I have a great affection for another of Jack Webb’s television hits, “Emergency.”
It ran from 1972 to 1977 on NBC with some made-for-TV movies that followed for two years after that.
It was the story of two Los Angeles County firefighter-paramedics John Gage, played by Randolph Mantooth, and Roy DeSoto, played by Kevin Tighe.
Each episode showed Gage and DeSoto doing rescues and administering aid with their colleagues at Station 51 and getting the patients as quickly as possible to fictional Rampart General Hospital where Dr. Kelly Brackett (Robert Fuller), Dr. Joe Early (Bobby Troup) and Nurse Dixie McCall (Julie London) saved the victims in time for the closing credits.
Was “Emergency” high on the quality scale? No, but it was far from poor either. I can’t believe I am going to use this overused cliché, but I like to describe it as comfort food TV, an electronic dish of mash potatoes and gravy.
There was plenty of action, the carnage was at a minimum as compared to some shows today, practically all of the victims survived and there was a generous helping of humor. It usually involved Gage, who always had an idea to improve his lot in life, that pretty much never worked out.
I remember late in grade school and early in junior high how my friends and I wanted to move to L.A. and become firefighters and chase girls on our days off, just like the guys at Station 51.
I had my tonsils out in the sixth grade and just before I went under in the operating room, I felt so cool knowing that I was getting an IV just like one of those mentioned on “Emergency.”
A scene in 1992’s Wayne’s World cracked me up. Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) and the rest of their crew hurry to get their always wasted friend Phil into Stan Mikita’s Donuts and Wayne says something like, “We need coffee and crullers stat. We have to get him to Rampart.”
So “Emergency” might not have walked off with dozens of Emmys, but it made its mark on American television and a young kid from the Chicago suburbs.
The show, like the other ones I’ve written about this week, is available on DVD and can be seen on Me-TV. The pilot episode, which is actually a two-hour movie, is also on youtube.com.
Until Next Time. . .