Picket Fences

Season 1 Episode 16

The Body Politic

1
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Feb 05, 1993 on CBS
8.0
out of 10
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19 votes
1

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Episode Summary

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An HIV-positive dentist sues the city of Rome after being fired. A man and his mother-in-law battle over whether to keep his brain-dead pregnant wife alive, until she can give birth to the child. Meanwhile Kenny tries dating twins.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Jimmy becomes suspicious that the contracted town dentist has HIV. The mayor fires him when it is shown true. Also, a new resident is found to be harboring the comatose body of his wife in order to allow her to give birth.moreless

    8.6
    Wow, if nothing else, that is how I would describe the final minutes and the last scene of this episode. I will describe why in more detail in the closing paragraph.



    During the open scene, a dentist contracted by the town to give weekly checkups at the school becomes agitated after Zach Brock bites him. Jimmy then confronts the doctor later, asking if he is HIV positive. When the doctor doesn't respond, Jimmy talks to Jill and finds out that it is true. Jimmy and the mayor then confer and give the dentist an ultimatum: either he discloses this information to the public, or he resigns, or they fire him. He doesn't relent to the first two and is instead fired. He takes his case to the courts because he feels he was discriminated. Tensions between Jill and Jimmy begin to rise because Jill knew of this and continued to send her children to the dentist, even though she knows Jimmy would not allow it if he knew. In the other story, Howard believes he sees his new neighbor bringing a corpse into his house. When Maxine confronts the man, he refuses to allow a search of his home, leading Maxine to request a search warrant from Judge Bone. Upon inspection of the property, they find the legally dead, but machine run body of the man's wife. He is keeping her alive so that she may carry her pregnancy to term. The mother of the woman shows up and demands that he daughters will be carried out; that she be taken off life support.



    In the final court room scene, Judge Henry Bone allows the body to be sustained in order to provide the life insider of her. He came to this conclusion after seeing that her lisence says she is an organ donor and he felt that is what she is doing; using her organs to bring life to fruition. In the second ruling, Judge Bone rules that the Mayor was wrong in his decision and that there is no law that says a doctor must reveal that he is HIV positive. Judge Bone concludes by saying that HIV prejudice will always be prevailing and the only thing the dentist can do is to push on.



    As I said, the final courtroom scene was very moving and the writing was very top notch for Judge Bone. It certainly elevated the episode to a higher pedestal. While in all of the other episodes such as this, we do see into the lives of the people on trial, there was a very poignant conversation in the middle of the episode. The dentist showed up at the hospital to see the woman and her husband; the woman represented life and death at the same time, and the dentist just had to see it for himself to appreciate his own mortality. I think this was a nice touch instead of always having one of the main or supporting actors as the focus of every scene. This is a recommended episode for, if nothing else, the final scenes. Though I have never watched his later shows, it is evident that David E. Kelly and his trusted writers are able to craft excellent courtroom fare.moreless
Holly Marie Combs

Holly Marie Combs

Kimberly Brock

Lauren Holly

Lauren Holly

Officer Maxine Stewart

Adam Wylie

Adam Wylie

Zachary Brock

Kathy Baker

Kathy Baker

Dr. Jill Brock

Tom Skerritt

Tom Skerritt

Sheriff Jimmy Brock

Costas Mandylor

Costas Mandylor

Officer Kenny Lacos

Gary Frank

Gary Frank

Thomas Bufell

Guest Star

Joel Polis

Joel Polis

Bob Taymer

Guest Star

Claudette Nevins

Claudette Nevins

Claudia Graham

Guest Star

Fyvush Finkel

Fyvush Finkel

Douglas Wambaugh

Recurring Role

Zelda Rubinstein

Zelda Rubinstein

Ginny Weedon

Recurring Role

Robert Cornthwaite

Robert Cornthwaite

Howard Buss

Recurring Role

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