In this summer of dismal television, is anyone out there watching the inspiring, beautiful, dramatic, fascinating, heart-wrenching documentary series on ABC, "Hopkins"? This six-part series is almost over, and in the course of these weeks, we’ve gotten to know real-life doctors and patients and their families, interns and nurses and surgeons in their most intimate moments.
We watch as they dispense life, or deal in death. We observe, week after week, as a baby with an enlarged heart fights to survive, or a couple undergoes a three-way kidney exchange so the wife can get the organ she needs. We’ve watched newborns die, we’ve watched interns make rookie mistakes. We’ve seen residents recoil at gunshot victims and surgeons allow themselves a moment to feel heroic. The payoff is so much more gratifying than "ER," or "Scrubs" or "Grey’s Anatomy." Because it’s real.
This is journalism at its best, and it is extremely hard to achieve, the result of great courage on the part of Johns Hopkins – who let camera crews in to see the good, bad and incompetent – and of great effort, patience and editing skill by producer Mark Gordon. Bravo, too, to ABC.
Is the public paying attention? The ratings have been up and down, and lately down. "Hopkins" started out winning the night among its competitors, but it hasn’t done so well since. The show draws strong female audiences; this past week it lost – by a lot – to a new CBS police thriller-drama, "Flashpoint."
We viewers have to tune in when the networks bother to broadcast something of quality. Otherwise, we get what we deserve. This coming week is the finale. Let’s watch it.