Board of Trustees has learned of the proposed
separation, and informs Watters that the operation cannot proceed without the
Trustees' approval. Watters makes him a deal: if Trevor will run the red tape
for him on the twins, Watters will abide by the decision of the board. But
when the Trustees refuse to grant permission for the separation, Watters is
infuriated at their reasoning: because the twins and their parents are
uninsured, the separation would cost Chicago Hope at least two million
dollars, one for the operation and another million for aftercare. An
increasingly frustrated Watters finally asks, "Why don't we apply some of the
teaching funds we'll continue to receive by retaining the legendary, but
incompetent Dr. Thurmond? I don't appreciate exalting hospital politics over
patient care." Trevor tries to rationalize the Trustee's decision -- the
hospital must look at the big picture, and others who might suffer because
the hospital is exhausting its resources "on a futile philanthropic quest" --
but Watters is thinking of two baby girls who will be forced to share a
lifetime of suffering. Moving toward the door, Watters responds angrily,
"We're doctors! I'm declaring this an emergency procedure; for that I don't
need Trustee approval. I held those babies in my arms! We're doing it.
Meeting over!"

Watters and Dr. Karen Antonovich are viewing x-rays of the conjoined twins
when Geiger arrives. Watters has barely introduced them before the argument
begins: what possibility is there to save both babies? Antonovich insists
that the operation can be done. Smiling, Geiger leaves the room, telling
Watters, "I don't like her  . . .  " then glances at Antonovich, "Nice to
meet you." Watters explains to Antonovich that "He'll resist a little. He had
a son died young, less than a year old." When she asks how, Watters answers,
"I don't know, he's never talked about it." Antonovich wonders if this case
might be too personal for Geiger, and whether or not he should even be in the
OR, but Watters insists, "Doctor, you WANT him in the room, trust me."

The parents, John and Marsha Quinlann, arrive with their daughters, where
Watters introduces them to Geiger. Asked if they understand the chance of
both of babies surviving. The parents refuse to choose. Geiger believes that
"We can definitely save one. By trying for both, we risk both." They urge him
to go look at the twins. "Patty's on the right. Marie is the shy one,"
explains Marsha Quinlann. Geiger enters the unit to look at the twins;
stopping abruptly, he murmurs, "God in heaven," cocking his head to one side
and sighing emotionally.

The procedure is scheduled, and the entire surgical team holds a timed
rehearsal to review what they're about to do, using two dolls taped together
at the abdomen. After Geiger and Antonovich explain the procedure to the
packed room, asking for questions, the rehearsal begins. Geiger successfully
separates the dolls, and one is handed over to the transfer team. As they
move through the crowded room, the doll drops on the floor, prompting an
outburst of laughter Antonovich explodes, "It's not funny. We can't make one
mistake." A calm Geiger says, "Come on, let's try it again." The rehearsal

As they wait for the moment when their daughters will go to surgery, the
Quinlanns have Angela for support. As she holds the twins, Angela is
obviously able to tell who's who and which one has the stronger personality.
Mr. Quinlann is surprised, but Angela explains, "Oh yeah. I was the boss in
my family until my brother got bigger." John Quinlann confesses that when his
babies were first born, he thought they were monsters, but that it only took
about ten minutes to grow to love them. Empathizing with the Quinlanns plight
-- the parents and the babies -- Angela carelessly remarks, "They seem quite
attached to each other  . . . Oh, I am so sorry." Although Marsha seems taken
aback, John is very matter-of-fact: "I know, they love each other very much."

The rehearsal is over and the operating room is quiet. Antonovich is in the
OR observation deck, trying to get a feel for the layout of the room. Geiger
finds her there, telling her that while he knows that every doctor has his or
her own way, the team will be looking to her for calm because she's the one
who's done this before. When Antonovich looks at him as if she doesn't
understand what he means, Geiger says that he's just worried about the
surgical team. Suddenly, Antonovich asks, "How did your son die?" Geiger,
stunned by the question, can barely choke out the words, "Excuse me?"
Learning that Watters had told her about his son, Geiger angrily answers,
"Well, he was out of line." Antonovich apologizes, and the moment passes so
that when she asks Geiger if he's ready for the surgery tomorrow, Geiger is
firm and confident: he's never been more ready. Antonovich says, "Well, I've
never done this operation where both babies lived." Quietly, Geiger tells
her, "Nobody's dying tomorrow, not in that room."

Finally, it is time. As the surgical team is gathered, ready and waiting,
Geiger addresses them, telling them not to expect any music or his
"razor-like wit" since the size of the room makes communication difficult.
"For those of you with God in your lives, please make contact now," he adds,
and he and Antonovich begin the difficult task of separating the conjoined
twins. Geiger successfully separates the sisters and Patty is transferred to
Drs. Shutt and Antonovich for reconstructive work. Geiger continues to work
on Marie and her reconstruction proceeds without a hitch. As he finishes, his
eyes are smiling and he says in a soft voice, "She's gonna make it, this
little piggy's gonna have roast beef." 

While Geiger is working his magic, Patty is in trouble. She is bleeding
uncontrollably from an aberrant vessel, which could damage her heart. Shutt
and Antonovich are trying every measure possible, even while arguing over the
consequences of putting the infant on bypass, which they are eventually
forced to do. Eventually the bleeding slows, and Patty is taken off bypass.
When Geiger has finished his work on Marie, he is asked to assist since the
vessel is still bleeding and there are problems with the bile duct work.
Ripping off his old gloves and jamming his hands into a fresh pair, he leans
over and says, "Hey, Patty, I know your sister."

In the waiting room, Watters has to tell the Quinlanns that Patty has
suffered some complications. "What kind of complications?" a concerned Marsha
asks. Watters tells them about the heavy bleeding and the potential threat to
Patty's heart, but that the doctors have managed to keep Patty from
arresting, and so far her heart is fine. He warns them that although these
surgeons are good, the bleeding and the reconstructive work are still problems

Watters visits Thurmond in his OR, where the aged surgeon is removing seeds
from an apple with a scalpel. Thurmond tells him that he passed the physical
and that it was just a resting tremor. "And you're so sure of yourself,
you're in here giving an appendectomy to an apple?" asks Watters. Thurmond
yells, "Don't you mock me! I have cheated death in this room. I have beaten
mortality again and again." Calmly, but firmly Watters responds, "But you
can't trump your own . .  You're the greatest surgeon I've ever known, my
mentor, but its time to stop. Officially you may still have privileges, but
as head of the department, I schedule procedures and I won't be assigning you
to the OR." Thurmond appears shaken, and says that he only has to exercise
his hands more. "What do I do? Play with my grandchildren? I don't even know
them. While they were having birthdays and getting married, I was in here.
This is my room, I can get better." Watters, shaking his head in sympathy,
tells him that he's sorry. Thurmond yells after him, "This is my room, damn

After surgery, Angela has the happy task of telling the Collitos that the
operation was a success -- even though the tumor was malignant, they got all
of it. Mr. Collito is surprised that Shutt is not giving him the news in
person, but Angela brings him up to speed on the twin separation and that
Shutt is involved. Disappointed, Mr. Collito reflects that Shutt is the only
person who has ever saved his life, "Big deal to me, probably not to him."
When he asks Angela if Shutt would even know who he was in three months,
Angela firmly responds, "Absolutely!"

The Quinlanns, Angela and Watters are waiting in a doorway, when at the end
of the hall the edge of a gurney bearing Marie comes into view. Asked where
Patty is, the harried Watters answers, "Patty had the complications, it could
take a while, I don't know." Marie's gurney has barely turned the corner and
started down the corridor toward her parents when another gurney peeks into
view, wheeling Patty around the edge of the door and into the hallway. Both
babies have survived a seemingly impossible and completely improbable
journey. The relief is palpable, as tears gather in the Quinlanns' eyes.
While Camille and Watters smile and nod at each other, the exhausted surgeons
and their teams rip off their masks and gloves. Antonovich, in tears, is
emotionally and physically drained while the scrub nurses begin the task of
cleaning the room.


I find it nearly impossible to give an uncontaminated impression of this
pilot episode after watching most of the season, but here goes. Since this
was the pilot, I consider it an introduction to all of the major characters.

One is left with the impression that Chicago Hope is one of the top hospitals
in the world, staffed by the best surgeons, all of whom seem to refuse to
accept or face either their own mortality or any set, rational limitations in
any situation. The only doctor who appears unsure of herself is the outside
surgeon, Dr. Karen Antonovich, and then only briefly.

The legendary surgeon, Dr. Arthur Thurmond, perhaps knows that it is time for
him to hang up his scalpel, but refuses to accept his own mortality.

Dr. Phillip Watters is portrayed as the calm and collected arbitrator of all
disputes and the moral center of the hospital. I loved the way that his walks
through the hospital corridors bound all the plotlines into one cohesive

The feisty Alan Birch represents the legal arm of the hospital and in his
eyes, obviously garners no respect from any of the doctors. I believe that
they actually do grudgingly respect him and are amused by him.

Camille Shutt is the Chief OR nurse and has just served divorce papers on her
husband, but she appears rational, professional and in control of her
emotions and her life.

The brilliant Drs. Aaron Shutt and Jeffery Geiger, tops in their respective
fields of Neurosurgery and Cardiothoracic surgery, are clearly the best of
friends and serve as perfect foils to one another's temperament. Both, however
, are dealing with their own personal demons. Aaron is a calm, compassionate
doctor who seems to be in shock at his wife's actions, especially since he is
still in love with her. The arrogant, brash Jeffrey refuses to compromise the
welfare of any patient under any circumstance and a barely controlled rage is
visible in each action under the jokes.

Their surgical styles in the OR reflect the men they are. We are shown one
scene of Geiger's OR, seemingly placed in the episode solely for the purpose
of contrasting the hushed nature of Aaron's room, with the noise and
ebullience of Jeffery's: Geiger and his team are singing along to "Midnight
Train to Georgia," and Geiger says that all his life he has wanted to be one
of the Pips -- they have it made, singing and dancing with Gladys Knight,
getting to "woo-woo" and then becoming anonymous when the lights fade. "What
are your thoughts?" he asks Camille. She replies "I've always considered you
the complete Pip." He thanks her and then as he is called from the room,
tells one of the nurses to look for the cufflink that he has lost in the

We are briefly introduced to a view of medical ethics in the modern
bureaucracy of medicine and are left to ponder the questions of when should a
surgeon retire and the place of healing and expensive, experimental
procedures in the big-business world of medicine.

I was bothered (and still am) by the "specialty hopping" of the surgeons, but
I realize that literary and dramatic license must be taken to produce a
coherent episode.

Favorite line: Geiger's "So Camille, honey . . . what's new?"

The scene of Mr. Collito being wheeled toward surgery had to be very
evocative scene for anyone who has ever been a patient. Shots of the surgical
team working on the twins are interspersed with views of the video monitors
which show close-ups of actual operations. Throughout the operation to
separate the twins, the scenes alternate between the OR and the waiting room,
where Angela and the parents are shown in various states of waiting and
anxiety, to emphasize the length of the operation.

I liked the fact that many of the extras in the OR scenes were actual doctors
and nurses and that Linda Klein, R.N., one of the OR technicians, has
remained one of the medical technical advisors to the show throughout the

I really loved this episode, aside from the obvious fact that it introduced
us to the main players and a brilliant new television drama. Kelley takes
three separate situations involving life-and-death issues and puts a
different twist on the resolution of each one. (While some may argue that
Thurmond's situation isn't "life-or-death" I contend that it is; without his
authority, power and the secret password to the OR, Thurmond doesn't believe
his life would be worthwhile.) At any rate, Thurmond is finally granted
permission to continue, and he's quite smug and self-absorbed, giving little
or no thought to the lives of his patients. Of course, we know he cares about
his patients, but for him, the be-all-and-end-all is his license to operate,
and that's what drives him. In the end, his attitude when he learns that he
will be permitted to continue is somewhat less than grateful. There's one
twist. Then we have Mr. Collito, a patient whose life has been saved by Aaron
and the magical mystery wand, and all he can think about afterwards is the
lack of attention he's received from Aaron. There's another twist. Finally,
we have the Quinlanns and their daughters. The joy mixed with fear (and the
"laughing through tears," as Dolly would say) was quite exceptional. One last
twist to an already compelling drama, and a superb outing for Chicago Hope.

GREAT DIALOGUE (selected by both Manuela and Beverly):
As they're scrubbing in preparation to rescue Thurmond from the near
disastrous nicked aortic arch, Geiger reminds Shutt that Camille is in the
OR. Shutt tells him not to involve himself in this and Geiger remarks that
they can't have "people's health compromised by certain matrimonial
animosities." Both doctors simultaneously say, "I only tell you this because
I care," as they enter the OR.

After the Thurmondectomy, Camille pulls Geiger aside and says, "Take Aaron's
side, I expected it but leave the attitude out of the OR" and Geiger
playfully replies, "You know me, I'm Mr. Neutral."

During the argument with Birch, Geiger asks him, "You want me to smack you?
That would bring me profound joy." An angry Birch rises and says, "I try to
come to the rescue and I get shat upon by the ass of endeavoring to cover."
[Note from Beverly: Did anyone else notice Alan using the past-tense of a
popular four-letter word here? One of the Seven Dirty Words that no one is
allowed to utter on network TV? I that; I suppose tenses don't really count
for a couple of those Seven Dirty Words, huh? Ha ha.] Watters' rejoinder to
him is classic and one of his trademarks, "And as always, Alan, you've
performed admirably."

While the twins are being separated, but before Shutt is needed for his part
of the surgery, he and Camille are standing in the hallway, where she asks
him if he's OK. He nods, saying that waiting is the hard part. Camille thanks
him, adding, "I know if you wanted me out of here all you'd have to do is
blink funny." Shutt, looking at her, answers, "Oh. Contacts. Hurts to blink."

Manuela Lloyd and Beverly Blackwell
Writer & Editor, The Chicago Five

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