Enjoying astonishing (and well-deserved) popularity at a time in TV history when dramatic programs trafficking in "family values" were few and far between, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was also one of the last of that hardy breed known as the "TV Western." Set in Colorado Springs, CO, in the years just following the Civil War, the weekly, 60-minute series starred Jane Seymour as Michaela "Mike" Quinn, one of a handful of women doctors west of the Mississippi (or anywhere else!) during the second half of the 19th century. After the death of her father and medical partner, Dr. Mike left her hometown of Boston to set up practice in the hardscrabble village of Colorado Springs. Not surprisingly, she encountered much hostility and mistrust from the townsfolk, but gradually won them over not only because of her medical brilliance, but because she was almost unerringly "in the right" at all times. When one of her first patients, Charlotte Cooper (Diane Ladd), died of a snakebite, Dr. Mike inherited the woman's three children, who at the outset of the series ranged in age from 10 to 17. Oldest son Matthew Cooper (Chad Allen) grew up to become the town's sheriff, and later went off to study law; daughter Colleen (played by Erika Flores from 1993 to 1995, thereafter by Jessica Bowman) eventually followed Dr. Mike's footsteps by pursuing a medical career, and ultimately married her foster mother's young assistant, Dr. Andrew Cook (Brandon Douglas); and youngest Chandler boy, Brian (Shawn Toovey), got into many a scrape -- some of them near-fatal -- in the course of the series. Also in the cast was Joe Lando as taciturn mountain man Byron Sully, who spent most of his time communing with nature (including his pet wolf) and commiserating with the local Cheyenne Indian tribe. In the early episodes, Sully was merely the man who owned the house rented by Dr. Mike and her "instant" family; later on, he and Mike fell in love, got married, and had a daughter named Katie. The huge, rotating cast of recurring characters included curmudgeonly (and, initially, downright nasty) storekeeper Loren Bray (Guy Boyd in the pilot episode, Orson Bean thereafter); Bray's sister-in-law, Dorothy Jennings (Barbara Babcock), editor of the town newspaper; Grace (Jonelle Allen), a black woman who owned the town diner; telegraph operator Horace Bing (Frank Collison) and his bride, Myra (Helene Udy), a former saloon girl; Myra's ex-boss Hank (William Shockley), owner of the local "sporting house"; Rev. Timothy Johnson (Geoffrey Lower), who functioned as the town schoolteacher until Teresa Morales (played first by Michelle Bonilla, then by Alex Meneses) took over; Loren Bray's conniving buddy, barber Jake Slicker (Jim Knobeloch); Sully's old pal, wealthy ex-prospector Daniel Simon (John Schneider); and the much-maligned Cheyenne medicine man Cloud Dancing (Larry Sellers), whose persecution at the hands of the U.S. military aroused the fire-breathing activism of pioneering feminist and humanitarian Dr. Mike. Our heroine also fought tirelessly for the rights of blacks, Hispanics, battered wives and practically everyone else who suffered under the weight of bigotry and misunderstanding in the Old West. Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was far and away CBS' most successful and beloved Saturday-night series throughout its five seasons on the air, and has remained an audience favorite on cable and in syndication.
doctor, frontier town, Wild-West