Quincy, M.E.

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Klugman as Dr. Quincy

Quincy, M.E. (or simply Quincy) is name of a United States television series that aired October 3, 1976 to May 11, 1983 on NBC. It starred Jack Klugman as Dr. Quincy, a strong-willed forensic coroner working to ascertain facts about suspicious deaths. In the process, he frequently comes into conflict with his boss and the police, each of whom have their own (often flawed) ideas about what's going on.

Many of the shows were somewhat formulaic. A body appears, seeming to have died by natural causes. Quincy notices some fact that causes him to suspect foul play. He then changes roles from Medical Examiner to detective and solves the murder that is "unseen" by all others. But not before Quincy's boss gets upset, believing that Quincy is seeing evidence that doesn't exist and that Quincy should work on routine cases, of which they always seem to be behind on. The police department also gets their feathers ruffled as he "shoulders-in" on their territory as well.

A quote from one episode gives a snapshot of a typical conflict. When Quincy is hospitalized, Dr. Sam Fujiyama (Robert Ito), Quincy's faithful co-worker, takes the reins and finds something fishy about Quincy's condition when everyone else sees no need for suspicion. Hearing this, homicide detective Lt. Frank Monahan (Garry Walberg) says, "You're pullin' a Quincy on me and you ain't Quincy!"

Early season episodes focused on criminal investigation; a typical episode would find Quincy determining the real murderer in a crime or the real cause of an unusual poisoning case. Later season episodes began to introduce themes of social responsibility; Quincy would find himself involved with a police investigation that reveals situations such as a disreputable plastic surgeon and the reasons his poor surgery aren't stopped, flaws in drunk driving laws, or airline safety, and makes a point about what ought be done about it. Quincy, M.E. was one of the earlier dramatic series to use a format like this to suggest a social agenda.

Although Quincy studies bodies in-depth at his lab, he also does plenty of police investigation work technically outside the role of a coroner for the purposes of the show. He could be considered a workaholic. In every episode where he goes on vacation, it's always interrupted by an intrigue that requires his skills. He then provides copious hours of free work to solve the case. He is insistent on being intensely thorough in all his work.

A popular guy, Quincy lives on a houseboat, frequents "Danny's" pub, and is popular with ladies.

The show was based on a Canadian series, Wojeck, broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the 1960s.

The Quincy Punks

An honorable mention must go to the most notorious example of the social agenda episodes: Next Stop Nowhere involves the "dangers" of punk music. Quincy's preaching against the genre apparently didn't have much effect... one band even named themselves The Quincy Punx in "tribute".

The episode features a band singing the immortal lyrics -

"Saw a blind man the other day/ Took his pencils and ran away"

On the floor, as the band plays, a punkette asks Quincy, "You work here?" and Quincy says "No. I'm with the Coroner's Office." The Punkette replies: "Oh sure, I've heard you guys play. You got a great band."

The episode is considered one of the cult classics of what is known now as "SquareTV" (a "genre", if it can be called that, of tv programs which have gone on crusades against punks, Hippies and aspects of popular culture in general).

Trivia

Quincy's first name was never mentioned during the entire Quincy, M.E. TV show run. In episode #33, "Accomplice To Murder", however, his business card was seen with his name written as "Doctor R. Quincy". Jack Klugman says that the question he's most often asked by fans is, "What is Quincy's first name?". He answers, "Doctor"!

Quincy had a highly successful medical practice of his own before joining the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

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