|Created by||Orin Tovrov|
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of episodes||5280|
|Original run||April 1, 1963 – December 31, 1982|
"The Doctors" was an American soap opera on the NBC network. Created by Orin Tovrov (who created radio soap opera, Ma Perkins), it premiered on April 1, 1963 the same day as rival network ABC's General Hospital premiered. It was cancelled on December 31, 1982, the same day that another NBC soap, Texas was cancelled.
The series is unique as it wasn't originally a soap opera. It rather began as an anthology show, with self-contained episodes dealing with three doctors, Dr. William Scott; Dr. Elizabeth Hayes and Dr. Jerry Chandler and Rev. Sam Shafer, the hospital chaplain of Hope Memorial Hospital.
Some months later, it became a daily serial with stories extending over several episodes and a core cast of characters, including Hope Memorial's chief of staff, Dr. Matt Powers; his colleague and later wife, Dr. Maggie Fielding; Dr. Steve Aldrich and his wife, Carolee Simpson Aldrich, a nurse; and Dr. Althea Davis.
What made The Doctors different from General Hospital was that, while on the latter show, the staff at General Hospital were quite intimate and were on a friendly basis (even to where they were romantically involved with one another), the doctors at Hope Memorial were a bit more cutthroat towards one another, and would not have minded undermining each other in efforts to get ahead.
In the 1980s, just before the series was cancelled, the up-to-that-time unnamed community in which Hope Memorial Hospital was located was revealed to be called Madison, which was located somewhere in New England.
The show was produced by Channelex, which was a division of the show's long-time primary sponsor, The Colgate-Palmolive Company (the makers of Colgate toothpaste; Palmolive Dishwashing liquid and bar soap, Handi-Wipes cleaning towels, the Ajax family of cleaners, cleansers and detergents; Fab Laundry Detergent; Cold Power Laundry detergent; Dynamo liquid detergent, et al).
The show's famous theme song was created by Score Productions, Incorporated, a well known name for theme music for soaps and game shows.
Alumni and cast
Many alumni have played roles on this series. Most notable of those include Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century); Nicholas Walker (Capitol); Ellen (McRae) Burstyn (Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore); Julia Duffy (Newhart; Designing Women); Meg Mundy; Jada Rowland (Secret Storm); Jane Badler (V); Alec Baldwin (30 Rock; Match Game); Peggy Cass (To Tell the Truth; Women in Prison); Elizabeth Hubbard (As the World Turns); Gerald Gordon (General Hospital); Kathleen Turner (Body Heat); Hillary B. Smith (One Life to Live); Kim Zimmer (One Life to Live; Guiding Light); Ian Ziering (Beverly Hills, 90210); Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek, the Next Generation); Michael Woods (Guiding Light); Nancy Stafford (Matlock); and Anna Stuart (Another World; All My Children).
James Pritchett was introduced on the show when it was still an anthology show playing a corporate president who had a bad back in June of 1963; almost two weeks later on July 9th of the same year, Pritchett was reintroduced to the show as Dr. Matt Powers, the role he would play for the better part of two decades.
Also introduced was Dr. Maggie Fielding (played by Ann Williams; Bethel Leslie and Lydia Bruce) who was Matt's recurring love interest as well as his colleague, whom he eventually married after she endured bad marriages to two very bad men, Alec Fielding and Dr. Kurt Van Alen.
Also joining in the late 60s was David O'Brien as the womanizing Dr. Steve Aldrich, who had calmed down after marrying nurse Carolee Simpson (originally played by Carolee Campbell, for whom the character was named; and then played by Jada Rowland of The Secret Storm fame to the end); also seen frequently was Dr. Althea Davis, a classy, New England trained doctor and divorcee (she had two children, one of whom, Penny, was famously played by Julia Duffy), who was once engaged to Matt and later married the brash Dr. Nick Bellini (Gerald Gordon), a rough around the edges surgeon from Chicago.
Steve's often interfering and always haughty mother, Mona Aldrich Croft, Madison's wealthiest citizen was played by actress Meg Mundy. The powerful matriarch was always interfering in her family's life, especially Steve and his brother, Jason (Glenn Corbett)'s lives.
While she was haughty and cold towards Carolee (but had some respect for her, as she tamed her more wild son), she treated Jason's troublemaking and somewhat devious wife, Nola (played at various times by Kathryn Harrold; Kathleen Turner and Kim Zimmer) much worse.
The marriage of polar opposites Nick and Althea was unique in that he was a rough-edged Chicago doctor, and she had been more refined, having been trained in the finest New England schools.
Two husband and wife writing teams who worked on The Doctors, Richard and Esther Shapiro and Eileen and Robert Mason Pollock, would later become even more famous as writers (and in the case of the Shapiros, the creators) of the 1980's prime time soap opera, Dynasty.
Althea was played by Elizabeth Hubbard, who later would go on to another long-running role on As the World Turns as the interfering but well-meaning Lucinda Walsh. Matt; Maggie; Steve, Carolee and Althea would become the long time mainstays of the show.
In September of 2014, some 42 years after the series ended its run on NBC, the series began to be rerun on the Retro Television Network at 12 pm/11 AM, showing two episodes every weekday; also beginning in December of the same year, the same two episodes that were shown during the day were also shown in primetime at 9PM/8PM, every weeknight. The episodes were beginning from 1967, some four years after the show began.