The Psychiatrist

NBC (ended 1971)


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The Psychiatrist

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Roy Thinnes was appealing and convincing as a serious young psychiatrist in the six episodes of this 1971 series. Luther Adler played Thinnes' mentor. "The Psychiatrist" was one of four hour-long series making up "Four in One". The other series were "McCloud" with Dennis Weaver, "Rod Serling's Night Gallery", and "San Francisco International Airport" with Lloyd Bridges and Clu Gulager. Roy Thinnes was thirty-two years old when this series was made. This was his third prime time series after playing Ben Quick in "The Long Hot Summer" (1965-66) and David Vincent in Quinn Martin's "The Invaders" (1967-68). Executive producer Norman Felton ("Dr. Kildare", "The Man From Uncle") was updating his previous superb psychiatry series "The Eleventh Hour" (1962-64). Roy Thinnes had guest starred in a strong episode of "The Eleventh Hour" about family therapy along with Angela Lansbury, Martin Balsam, Tuesday Weld, and Don Grady. Twenty-eight year old Jerrold Freedman was the ambitious producer of "The Psychiatrist". Freedman now writes novels under the name J. F. Freedman, and is hoping to have one of his detective novels turned into a TV movie. The creators of "The Psychiatrist" were Richard Levinson and William LInk ("Columbo"). Steven Spielberg (at 24) brilliantly directed two of the six episodes. One of Spielberg's episodes was about a troubled 12-year old boy and the other was about a young golfer (Clu Gulager) dying of cancer. It would be a fine footnote to film history if Spielberg's two dazzling episodes of "The Psychiatrist" were captured on DVD. The other four episodes of "The Psychiatrist" also had talented directors: Daryl Duke ("Payday", "The Thorn Birds"), Jeff Corey, Douglas Day Stewart, and producer Jerrold Freedman ("A Cold Night's Death"). Joe Alves, Jr. was the art director of "The Psychiatrist". Alves went on to be art director of "The Sugarland Express" and production designer of "Jaws" and "Close Enounters of the Third Kind".moreless
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  • Two beautifully directed episodes by Steven Spielberg make this show impossible to forget.

    Executive Producer Norman Felton ("Dr. Kildare", "Man from Uncle") had previously made a show about a psychiatrist and a psychologist called "The Eleventh Hour" (1962-64). Roy Thinnes had co-starred in one episode along with Angela Lansbury, Martin Balsam, and Tuesday Weld. Felton tried to update his old show with this series starring Thinnes as mod, young psychiatrist James Whitman and Luther Adler as his mentor/superior.

    (Luther Adler was a descendant of the great psychiatrist Alfred Adler.)

    Jerrold Freedman was a promising writer/director at Universal who served as line producer of "The Psychiatrist". Steven Spielberg was under contract to Universal at the time and had directed the Joan Crawford section of the "Night Gallery" pilot and a Gene Barry segment of "Name of the Game" called "LA 2017". Neither of Spielberg's first two TV directing experiences had been particularly happy (although the results were far from bad). Producer William Sackheim had to take away the "Night Gallery" from Spielberg because he went way over budget. Freedman asked Speilberg to work on "The Psychiatrist" and to do whatever he wanted with minimum interference. Spielberg rewarded Freedman's faith with two brilliant episodes.

    The first was "The Private War of Martin Dalton" starring Stephen Hudis as rebellious youngster Martin Dalton with Jim Hutton and Kate Woodville as his concerned but somewhat remote parents. Spielberg was already in his element dealing with lonely, angry children.

    The second episode featured superb performances by Clu Gulagher as a golf pro who is dying of cancer and Joan Darling as his wife. Spielberg should have won the Emmy for his sensitive work on this episode (although he wasn't even nominated.) It was clear from this episode that Spielberg had a brilliant future-although not necessarily as an action director.

    "The Psychiatrist" was one of two great limited series in 1970-71. The other was "The Senator" with Hal Holbrook. With the "failure" of "The Senator" and "The Psychiatrist", television completely gave up on serious series drama for the rest of the decade. It took Steven Bochco to bring back ambitous drama with "Hill Street Blues" in the 80's.moreless