“Chicago Hope,” which started on CBS on Sept. 18, 1994, was one of two medical drama series that became a hit in the 1990s. It presented a healthy rivalry with “E.R.,” which aired on NBC. Airing from 1994 to 2000, the show starred Mandy Patinkin, Christine Lahti, Adam Arkin, Lauren Holly, Thomas Gibson, and later, Mark Harmon. Read on for more details about “Chicago Hope.”
Twenty years ago, five shows debuted on network television that created a lasting impact with viewers. As we begin Fall TV 2014, let’s take a look back at these classics in our flashback to Fall TV 1994.
“Chicago Hope” revolved around the lives of doctors working at a fictional hospital, with Dr. Geiger (Mandy Patinkin), a sought-after surgeon with a tragic past, as its central character. The hour-long hospital drama was technically groundbreaking, only to be beaten by “E.R.” from another channel. And so it was pitched as the darker, more dramatic, more cerebral medical series.
What made “Chicago Hope” a facet of television in the 1990s was that it pushed medical drama better, with stories that made viewers empathize with hospital characters. The quality of the series was more likely because of the growing rivalry with “E.R.” It had to do well to edge out the competition. Despite the comparison, the show went on to carve a niche or following, largely because “Chicago Hope” had a smaller cast of characters to keep track of.
Ratings for the series was decent, but in order to tap into more viewers, the show would often do crossover episodes with other more established CBS hits like “Picket Fences” or “Homicide: Life on the Streets” or “Early Edition.”
It’s interesting to note that when the “Chicago Hope” ended, many of its cast members moved on to work together in other CBS shows. For instance, Rocky Carrol, Lauren Holly and Mark Harmon were all in “NCIS,” while Mandy Patinkin and Thomas Gibson starred in “Criminal Minds.”
Where Are They Now: The Stars of “Chicago Hope”
- Mandy Patinkin has worked in television shows like “Dead Like Me” and “Criminal Minds,” but he’s most lauded for his work in “Homeland,” currently running on Showtime, as a CIA analyst.
- Héctor Elizondo is a familiar fixture on television, particularly among the many viewers of “Grey’s Anatomy,” where he plays Callie’s father.
- Vondie Curtis-Hall can be seen on “Chasing Life,” which ran over the summer on ABC Family.
- Christine Lahti is a semi-regular on “Hawaii Five-O” on CBS.
- Peter Berg became mostly involved with the critically acclaimed series “Friday Night Lights” from NBC and now works as a sought-after movie and television director.
- Mark Harmon currently stars in the most watched drama series in the world, “NCIS.”
- Thomas Gibson has become the main star of “Criminal Minds” when Patinkin departed the series early on.
- Rocky Carroll is also active on “NCIS.”
- Adam Arkin appears on “Sons of Anarchy” and “Justified.” Both shows are on FX.
- Lauren Holly is on the Canadian import “Motive,” which broadcasts on ABC.
Were you an avid viewer of “Chicago Hope” in the 1990s? Did you have a favorite episode? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
For more television news and features, check Movie News Guide (MNG) regularly.
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons/Jerry Avenaim