Watch Marcus Welby, M.D.
- 2 Seasons
Marcus Welby, M.D. was a medical drama series that aired on ABC from 1969 to 1976. It starred Robert Young as the titular character, a general practitioner who worked in Southern California. James Brolin co-starred as Dr. Steven Kiley, Welby's young and energetic assistant. The show was unusual for its time in that it focused on the personal lives of the doctors as much as their medical practice. Welby was a widower with a young daughter, while Kiley was a bachelor who had a number of romantic entanglements over the course of the show. The personal storylines were as important to the show as the medical cases. The show was also noteworthy for its attention to medical accuracy. It is said that many medical schools used episodes of Marcus Welby, M.D. as teaching aids. Each episode dealt with a different medical case or issue, and the show's writers consulted with actual doctors to make sure the medical information presented was as accurate as possible. Robert Young's portrayal of Dr. Welby was a big part of what made the show so successful. He brought a warmth and humanity to the character that made him a beloved figure to audiences. Young had previously starred in another popular TV series, Father Knows Best, which had run from 1954 to 1960. His performance in Marcus Welby, M.D. was a departure from his previous role as a father and husband, but he proved to be just as adept at playing a doctor as he was at playing a dad. James Brolin was a relative newcomer to TV when he was cast as Dr. Kiley. He had appeared in a few TV shows and movies before Marcus Welby, M.D., but this role was his big break. Brolin's youthful energy and good looks made him a heartthrob for many female viewers, and his character's occasional clashes with Welby added an element of tension to the show. Other recurring characters on the show included Elena Verdugo as Consuelo Lopez, Welby's no-nonsense nurse; Anne Baxter as Gwen Hardwick, a hospital administrator; and Sharon Gless as Kathleen Faverty, a young doctor who became Kiley's love interest. Over the course of its seven seasons, Marcus Welby, M.D. tackled a wide range of medical issues, from cancer to drug addiction to mental illness. The show was notable for its willingness to address controversial topics, such as abortion and euthanasia. It was also one of the first TV shows to depict a male doctor performing a breast exam on a female patient, which was considered groundbreaking at the time. Despite its popularity, Marcus Welby, M.D. was not without controversy. In 1975, the show came under fire from the American Medical Association, which accused it of misleading the public about the scope of practice of general practitioners. The AMA argued that the show gave the impression that GPs could handle any medical problem that came their way, when in reality many cases required the expertise of specialists. The show's producers defended their portrayal of general practitioners, arguing that they were presenting a fictionalized version of the medical profession. Overall, Marcus Welby, M.D. was a groundbreaking show that paved the way for many other medical dramas that followed. Its emphasis on personal stories and medical accuracy set it apart from other shows of its time. Its legacy can still be seen today in shows like Grey's Anatomy and ER, which owe a debt to Marcus Welby, M.D. for paving the way.