NURSES, THE {THE DOCTORS AND THE NURSES}: A QUESTION OF MERCY (TV)

Summary

One in this medical drama series about the lives of the nurses at Alden Hospital. Dr. Adam Courtlandt, a physician at Alden in the late stages of cancer, passes away one night while watched over by nurse Rhoda Green. However, there is evidence that Rhoda may have euthanized Adam by clamping down his IV feed, thus preventing him from being kept alive by artificial means. The hospital may faces charges due to Rhoda’s actions, and a debate amongst the staff rages about the morality and ethics of the situation. Dr. Anson Kiley, who was serving as Adam’s physician and believes that Adam should never have been given the IV in the first place, gets into a particularly heated debate with Dr. Kevin McAllister, who believes that it was a violation of medical and moral principles to prematurely end Adam’s life. They get into a conflict over Dr. Kiley’s proposal to falsify Adam’s death certificate in order to protect the other doctors and nurses at Alden. However, the point becomes moot when a medical examiner is called in to do an autopsy on Adam. Meanwhile, Rhoda is seemingly traumatized over the incident and neither confirms nor denies the accusation that she euthanized Adam, even though she is being charged with manslaughter at the very least. She is put on suspension by the nursing office pending an investigation into her actions. Liz stands up for Rhoda and is sympathetic towards her. Secretly, Rhoda is deeply affected by Adam’s death, as she was romantically involved with him. She has a brief hallucination that he is still alive before bursting into tears. After a few days, a debate rages through the entire hospital staff over the issues surrounding Adam’s death and Rhoda’s suspension. Liz argues with Dr. Kiley, believing that there would be no issue if a doctor had taken the same actions as Rhoda. Rhoda recalls the first time she met Adam at a New Year’s Eve party, and that she was initially dismissive of him, although he showed some immediate attraction towards her. He offers to take her home and she declines, although her friend believes she should have taken him up on his offer. In the present, Rhoda is visited by detectives from the district attorney’s office with a warrant for her arrest awaiting arraignment for homicide. She gets out on bail and discusses the situation with Liz over lunch. She recalls more of her time with Adam, particularly an incident when they were working together in the children’s cancer ward. Adam laments that he is unable to prolong the lives of these children, and is overwhelmed by how little he feels he can do for his patients. Rhoda seems to understand and begins to reciprocate his attraction towards her. That night, Rhoda recalls another memory of her and Adam in an inn together in the winter, sharing a romantic scene. However, she’s feeling somewhat uncomfortable with their romance. Adam admits that he loves her, and she admits that she loves him too, although she is afraid of what their love may develop into, as she say he is the first man she’s truly fallen in love with. The district attorney’s office starts investigating the hospital more thoroughly, and the newspapers report on the story constantly. This wearies Liz, who gets into an argument with Gail over her reluctance to fully discuss the euthanasia issue, and the effect it is having on the hospital staff, particularly the nursing students. Dr. Kiley and Dr. McAllister continue to argue about the ethics of the situation, and Liz becomes frustrated at the levels of hypocrisy and secrecy which surround the various sides. She reveals to Dr. Kiley that she knew what Rhoda was going to do the night before and did nothing to prevent it, and Dr. Kiley responds that each person responds to death and suffering differently. They part with the issue unresolved. Rhoda continues to recall more moments with Adam, such as the day she told him in the hospital that she would be willing to marry him, presenting him with a watch as a present. However, immediately afterwards Adam learns about his cancer. The pain and sorrow of the situation cause Adam to collapse. She attends to Adam over the next few months as his condition slowly degenerates. Finally one night Adam is wracked with pain and has only a few days to live. He begs Rhoda to open the window blinds to look outside, but it is nighttime and he can see nothing. Unable to allow this to continue, the two of them decide together to euthanize him, and he dies in relative peace. In the present day, Rhoda tells Liz that she intends to plead guilty to the charges brought against her to avoid a prolonged trial. She tells Liz the truth about what happened that night, and that she has no regrets about it. Liz is unsure of what to make of this and leaves Rhoda alone. Commercials deleted. (This program contains technical problems. This represents the best copy of this program currently available to the Museum.)

Details

  • NETWORK: CBS
  • DATE: March 21, 1963 10:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:49:42
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: B:80476
  • GENRE: Drama, medical
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Drama, medical
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV series, 1962-1965
  • COMMERCIALS:

CREDITS

    • Herbert Brodkin … Producer
    • Gerald Mayer … Associate Producer
    • Stuart Rosenberg … Director
    • Leon Tokatyan … Writer
    • Frank Lewin … Music by
    • Shirl Conway … Cast, Liz Thorpe
    • Zina Bethune … Cast, Gail Lucas
    • Madlyn Rhue … Cast, Rhoda Green
    • Edward Binns … Cast, Dr. Anson Kiley
    • J.D. Cannon … Cast, Dr. Kevin McAllister
    • Dolores Sutton … Cast, Jenny Bailey
    • Breta Gersten … Cast, Mrs. Green
    • Judson Laire … Cast, Thomas Henry
    • Suzanne Storrs … Cast, Libby
    • Gina Kaye … Cast, Charlotte
    • Robert Riesel … Cast, 1st Detective
    • Dolph Sweet … Cast, 2nd Detective
    • William Shatner … Cast, Dr. Adam Courtlandt