Dr. Simon Locke
|Dr. Simon Locke
(a.k.a. "Police Surgeon")
|Starring||Sam Groom as Dr. Simon Locke
Jack Albertson as Dr. Andrew Sellers (1971-1972)
Larry D. Mann as Lt. Jack Gordon (1972-1974)
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||86|
|Executive producer(s)||Murray Chercover|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||CTV Television Network
Sterno Productions Limited
|Original channel||syndicated (1971-1974)
|Original run||1971 – 1974|
The series was initially a medical drama that originated from the fictional rural town of Dixon Mills, where a young physician, Dr. Simon Locke (played by soap star Sam Groom), arrived in town to assist veteran physician Dr. Andrew Sellers (played by veteran actor Jack Albertson). The plot lines were more fitting for a big city medical drama, including a typhoid epidemic, child abuse, and even a murder. The series co-starred Len Birman as Sheriff Dan Palmer and Nuala Fitzgerald as Nurse Louise Wynn.
In 1972, Albertson left the series on unfavorable terms, and the series was renamed as Police Surgeon, where Dr. Locke moved back to the city and worked for the police department's emergency unit, where he assists the cops in solving crimes that require medical research. The reworked series also starred Larry D. Mann as Locke's superior, Lieutenant Jack Gordon, with Len Birman returning in his role, now as Lieutenant Dan Palmer. The series also featured guest stars such as William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, Donald Pleasence, and Keenan Wynn.
While this series appeared on some stations in Canada in syndication, CTV, which co-produced this series under network president Murray Chercover, did not offer this series to its affiliates until 1972, when the show became Police Surgeon.
Dr. Simon Locke was a series that was produced not only to fulfill Canadian content regulations, but also to satisfy the American Prime Time Access Rule regarding early-evening network programming restrictions, which was mandated by the FCC in 1971. To make American broadcast possible, Colgate-Palmolive, the producers and sponsors of NBC medical soap opera The Doctors, funded production of the series, and hired Groom and Albertson to play the starring roles. However, to save money, the producers opted to film the series in Toronto, instead of Hollywood or New York City. The main problem, however, was the monetary budgeting for the series, as a result of not only a choice of venue, but also the fact that the CTV network in Canada, which picked up the series for Canadian viewers, was still experiencing financial problems at the time, expecting its affiliated stations to help produce and fund its programming in a cooperative set-up. (See also The Trouble with Tracy.)
As a result of this, the conditions faced by the show's stars and staff were draconian—stars, especially Albertson, changed behind the bushes instead of a dressing room, or even a bathroom; also, the producers refused to screen the day's shooting for the actors, and the results generally weren't seen until the episode actually aired. The editing in the series was rather slipshod and poor, with bad lighting, boom mikes making "cameo" appearances, choppy editing and dreadful scripts.
Alberston quit the series after the first season as the result of the producers' cheapness. When they reminded Albertson that he was under contract, he rebuffed, "After what I just saw, there's not a jury in the world that would convict me!" (Albertson's next series would be a popular Hollywood-produced sitcom, Chico and the Man.)
Reviewers were very unkind to the program in their reviews -- TV Guide called it a "syndie quickie", while Variety, which called the show "sub-sub-par", said that it was "impossible to assume that any viewer would return for a second look."
Nevertheless, the series remained in production for three seasons under Colgate's sponsorship, until 1974, when the sponsor withdrew its money from the series. The series remained on the air in reruns for a few years afterward, under independent distribution.
- Retro TV press release: "Retro TV Adds Police Surgeon", December 3, 2014. (Retro TV's website has been blacklisted at Wikipedia; thus, no link will be presented here.)
The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows, by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh (Ballantine Books, 1988 edition)