Television doctors

`Hopkins 24/7': Baltimore's leading industry gives new meaning to reality television.

September 04, 2000

FOR A TOWN that took perverse pride in the television dramatic series, "Homicide," the ABC News documentary, "Hopkins 24/7," is a wonderful sequel. We don't just shoot folks in Baltimore; we are famous also for patching them.

The first two of six mostly grim hours have aired, with four to come on Wednesdays in September and 10 more episodes on cable starting in October.

They show dedicated health professionals doing their human best to save life and the quality of life. This is cinema verite about the hospital mission of patient care, not about the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions' other missions of research and education.

Trauma surgeon Eddie Cornwell is one of several physicians who may become celebrated for what they do.

The region and the hospital, which gave extraordinary entry to the television people at considerable risk, can take satisfaction in the collective portrayal.

This is not light summer fare. It is somber stuff, prize-aspiring, gotten out of the way before the peak commercial season. But it is true "reality" television, in contrast to the contrived entertainments billed as such.

The Johns Hopkins Hospital, arguably the nation's most famous and/or best, Baltimore City's leading industry, was a natural for this treatment. But if "Hopkins 24/7" shows what hospitals can do, it also shows what television news can do: Hand-held cameras going unobtrusively into real situations, taking the viewer where most people may not go.

The decision of the hospital to let the cameras in is vindicated. Hopkins and ABC can be proud of their collaboration.

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