Screen Savors: A doctor in the rear

They say that life imitates art. Sometimes it's the other way around, as my wife and I discovered when we recently tuned into Channel 8's fun new program, Doctorology.

leslie nielsen 88 (photo credit: )
leslie nielsen 88
(photo credit: )
They say that life imitates art. Sometimes it's the other way around, as my wife and I discovered when we recently tuned into Channel 8's fun new program, Doctorology, which offers a comical and informed look at various medical specialties. As it happens, there we were learning about the ins and outs of a colonoscopy on a segment devoted to gastroenterology just a month after having undergone the test ourselves. Having thought we'd put all that behind us, so to speak, wouldn't you know it, we relived the whole fun experience - from the lovely preparations to the dirty deed itself. Truth is, folks, it's not as bad as it seems and all of us over age 50 should have one done. But watching it all on TV makes for one fascinating summer night. Leslie Nielsen, known to all spoof-lovers from such movies as Airplane and The Naked Gun series, appears here as the devoted if somewhat distracted doctor of Robert (David Lawrence), his nephew and a medical student. Nielsen's determined to teach him about all the medical specialties before his nephew commits himself to one. The Canadian series is a fast-moving mixture of bad puns, interviews with real doctors and nurses and an array of graphics that both inform and entertain. Some jokes just have to be excused, like Robert's groaner of an introduction to the segment on gastroenterology: "This episode's got guts - we're cooking with gas because today it's all about gastroenterology." On the other hand, one does wonder how much ether was in the nurse's system who described the human bowel as one of the most beautiful parts of the body. While some of the gags are decidedly sophomoric - like uncle and nephew boarding an elevator full of gastro patients, with the expected flatulent result - the jokes help the viewer consume the science. This irritable bowel syndrome patient learned something about his own condition, as well as about Crohn's Disease and ulcerative colitis. Then came time for colonoscopy corner with Robert warning that there is "penetration in this episode - about five feet of it." Reliving our own experience wasn't so bad, even while watching the endoscope dance and dive at the command of a real doctor demonstrating just how that little devil does its dirty work. And boy, could we relate when Robert had to drink a gallon of laxative, which the producers had labeled "Loosen Up." Despite his precarious state, Robert still managed to offer some advice regarding the need for such a procedure: "If your butt trumpet is leading the band more than 20 times a day, get yourself checked out." The actual presentation of the colonoscopy was tastefully done, featuring interviews with real patients, who all stressed that the procedure was far less bothersome than they had thought. Nielsen's klutzy role was mostly limited to pressing the wrong button while Robert was being given his barium enema, and commenting about traffic outside the medical center with observations such as, "It's the worst rear-ender I've ever seen," which his nephew thought were related to his examination. Still, as in Channel 8's Brainiacs and other imported science shows, cheeky is great as a teaching aid. The show's other ace is its look at cool new technology, like a look at a virtual colonoscopy's pill-cam's trip from mouth to anus. We also learned about mini-robots that might soon be going on a fantastic voyage through your digestive system, this time without Raquel Welch. Originally airing on Canada's Discovery Channel, Doctorology is definitely a fun way to learn a little bit more about those long, daunting names listed on medical center signs and M.D. business cards. The jokes are a bit obvious, but help take the fear out of some medical procedures that we all should be more aware of. And, if nothing else, we learn that even having a long tube crammed up your bum is a situation ripe for comedy. Airs on Channel 8, Sunday through Thursday at 7:10 p.m.