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Boston classic St. Elsewhere series is a hard find on DVD


Thanks to the development of the DVD, many older television shows and series are now available for viewing and owning. Video collectors are able to assemble personal libraries based on personalities, subjects, locales or whatever basis they desire.

One classic show with a local connection not available in its’ entirety is St. Elsewhere, a drama set in a fictional Boston hospital. Season one can be viewed on Hulu or purchased in DVD format, but the remaining seasons have never been released. That is, at least not in the U.S.A.

The show ran for six seasons (1982-1988) and was not your typical medical show up to that time. Instead of a central character like Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey or Marcus Welby, M.D., the show featured an ensemble cast and used a filming style unique at the time, but now used in many series.

The show was also known for gags the most prominent being paging characters from other television series via the intercom in the background. The series won 13 Emmys and the finale episode is also considered one of the best and most unusual series finales in television history.

The show was produced by MTM Enterprises, which was founded by Mary Tyler Moore and her then husband, Grant Tinker. The first season in 1982 featured a number of now well-known cast members including Denzel Washington, probably the biggest name star to come from the show. Others included: Howie Mandell, Ed Begley, Jr., David Morse, Williams Daniels, Norman Lloyd, Ed Flanders and David Birney. Also in that first season a number of guest stars in their earlier days appeared including Tim Robbins, Jane Kaczmarek, Ray Liotta, and even ex-Saturday Night Live alum Lorraine Newman had a multi-episode run as a patient.

Later seasons would see Bruce Greenwood, Mark Harmon, and Alfre Woodward join the staff of the fictional St. Eligius.

The entire 137 episodes of the show are available from abroad. It’s also available in England, however it has not been made available for U.S. distribution. There does not appear to be any plans to do so anytime in the future.

It’s unfortunate that all the episodes of this cleverly produced and very entertaining series may never be made available to the U.S. public. It just means that if video fans want to add it to their collection, they will just have to go elsewhere.

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