One of the longest-running dramatic series on cable's Lifetime network, the weekly, hour-long Strong Medicine has been described, a bit too superficially than it deserves, as "ER for women." The series was cocreated by Whoopi Goldberg, who also appeared in the pilot episode as Dr. Lydia Emerson, who arranged a merger between the upscale Rittenhouse Women's Health Clinic in Philadelphia and a storefront medical service in the same town's inner city. In so doing, Dr. Emerson forced a pair of oil-and-water female doctors to work together and get along with one another, the first task being slightly easier than the second. The doctor in charge of the storefront operation was Dr. Luisa "Lu" Magdalena Delgado (Rosa Blasi), the blunt and outspoken product of a tough South Philly neighborhood. Holding the reins at Rittenhouse was Dr. Dana Stowe (Janine Turner), a daughter of privilege and a reserved Harvard graduate. The two doctors usually clashed over methodology: Lu cared most about people, while Dana was more concerned with orthodox procedure. While ethical arguments abounded, for the most part the ladies managed to work in concert for the greater good of their patients. Halfway through the series' third season, Dana Stowe left Philadelphia to move back with her family in Virginia with her adopted daughters in tow. Her replacement was Dr. Andrea "Andy" Campbell (Patricia Richardson), an ex Marien sergeant and strict by-the-book disciplinarian. Once again, Andy and Lu were exact opposites in their approaches to their work--and once again, they often as not found themselves on the main page when it really mattered. At the end of Season Five, Andy also departed to accept a position as a state surgeon general, whereupon she was replaced by Dr. Dylan West (Rick Schroder), with whom the prickly Lu had been carrying on a feud since their days in med school! Other cast members included Philip Casnoff as Rittenhouse chief of staff Dr. Paul Robert Santiago, who had his own issues with Lu, Dana and Andy but who usually backed up their decisions; Jenifer Lewis as acidulous, flippant Lana Hawkins, Lu's longtime receptionist; Josh Coxx as overly sensitive male nurse-midwife Pete Riggs; Brennan Elliott as arrogant young resident Dr. Nick Biancavilla,who became Dana's love; Chris Marquette as single mom Lu's temperamental teenaged son Marc; Tamara Mowry as Dr. Kayla Thornton, city-born but country-bred first year resident, who'd been inspired to pursue a career of medicine by the tragic death of her ailing brother. Like most Lifetime series, Strong Medicine spent a lot of time dwelling upon what were perceived as "women's issues", including abortion, rape, breast cancer, corrective surgery and spousal abuse. The series made its first appearance on July 23, 2000, turning out an average of 22 episodes per year thereafter.
by Hal Erickson synopsis