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Dull 'Dr. Quinn' movie needed a shot of adrenalin

Friday, May 21, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

This will sound blasphemous to some, but here goes: I never liked "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." I've got nothing against family shows, in fact, I wish there were more of them. I just can't stand a show, no matter how family-oriented, that's so ... predictable and wan.

    Tv Review

'Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Movie'

When: 8 p.m. tomorrow on CBS.


When "Dr. Quinn" premiered in 1993, I was a senior in college. I thought its title sounded like a bad "Saturday Night Live" skit, and the show trafficked in politically correct preaching that made its late 19th-century setting anachronistic.

After watching "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Movie," it's clear not much has changed in six years. The TV movie's unwieldy title (known as "DQMW: TM" from here forward) is matched by a dull, drawn-out story.

Fans will cheer to see most of the original cast return (notable absentees: two of Dr. Quinn's adopted kids played by Chad Allen and Jessica Bowman), but surely even they will be disappointed by the story.

About 30 minutes into "DQMW: TM" the tale takes an alleged tragic turn that anyone with a sense of this show won't buy for a moment. How could they? "Dr. Quinn" is as believable as a Harlequin Romance and as likely to take risks as someone with a fear of heights is to go bungee jumping.

The movie begins with Sully (Joe Lando) poo-pooing a plan to mine copper near Colorado Springs for fear it could harm the environment (I'm sure they were really worried about that back then). The less-enlightened townsfolk basically throw up their hands ("That darn Sully!" they seem to be saying), while acknowledging his reaction is par for the course. But the tycoon behind the copper mine gets angry.

And so Katie -- Dr. Mike (Jane Seymour) and Sully's adorable 4-year-old daughter -- gets kidnapped during Dr. Mike's birthday party.

Even as "Dr. Quinn" depicted an 1800s open-air classroom with a non-threatening feminist as teacher (the lesser population would act unkindly or un-PC, Dr. Quinn would put them in their place within the hour, all would be well until the next episode when they'd forget what they learned and act up again), the show's male lead was relegated to an eye candy role (turnabout is fair play). Some viewers will, no doubt, cheer his brief shirtless scene in "DQMW: TM."

That's what I found so disingenuous about last year's efforts to save "Dr. Quinn." While everyone involved touted it as a "family show," I don't know any kids or teens who watched it.

My suspicion is "Dr. Quinn's" primary appeal was to women who revel in romantic fantasies of falling in love with a peace-loving, PC hunk like Sully. That's fine. Everyone's entitled to a fantasy life. Just don't proclaim "Dr. Quinn" a great family drama. The WB's "7th Heaven" is far more deserving of that title, because it appeals to mom and the rest of the family.

Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com

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