Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One

Marcus Welby, M.D. - Season One
What, exactly, is this strange and frightening world from which Dr. Marcus Welby (Robert Young) hails? Sure, grandfatherly Dr. Welby and his young, sexy, motorcycle-driving partner Dr. Steven Kiley (James Brolin) were ostensibly located somewhere in Southern California at a quiet little private practice, but that's too simple. Look at the offices, with their pea-green or pale blue walls, each with one or two arbitrary pictures framed on the wall and near-identical wooden desks. Or look at those houses: bookshelves, flower bouquets, beds, chairs, tables, mirrors, nightstands and aggressive patterned wallpaper. Heck, look at the school hallway in the first episode; I know the difference between a school hallway and a drab office corridor with a few children's drawings haphazardly pasted on a bulletin board. Make no mistake: Dr. Welby's practice exists not in the real world, but rather in some kind of dismal purgatory, where our hero tends to the lost souls who seek his treatment. Like a benevolent angel of death, Welby eases his patients through a variety of illnesses, from chicken pox to drug addiction to brain tumours, sometimes to health and sometimes not. Meanwhile, sexy, sexy Dr. Kiley is sexy. Truth be told, the dichotomy between Welby and Kiley is just a pinch too heavy-handed for my tastes. "You help her; I don't have your kind and fatherly bedside manner!" says Kiley in an immortal line. "I'm aware of that," adds Welby, "but perhaps you, with your young and witted ways, can give her something I can't." The rigidly formulaic plots and overbearing emotional content make this '70s curio best appreciated in small doses. Still, this seven-disc set is worth a rental if only for the haemophilia-centred episode "The Daredevil Gesture," which was directed by some kid name Spielberg. Some of his camera angles are really quite striking. Keep an eye on that boy. (Shout! Factory)