A Departure From TV's Four Food Groups

CBS News Sunday Morning's John Leonard offers a TV roundup of the best fall shows per profession: cops on C.S.I., doctors on Gideon's Crossing, newspapermen on Deadline and teachers on Boston Public.
From the get-go, the four basic food groups of television programming have been doctors, lawyers, cops and cowboys. Nevermind that we spend more time in school, or reading the sports pages, than we ever will in hospitals, court or prison, not to mention on a horse. Journalists and teachers seldom rate.

What's unusual about the new fall season prime time menu is that there is one of almost everything, including journalists and teachers. Call this affirmative action.

You want cops? The best new cop show is C.S.I., Friday nights on CBS, with William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger and their smart young team of forensic scientists, who show up at every crime scene in Las Vegas with brains instead of guns, and microscopes instead of muscles. In all the glitz, they look for grit.

You want doctors? None better than Andre Braugher in Gideon's Crossing, Wednesday nights on ABC, who rules his teaching hospital in Boston like the prince of a medieval kingdom, and takes every disease personally. So maybe there's too much furious pride. But most doctors only pretend to be smarter and better than we are; Gideon, or at least Andre Braugher, actually is.

The Leonard File
Read past reviews by John Leonard.
How about a newspaperman? In Deadline, Monday nights on NBC, not only is Oliver Platt a hard-drinking tabloid columnist who also teaches student journalists at a local college, but he is surrounded at the office by Bebe Neuwirth, as his tough glam editor, Hope Davis, his nervous thoroughbred ex-wife, Lili Taylor, a know-it-all gossip coumnist and Tom Conti, a Rupert Murdoch sort of publisher. From these people, no story is safe on the streets.

Finally, starting Monday night on Fox, teachers. In Boston Public, Jessalyn Gilsig, who teaches social studies at Winslow High, has just flunked their star running back. Assistant principal Anthony Heald wants a date. Sharon Leal teaches music. Joey Slotnick teaches English. Nicky Katt would rather sleep with one of his students than teach geolgy to some others. Fyvush Finkel wishes the history he taught didn't include desegregation. And tough-love principal Chi McBride must teach coach Thomas McCarthy that there are much bigger games then football.

Already there have been complaints that Bebe Neuwirth certainly isn't what a newspaper editor looks like. And that even in Boston they fire high-school teachers who sleep with students. But this is television. How many Perry Masons have you ever met, or Kojaks, Marcus Wellbys, or Dr. Kildares? I'm just happy Dick Wolf thinks newspaper have something to do with social justice, and that David Kelley thinks children deserve an education and teachers deserve respect. More money would help, too.