The cynics say ratings are everything in commercial television. Fans of "St. Elsewhere" know the truth: Once in a while--OK, once in a great while--being good is enough.
Indeed, to say that NBC's award-winning medical drama has never enjoyed hit status is an understatement: In its five years on the air, "St. Elsewhere" has not once ranked among the season-ending, Top 50 most-watched series!
That only goes to demonstrate that the show's writers, producers, directors and actors are every bit as adept at keeping their patient alive as the doctors who populate their fictional St. Eligius Hospital.
The combination of good acting (by cover subjects William Daniels as Dr. Mark Craig and Ed Begley Jr. as Dr. Victor Ehrlich, among other stars of the show) and good scripts (the series recently received two Humanitas Prize nominations for enriching television) has attracted an intensely loyal audience whose upscale demographics offset its modest size in terms of advertiser appeal.
"St. Elsewhere," its devoted followers and the advertisers will be back for Season Six in September. The show will stay in its present time slot, Wednesdays at 10 p.m., on Channels 4, 36, 39.