House Calls

To: Warren Littlefield

President of Entertainment, NBC

From: Michael Crichton

Re: The Defibrillator

Item: ER is the number-one-rated drama in the continental United States, Puerto Rico and Guam. For nearly 89 million Americans, this TV, as the slogan urges, "Must Be Seen."

Item: Of all American households with one or more television sets, 33 percent will encounter an incidence of chronic or episodic heart disease within the next two Nielsen sweeps periods. An even greater number will experience the painful dyspepsia popularly called "heartburn."

Item: Sixty-eight percent of white 13-year-olds correctly identify the word "fibrillation" to mean the rapid twitching of the atria and its accompanying ventricular arhythmia. Almost all of these youths recognize "defibrillation" to be the reversal of this process, especially in trauma situations, through the administration of an electrical charge to the thoracic cavity.

Item: The AMA (American Medical Association) has reported that Americans feel either "good" or "very good" about the availability of site-specific medical procedures, otherwise known as "house-calls."

Item: According to writers at Details magazine, George Clooney's tonsorial flair--his pioneering "Caesarean" comb-forward--will continue to define men's hair through Fall, 1999.

Conclusion: The atmosphere is currently ideal for a spin-off of the hit series ER, to involve a roaming medical professional engaged in the weekly rescue of ailing individuals. George Clooney is... The Defibrillator.

Pilot Synopsis: Hunky pediatrician Dr. Douglas Ross (George Clooney) is seen reveling with other ER characters in Cook County General. Shots of: back-slapping, gurney-wheeling, syringe-filling. Cut to: Dr. Ross in an examining room, stripped to the waist, fondling an anonymous nurse while swigging cough syrup (Dihydrocodeine). Cut to: a bleary-eyed Ross performing clumsy CPR on a motionless youth. A reverb-soaked rib-cage crack sounds over the urgent arpeggios of the opening theme. Cut to: parents weeping; medical tribunals reproaching; Dr. Ross, retching.

As the show proper opens, Ross leaves his loft apartment, which is fully furnished with an array of consumer electronics (preferably Sony). He walks to a sport utility vehicle (the Toyota RAV4 ), after depositing his apartment keys with a local street denizen... a suspected consumer of "crack" cocaine. The audience understands this to be a random act of charity--as it turns out, the first of many. There is a mood of repentance as the RAV4 leaves Chicago and enters what many viewers call "the heartland."

Later, Dr. Ross nearly collides with an overturned police car. The camera follows shell casings up to a cracked window. Inside, an Illinois State Trooper (Ned Beatty) has sustained a bullet wound to the left deltoid with a possible fracture of the axillary border of the scapula, severe facial contusions, and a suspected subdural hematoma. His bp is 80 over palp. and his respiration is labored and irregular. He is dying.

As Dr. Ross removes him from the smoking vehicle, the officer goes into cardiac arrest. Thinking on his feet, Ross pulls jumper cables from his trunk, affixes them to his Sears-brand "Diehard" battery, yells "clear" into the shadowy fields, and clamps the other ends to the wounded officer's cyanotic nipples... in effect defibrillating him, and saving his life. Ross straps the rescued officer into the roomy passenger seat of his RAV4 and speeds him to a rural hospital. Near twilight, the same day, Ross encounters an exquisite yet "earthy" woman in a roadside eatery. He is having eggs, over easy. She is "trying the pie." There is a palpable sexual tension between them--the kind that can linger, unconsummated, through a full season. Possibly two. He is circumspect and obviously grieving. She is Sony recording artist Mariah Carey in her first major television role.

Episode III: Dr. Ross meets his estranged father (George Takei) in a bowling alley in Dubuque, Iowa. In a series of flashbacks, the audience learns that Ross's father abandoned the family to become a transient crop-duster and a regionally renowned playboy. As a result of this lifestyle, Ross's father is now suffering acute coronary ischemia and debilitating angina pectoris. Looking at a six/ten split, Dr. Ross tries to explain that he too has "been there before," but the elder Ross is unresponsive. Will the embittered Dr. Ross defibrillate his own father should he complete this myocardial infarction? "To Be Continued..."

Episode IX: Dr. Ross is reminded of the sanctity of life after a young Mexican farmworker loses her dog to a carelessly driven combine. As the pooch flatlines, Ross desperately tries to recall canine anatomy, dismantling the girl's Sony Walkman and converting the floppy headphones into a makeshift defibrillator. The girl ultimately refuses to attach "mi perro" to a cardio-pulmonary respirator, preferring to remember her beloved pet from his friskier days. In a zany comic subplot, a dental hygienist goes into shock after being electrocuted by a short-circuiting cuspidor. Dr. Ross then struggles to apply the "paddles-of-life" to the chest of the amazingly buxom woman--played by country music legend Dolly Parton.

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