It's a weeknight, maybe Monday or Tuesday - the family has had dinner, and afterwards, the newfangled invention in the house - the television set - is turned on and warms up. The big show - or one of them, at any rate - is Medic, the first realistic show set in the world of medicine and hospitals, the forerunner of all shows to follow, from St. Elsewhere to Emergency!, ER to House. I've never seen Medic (it ran for only two seasons, 1954-56), but its general tone of calmness is something I can guess from the theme song, which sounds uncannily like the kind of pretty, restful and burbling brook of sound that a person recovering from an illness would like to hear. Led by the piano, a choir of the awed (like so many hospital well-wishers) aah-ahhs along, with the 50s-requisite string section in tow, like a Muzak Mantovani. The touch is light and caring, restful and easy. (Like ideal hospital food, it is nourishing and somewhat bland.) Then the singer comes in, singing words that are just shy of magnetic poetry, lyrics that show her complete lack of worry and loneliness, now that she has the blue star to gaze upon, a symbol as reassuring to her as other symbols are to other people. Things have been bad; they have perhaps been awful. Now that she sees the star, she can rest easy, knowing everything will be all right. A nation of exhausted people, adults all, who endured the war and the aftermath, watch as week after week, the troubled and ill are helped back to wholeness and happiness. The kids can go out to play; the adults stay in, resting and thankful that they have everything they really need – and a television set, too.
(Thanks to David Belbin for sending this to me.)