Friday, June 27, 2008

A Reality Show with Heart

I watched the first episode of the six-part ABC documentary “Hopkins” last night and it was riveting television from start to finish with real-life life and death situations. The show centers on the doctors and patients at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. Among other stories, the first episode included coverage of one the country’s most respected neurosurgeons, Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, performing surgery to remove a brain tumor from a 50+ year old man. As part of the show, the patients covered in the story are interviewed and it was heart-breaking to watch this tough looking guy struggling to make it through the interview without breaking down in tears, ending the interview with the simple words that he doesn’t want to die. There were a couple slightly gruesome shots of a human brain during surgery that made me a little squeamish, but I just looked away because the show was just too good not to watch. It also covered the more personal stories of the doctors on staff, including the heartbreak and desolation of a resident facing divorce due in part to the lack of time he can dedicate to his wife and children.

I found the show compelling and I’m definitely going to tune in for the coming episodes in spite of the fact I had knots in my stomach watching last night. It wasn’t so much the blood or brains in this case, it was knowing that whatever the outcome—good or bad—especially if bad, it’s all real and these aren’t actors playing make believe. It’s someone’s life we’re watching play out on TV. Compelling television to say the least.