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For Summer-Starved Quality TV Fans, ABC's "Hopkins" Is Just What the Doctor Ordered
June 26, 2008  | By David Bianculli
 
Hopkins.jpgThere are other places today where I'm talking excitedly and approvingly about Hopkins, the new six-part ABC documentary series premiering tonight at 10 ET. I'm reviewing the show on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and have posted a review of the show on my Broadcasting & Cableblog. But here, I want to rave a little more, for a few other reasons...

Before I forget, if you want to hear my review on Fresh Air, you can listen in at your normal time on your local NPR radio station, or visit the Fresh Air website about 3 p.m. ET to hear it online. Here's that link. As for my Broadcasting & Cable blog, you can link to that here.

But now, for the rest. Those two reviews talk about the fine lineage and excellent quality of Terry Wrong's new nonfiction production, and how this second visit to Baltimore's Johns Hopkins Hospital is, though a bit more slick in tone and style, just as impressive as its predecessor, Hopkins 24/7, which ABC ran eight long years ago.

But I want to address, just for a second, how smart Hopkins is compared to most of the other summer prime-time network fare we're being offered. And it seems only fair to start with ABC, since Hopkins was promoted during such mind-numbing ABC fare as Wipeout and Wife Swap.

hurl-july-15.jpg

Where's the intelligent viewer to go these days to watch broadcast TV without getting sick to the stomach? (And if it's sick to the stomach you want, don't forget Hurl!, the intentional-upchuck show that premieres next month on G4.)

Take away Wednesday's Prime Time: The Outsiders, which was a superficial look at Amish teens anyway, and look at ABC's Monday through Wednesday prime-time lineup:

The Bachelorette (two hours). The Mole. Wipeout. I Survived a Japanese Game Show. Wife Swap. Supernanny. I've known stables that featured less horse manure than that.

NBC, in the same three-day period, presented -- take a deep, cleansing breath -- American Gladiators, Nashville Star, Deal or No Deal, America's Got Talent, Baby Borrowers and Celebrity Circus. Which is worse? Tough call. But from a distance, both lineups smell pretty much the same.

That's why Hopkins is so deserving of being embraced. It's smart, and presumes its viewers are, too.

In summer, especially, that's a very welcome rarity.

 
 
 
 
 
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