Main cast: David McCallum (Boyle the Feverman), Patrick Garner (Dr James Burke), John C Vennema (Timothy Mason), Michele Gornick (Mason’s daughter), and Abby Lewis (The Housekeeper)
Director: Michael Gornick
Monsters is another one of the many anthology TV series that were the fad in the 1980s, and this one has a cute premise: the shows in this series are actually TV shows viewed in an alternate dimension where spooks, rather than humans, walk the Earth. If The Feverman is anything to go by, it’s nowhere as dark or cynical as some of the shows out there, and it’s also nowhere as dripping with T&A as some of the other shows out there. It’s nice to have a middle ground once in a while instead of all “Sleazy! Sexy!” or all “Gory! Disgusting!” at once, so hey, why not give this one a try?
The Feverman is actually a simple story. Timothy Mason is desperate, as his daughter is struck with a fever that looks to be fatal, and no doctor knows of a cure. He seeks out the Feverman, a near-mythical fellow that has existed for hundreds of years, who can cure any fever… for a high price. They are pursued by Dr James Burke, who can’t offer a cure but is disgusted nonetheless by the thought of a desperate father turning to what he considers quackery to heal his dying daughter. I mean, won’t someone think of the feelings of “real” doctors? How inconsiderate. As you can imagine, the Feverman is willing to do this thing, but Burke just has to meddle and seriously ruins everything.
Yes, this one dumps on modern medicine like a hippo with food poisoning on a purging spree. Mind you, despite my medical background, I’m not entirely against this premise: there are many things that still can’t be explained or cured by what we call “modern medicine”, and sometimes what we call “quackery” works. My stance on this is simple: just be open to all the healthcare people on what you are using – remember, in the end, it’s your body and your health and hence, your choice so always do your research first and get second, third opinions before committing to anything – so that if side effects or worse come up, then these people will know how to help you deal with them. Also, the dodgy and mercenary attitudes of the pharmaceutical companies also give that industry some well-deserved mistrust and contempt, so there’s that.
However, this episode does the whole dumping on modern medicine in broad, caricature strokes that isn’t smart or interesting. While David McCallum is delightful to watch, his role is written to be more of an over the top sarcastic soapbox that it’s hard to take him seriously, while Burke is the caricature of the greedy, hypocritical doctor that is done to death without anything interesting to make this character memorable. The twist is predictable, and the last five minutes or so feel dragged out to pad the running time long after the momentum has reached its peak.
Not that this is a terrible episode: the cast is solid, and there is nothing particularly terrible about the whole thing. Yet, there’s also nothing terribly memorable or inventive either. It’s a bland kind of okay, hence the very epitome of a three-oogie episode.