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Television Reviews : Miracles Abound on NBC 'Medical Breakthroughs'


Delicate brain surgery to cure a woman's epilepsy.

A pair of revolutionary plastic feet that let a double amputee play playground basketball.

A microsurgery technique that uses toes to replace a doctor's amputated fingers.

A custom-programmed electronic ear implant that returns a deaf man to the hearing world.

If these feats don't qualify as "Modern Medical Breakthroughs," what does? And who better than Gregory Harrison, "Trapper John, M.D.'s" resident hunk, to host tonight's NBC special about the courageous patients, brilliant doctors and wondrous new technologies that have pulled off medical miracles once thought impossible?

The hour (Channels 4, 36, 39 at 10) contains a couple of silly re-created scenes and doesn't always use the actual persons involved in the events portrayed. But the winning personalities of the real people--especially Vietnam vet Bill Demby, who shoots jump shots on his two artificial "Seattle Feet," and the Mexico City doctor who achieved his dream of becoming a plastic surgeon despite losing four fingers--more than compensate.

Produced by the Kelly Entertainment Co. and not the NBC News division, "Modern Medical Breakthroughs" is informative, engaging and restrained, which is more than can be said for the first three issues of "Summer Showcase," the silly pseudo-documentary series that the network's news division is giving us.

Host Harrison is as competent and unobtrusive as he is handsome. Overall, "Breakthroughs" is as interesting and entertaining as an extra-good segment of "That's Incredible!," which it resembles with its upbeat, optimistic tone.

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