Hunky physicians, sexually repressed nurses, bizarre medical scares! Let's face it: Doctor shows on TV are always the cure for what ails us.
With long-time fave ER finally giving up its stethoscope after this season (and Grey's Anatomy spin-off Private Practice hanging up a shingle again), what better time than now to salute our favorite faux-doc addictions.
Here are the shows we can't turn off. -- Steve Spears and Kelly Smith, Times staff writers
MARCUS WELBY M.D.
1969-1976 on ABC
Back in the good ol' days, doctor-god Welby (Robert Young) could fix a patient's life and his illness with a simple house call or two. No malpractice insurance or Prozac here. Then there was the bedside manner of his sexy sidekick, Dr. Kiley (James Brolin), who really knew how to ride a motorcycle.
1969-1976 on CBS
Get Dr. Gannon, stat! Anything to get cutie Chad Everett running in his houndstooth leisure suit and aviator sunglasses to save the day with some experimental surgery. Set at a cool L.A. medical center, definitely a different vibe than Welby in the 'burbs.
1972-1983 on CBS
Plop Hawkeye (Alan Alda), Hotlips (Loretta Swit), Radar (Gary Burghoff) and the gang in the middle of the Iraqi desert instead of Korea and the jokes still work. As long as they can keep sand out of the homebrewed gin. Mix in some surgery under fire and anti-establishment humor, and you've got one of the most celebrated TV series ever.
1982-88 on NBC
An early ER that got no respect. This quirky show tackled everything before it was cool: AIDS, killing off key characters, backside nudity (a doctor drops trou before leaving the hospital and the show). And where would Denzel Washington, Howie Mandel and Ed Begley Jr. be today without it?
1994-2000 on CBS
Loaded with a top cast -- Adam Arkin, Hector Elizondo and Mandy Patinkin -- it tried to shock us with the "s- - -" word and a teen's breasts after reconstructive surgery, but nobody noticed because we were watching ER. After the first season, the cast and the time slot started revolving and nobody knows how it lasted six years.
5 new classics
1994 to present, 10 p.m. Thursdays on NBC
Blood spurting everywhere! Interns screwing up! All at an exhausting pace. The longest running primetime medical drama redefined the genre by giving us a dose of supposed real life in a Chicago ER. Holler if your doctor looks like George Clooney or John Stamos.
2004 to present, 8 p.m. Tuesdays on Fox
Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) could kick Dr. Welby's butt without blinking. And no mystery malady -- African sleeping sickness anybody? -- is too tough or too melodramatic for this Sherlock with a stethoscope.
2005 to present, 9 p.m. Thursdays on ABC
Better than staying at a Holiday Inn Express, watching Grey's makes us smarter about medicine. Studies say so! Awesome, if you ever need to know how to cut off a foot with a chainsaw. Ew. No shortage of beautiful people like McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) and McSteamy (Eric Dane), even if they are really annoying like Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Izzie (Katherine Heigl).
2004 to present, 9 p.m. Mondays on E! Channel
No surgery is too small, too shallow or even too graphic for those plastic surgery doctors ... nay, heroes! ... who toil each day in Beverly Hills. The ultimate in voyeuristic reality television!
2003 to present, 10 p.m. Tuesdays on FX
Kind of like a fictional Dr. 90210 -- definitely not for the squeamish -- but with plenty of sex, backstabbing and mordant humor mixed in for doctors Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) and Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh). Plus a parade of celebs who have definitely had some work done.
5 guilty pleasures
DOOGIE HOWSER, M.D.
1989-1993 on ABC
Who wouldn't want a cute 16-year-old, board-certified physician in charge of saving your life? Throw in "Vinnie" (Max Casella), his hormone-challenged best friend, and cougar nurse "Curly Spaulding" (Kathryn Layng) and you have every teen's fantasy TV show. (Just lose the goofball diary entry at the each episode!)
2001 to current on ABC
Zach Braff, Donald Faison and John C. McGinley lead a cast that rivals any comedy lineup since "Cheers." This is what hospital life would be like ... if everyone inhaled nitrous oxide and snorted Pixy Stix every day.
TRAPPER JOHN, M.D.
1979-1986 on CBS
Strictly for those who couldn't get enough M*A*S*H, here comes the return of Trapper John (played by Pernell Roberts), who 28 years after Korea is now the chief of surgery at a San Francisco hospital. The supporting cast, featuring the hunky Gregory Harrison and the ... well, just Timothy Busfield, made up for the deathly absence of jokes.
1963 to current on ABC
Repeat after us: "I wuuuv Dr. Noah Drake!" Forget Patrick Dempsey! Rick Springfield is the original doctor of love, and even though he couldn't land "Jessie's Girl," he has millions of hearts pitter-pattering all the way to their cardiogram appointment.
1972-1977 on NBC
Greatest doctor hairdos ever, thanks to the furry manes of stars Randolph Mantooth, Kevin Tighe and Bobby Troup. To this day, we have no idea what "100 cc's of Ringer's Lactate" means, but our brave paramedics used it each week to treat every ailment in the world! (Hear the Emergency! theme song.)