Chicago Hope and Picket Fences

Chicago Hope (1994-2000)
Picket Fences (1992-1996)
Type: Crossover
Group 2

   David E. Kelley is a crossover freak! I mean I think crossovers are very cool but I swear this guy is the crossover king. He must've spent the 70's watching Laverne and Shirley appearing on Happy Days just thinking, "Some day, some day..."

   David E. Kelley is one of the most prolific TV producers around. And not only does he create tons of quality shows, he loves to have them crossover with each other as well as with other people's shows. He has crossed over his shows Ally McBeal and The Practice, The Practice and Boston Public. He tried to get FOX and CBS to let him cross Picket Fences over with FOX's The-Files (He didn't get a full cross but he did sorta cheat a connection between the shows into an episode even if Mulder and Scully didn't get to show up in person). Rumor is more crosses are coming.

   One of his earliest ones involved his show Picket Fences. The show's small town of Rome, Wisconsin might have missed out on a visit from Fox Mulder and Dana Scully but that didn't stop the employees at Chicago Hope Hospital from getting a visit or two from Rome's Jill Brock and feisty attorney Douglas Waumbaugh.

   Crossing Chicago Hope and Picket Fences was surely a much easier sell than Picket Fences and The X-Files. Like Ive said Kelley produced both shows AND CBS aired both shows. It's much easier to do these things if the end result is extra promotion for shows on the same network. No network exec wants to help sell another network's show.

   These shows hooked up twice. The first crossover happened on Picket Fences. It makes sense. When the first crossover happened Picket Fences was an already established hit and Chicago Hope was the new David E. Kelley show on CBS. Use the hit show to get people to try the new one. And in this case the new show was a Chicago based hospital drama that had debuted running against NBC's also debuting also Chicago based hospital drama E/R. With that sort of difficulty to start with any signposts pointing potential viewers to Chicago Hope were a good idea.

   Picket Fences' Rome, Wisconsin was an eccentric little town that always seemed to have some very strange things going on. The result was almost always offbeat stories that usually focused on real world issues from a different point of view that would make you have to think. A lot of shows do date rape episodes, but in most cases the victim wouldn't be a guy. Many shows might get into religious issues but only Picket Fences would have the lead character's very young son have a crisis of faith and decide to convert to Judaism. The cool thing was it would hit these heavy topics in a way that made you laugh while you were thinking. Very cool.

   Chicago Hope... well Chicago Hope was a medical drama. That's not putting it down but despite their differences all medical dramas (E/R, St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope...) have a standard structure that is summed up nicely with "medical drama". The differences between these kind of shows usually comes from who it is making them, what kind of flavor and spin they give it. So think hospital drama from the guy who brought you funky Picket Fences, who gave Ally McBeal an imaginary dancing infant to cope with. Chicago Hope had episodes like a musical episode where a delusional doctor saw the entire staff singing and dancing. It also later dared to use banned language when Dr. Jack McNeil dared to use the term "Shit happens" (it is a distinct phrase that says something hard to say any other way).

   The plot of Picket Fences centered on Rome's eccentric lawyer Douglas Wambaugh, played by Kelley favorite Fyvush Finkel. It found him in failing health and having to travel for treatment to Chicago and Chicago Hope. Accompanying him to Chicago was Rome's resident doctor Jill Brock. Wambaugh was treated by Hope's Dr. Geiger. Geiger was a true... individual... capable of pissing off the staff of his own hospital who he worked with every day. So you can imagine it wasn't difficult for his manner and treatment of Douglas Wambaugh, Jill's friend and patient, to get under the skin of Rome's top physician.

   This first crossover happened in November of 1994. A few months later in January Picket Fences returned the favor by having Wambaugh make a return visit to Chicago Hope on an episode of that show. Chicago Hope's thirteenth episode "Small Sacrifices" had Wambaugh back in Chicago, back causing trouble for the doctors and back hopefully drawing extra curious viewers to the show.

Other Chicago Hope Crossover Links
Chicago Hope and Early Edition
Chicago Hope and Homicide: Life On The Streets
Chicago Hope and St. Elsewhere

Other Picket Fences Crossover Links
Picket Fences and The X-Files

Click here to return to main Crossover List

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