The Top Ten American Sci-Fi TV Doctors.
American pop culture certainly has had its prominent impact around the world for television enthusiasts from all walks of life that have grown up throughout the decades appreciating the Yankee-inspired entertainment influences shown on the treasured boob tube. Specifically, the genre spotlighted from America’s small screen imagination has been the SF programmes, most notably their heralded characters, that captured the essence of the allure for escapist kicks.
In ‘The Top Ten American Sci-Fi TV Doctors’, we will look at the combined realm of American television in reference to the medical community and their role being played in the Science Fiction bubble at large. These noted healers from the USA’s fictional TV landscape, past, present, and future, will always serve their purpose accordingly in the mindset of SF television fans from all over the global sphere.
Perhaps you have your ideal American SF doctor that belong in this company of physicians not mentioned or referenced? Whatever the case, here are the following selections mentioned in this article for consideration in alphabetical order:-
1.) Dr. David Banner from ‘The Incredible Hulk’: The late Bill Bixby definitely epitomised the conflicted rage within the pained human psyche as the vagabond Dr. David Banner traveling the country while trying to safeguard his medical secret: controlling the terrorising tendencies to morph into an enormous green creature known as The Incredible Hulk. As a widowed physician and scientist, Banner roamed around helping those in need that crossed his path whether as himself or as the Hulk, when pressured or angered given the unkind circumstances. Of course, ‘The Incredible Hulk’ was based upon the Marvel Comics character. One could not stop but feel sympathetic for the embittered medical man and the monster he harboured within his ominous chemical imbalance. Heck, his ending theme was entitled, ‘The Lonely Man Theme’. ‘Nuff said.
2.) Dr. Julian Bashir from ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’: The dashing and refined Dr. Julian Subatoi Bashir (played by Alexander Siddig) is the Chief Medical Officer at the space station known as Deep Space Nine. Bashir’s secretive genetic engineering procedure made him somewhat of a human wonderment in medical circles. A top-notch graduate at the Starfleet Medical Academy, Bashir appeared to be somewhat of a pariah amongst his fellow Deep Space Nine colleagues. Nevertheless, Bashir eventually tamed his rigid demeanor and was able to co-exist as a confidante that devoted his medical practice to concentrate on administering medicine that mattered. Dr. Julian Bashir may not stand out as much as the other ‘Star Trek’ physicians in terms of memorable substance but he is etched in the stone of this legendary SF show’s mythology.
3.) Dr. Samuel Beckett from ‘Quantum Leap: The resourceful Scott Backula spent five seasons on the airwaves trying to ‘put right what once went wrong‘ as the compassionate Indiana-bred Dr. Samuel ‘Sam’ Beckett on the SF time-traveling series ‘Quantum Leap’. Backula received a rightful Emmy nomination for portraying the highly intellectual quantum physics mastermind that transfers from one body and situational dilemma to another during his experimental ‘leaps’ while hoping to someday return home. Sam and his traveling companion in hologram Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) bounce from one era in time to another in hopes of rectifying the dire circumstances at large. Sadly, ‘Quantum Leap’ fans will realise the sad reality that Sam Beckett would never return home after years of endlessly drifting about in the unpredictability of challenging time warps. Still, Dr. Sam Beckett, with all his impressive seven doctorate credentials in tow, remains one of American TV’s brilliant good guys to ever step into the playground of Science Fiction thrills.
4.) Dr. Beverly Crusher from ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’: How can any ‘Star Trek’ fanboy on the planet not succumb to the obvious sexy charms of TNG’s ravishing red-headed Dr. Beverly Crusher as played by the deeply fetching Gates McFadden? The embodiment of Dr. Crusher’s valued existence goes well beyond her attractive presence as she is thoroughly accomplished as the Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise. Filled with conviction and consciousness, Dr. Crusher (nee Howard) was never afraid to go against the grain and be confrontational. She occasionally had heated run-ins with her superior in Capt. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart). However, the back-and-forth flirtations and surfacing intimate feelings between the widowed mother Crusher and Picard lingered on as an on-going tease for both these characters as well as the avid fans of the show. Let’s face facts…don’t you think that the distinctive monikers for both the actress and TNG alter ego that she played are infectiously catchy? Heck, who could blame Picard for trying to capture the heart of this once insecure brainiac beauty?
5.) Dr. Leonard H. ‘Bones’ McCoy from ‘Star Trek’: ‘Dammit Jim, I am a doctor…not a nursemaid!‘ This is the typical moodiness and defiance of Dr. Leonard McCoy (the late DeForest Kelley)…’Star Trek’s original hot-headed healer for the USS Enterprise. The American southern-born McCoy was skilled with both his medical instruments as well as his acidic tongue. He was a great buddy to the ship’s head honcho in Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) who dubbed the excitably stern good doctor’s nickname ‘Bones’. However, the key trait in Dr. McCoy’s flustered personality was his snide jabs aimed at the immensely popular logical Vulcan Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Kirk’s trusty second-in-command/sidekick. Easily, Dr. McCoy’s snappy catchphrases, combative demeanour, and the honour of being Star Trek’s first physician in the legacy of this ground-breaking SF series deem him as one of the best complex medical men to emerge on American Science Fiction soil. Hey, make no ‘bones’ about it, it’s true.
6.) Dr. Dana Scully from ‘The X-Files’: American-British actress Gillian Anderson came to fame as the Maryland-bred FBI agent/medical doctor Dana Scully from the cult classic SF/supernatural Fox series ‘The X-Files’. As partnered with fellow agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), Scully was instrumental in putting her medical credentials to spectacular use for the government agency that recruited her out of medical school. Scully’s role as a forensic pathologist helped in the bizarre investigated cases that were presented at her and Mulder’s bewildered laps. As recognition for her lengthy take as the dutiful FBI agent/MD, Anderson received multiple award nominations for Emmys, SAG Awards, Golden Globes and Saturn Awards for her intense portrayals in ‘The X-Flies’. Anderson’s Dana Scully will go down as one of the most influential feminine forces inside and outside of the SF genre.
7.) Dr. Zachary Smith from ‘Lost In Space’: ‘Never fear…Smith is here!‘ This was the occasional proclamation of one Dr. Zachary Smith but fittingly ‘fear’ was the key characteristic for this one-time Jupiter 2 stowaway and a constant thorn in the side to the Robinson family on the classic American ’60s campy sci-fi series ‘Lost In Space’. The late actor Jonathan Harris played the cowardly, conniving, calculating and contemptable Dr. Smith whose inclusion in the show would turn him into the breakout star. As teamed up with his mechanical sidekick the Robot (the verbal punching bag that Smith used for alliterative insults such as ‘you bubble-headed boobie’) and the more sensible tyke Will Robinson (Billy Mumy), Smith would do anything imaginable to scheme his way back to Earth despite the Robinsons targeted destination for Alpha Centuri. Smith, originally sent to sabotage the Robinson clan’s mission in space, threw them off course with his shifty shenanigans. Soon, the diabolical Smith would turn into a whimpering wonder while cavorting with and running from the various aliens and predators looking to create havoc for our heroic space family. Dr. Smith was a despicable menace…and we LOVED him for every bit of his insufferable being.
8.) Dr. Simon Tam from ‘Firefly’: It is too bad that the Fox SF series ‘Firefly’ never was able to sustain its existence on network television in terms of being a TV ratings-grabber. ‘Firefly’ was actually a pretty decent space vehicle that featured well-rounded characters, an opulent production, and intriguing conflict aboard and away from the spacecraft Serenity. Even the theme of warring factions that pitted the Alliance against the Independents or ‘Browncoats’ had some reminiscent Star Trek-esque upside to its arsenal of escapist purpose. One of the supporting characters that were instrumental in the functioning of Serenity’s notables was Dr. Simon Tam (Sean Maher), a privileged and brilliantly trained physician raised and schooled in Osiris. Simon, once the pride and joy of his wealthy family’s high expectations, disrupts his medical career at one of the top Osiris hospitals to rescue his troubled baby sister River (Summer Glau) stuck at the neglectful Academy school she was attending. Now both Simon and River are wanted by the pesky authorities. It is a good thing that the Serenity could use fugitive Dr. Simon Tam’s medical talents in the process.
9.) Dr. Rudy Wells from ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ and ‘The Bionic Woman’: Dr. Rudy Wells (all played by actors Martin E. Brooks, Martin Balsam, and Alan Oppenheimer) may have been considered the third wheel in the pantheon of ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’ and the original novel ‘Cyborg’ by Martin Caiden for which it was based upon phenomenon behind the likes of Colonel Steve Austin and OSI head operative Oscar Goldman. But it does not change the fact that if it were not for Rudy’s tremendous technical talents in the operating room that saved astronaut Steve Austin’s fragile life then there would be no bionic Austin or Jamie Sommers’s (Lindsay Wagner) ‘Bionic Woman’ for that matter neither. Wells even had his fingerprints on the bionic dog for goodness sakes! Rudy had top clearance in overseeing the bionic implants that shaped the incredible wellness/fitness of newly minted invincible government agents Austin and Sommers. Indeed, Dr. Rudy Wells belongs in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame for American TV doctors to ever perform medical miracles through an advanced procedural protocol.
10.) Dr. John A. Zoidberg from ‘Futurama’: Yes, ‘Futurama’s Dr. John A. Zoidberg or just plain Zoidberg is an anomaly oddly situated in the medical profession, to say the least. The pinkish-coloured animated crustacean-described doctor is a Decapodian species whose medical credentials are suspect at best. Zoidberg (voiced by Billy West) works at the Planet Express on staff but his glaring weakness seems to be in the uncertain shady areas of fully understanding human medicine. After all, Zoidberg is not exactly what one would call confident in human physiology. There are hints at Zoidberg’s destitute status away from Planet Express, every negative condition of living imaginable that is in total contrast to the comfortability of competent doctors’ preferred existences. One might want to request a second opinion when being diagnosed by the Decapodian quack…unless you are an unlucky lobster with an unshakable hot water burn creating a mighty permanent rash on the claw.
(c) Frank Ochieng (2019)