Burt Prelutsky

I enjoy watching baseball on television, especially when the Yankees are playing. It’s not just the opportunity to watch Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez play the game the way it’s supposed to be played, but the opportunity it provides to listen to the best team of announcers in the business -- Michael Kay, Jim Kaat, and Ken Singleton. Even on those occasions when the Yankees lose, it’s my favorite form of TV fare. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the very few things I bother watching.

Once in a while, I’ll tune in an old movie if it’s on Turner Movie Classics because it means I won’t have to suffer through a slew of commercials. And I’m certainly not immune to the temptations of the “Law & Order” franchise.

But, clearly, I’m not the norm. Understand, I’m not making judgments. If after a hard day at work, you feel like devoting several hours a night to “American Idol,” “Desperate Housewives,” and the mélange of so-called reality shows, it’s no concern of mine. I say, live and let live, watch and let watch.

However, there is one genre whose popularity totally mystifies and even, yes, annoys me. What is it with you people and medical shows? How is it that I and every other normal human being hates going to the hospital even if it’s just to bring candy and flowers to someone who has to be there, but when it comes to TV, you can’t seem to get your fill of smocks and surgical masks?

Let some actor with a stethoscope dangling from his pocket holler, “Code red!” or let some actress run down a corridor carrying those electrical paddles, and you folks start drooling like Pavlov’s dogs.

Westerns came and went, variety shows enjoyed a vogue, even sit coms sort of disappeared until “The Cosby Show” put them back on the map, but even as far back as the 50s, medical shows have been a staple of the medium. Off the top of my head, without resorting to reference material, I bet I can come up with a dozen of them, even though I didn’t watch them. That’s because almost without exception, they were hits, and they hung around for so long that one couldn’t help being aware of them. There was “Medic,” “Marcus Welby,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Medical Center,” “Ben Casey,” “St. Elsewhere,” “AfterMASH,” “Emergency,” “The Nurses,” “ER,” “Chicago Hope,” “House,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.”