Would a Sector General tv series be popular?

I’ve been rereading the Sector General series by James White, and I started wondering if a TV series based on them would work. For those who aren’t familiar the central premise is a huge space hospital, set up to take all kinds of aliens, and consequently has a lot of stuff going on at any one time. White was a firm pacifist, so there’s no real violence-indeed the idea of it is repugnant to many of the characters. The budget of course would be enormous, and of course the sexism would be taken out.

They’re quite fun even if the show wouldn’t work, so check them out regardless.

They tried it once, although AFAIK, it wasn’t based on the James White novels.

I think I only ever saw one episode, and don’t really recall if it was any good or not. Got cancelled after eight episodes, though, which isn’t a great sign.

The trouble would be that the majority of the human race is woefully uninformed as to what illnesses ail aliens, and therefore all these traumas and treatments would have to be imaginary.

I haven’t read the books in a long time – the only sexism I remember is most of the do-something characters being male (regardless of species) – were you thinking of something else?

That is not trouble, that is creative opportunity. It is also – DUH! – pretty much the essence of White’s SG stories: Made-up treatments for made-up ailments afflicting made-up species. That, and made-up social and psychological characteristics of said species (e.g., Kelgians are like man-sized woolly caterpillars, and the involuntary movement of their hair-bristles perfectly reveals their emotions to other Kelgians, therefore they are psychologically incapable of lying or even being polite, at least to the extent politeness involves dissembling one’s true feelings, because they never had occasion to develop those skills).

"And now… because we can’t find a cure for acute vlobbetry Qufj’nnnplig!!!hivtwark’s 83 wives will be without a husband, and his 9000 children without a father. Sometimes I hate this job."*

One of the best parts of one of the best episodes of original Star Trek was when Dr. McCoy figured out how to treat the Horta. Many of the best Star Trek riffs involved sick bay, the various doctors, and alien mystery diseases.

If they could come up with something that clever, week after week, it could be a darn nifty series.

Stretch and pad with some soap-opera subplots, maybe toss in some power politics behind the scenes – “You’ve got to heal him; he’s the only diplomat who can stop the upcoming war” – and it could be right fine.

And yet, some how, it’s still never lupus. Not even space lupus. :smiley:

FWIW, I thought James White never really got enough SF cred. “Tableau” is probably the best and most concise SF indictment of warfare I’ve ever read, even including Haldeman and ilk.

The idea that women couldn’t be Diagnositicans (high-level doctors with multiple “tapes” of alien biology in their heads) because the female brain was different. Male characters telling the females to not worry their “pretty little heads.” It was pretty condescending stuff. Didn’t spoil the stories, but did make them a little sour.

There’s also the goofy idea that in this huge hospital, filled with the most advanced technology from dozens of space-traveling civilizations … nobody has invented the elevator!

Of course, that would destroy one of the most common situations in this series, where the protagonist has to spend an inordinate amount of time getting to the needed place in the hospital, or the needed specialist is too far away and somebody who is there has to step in and save the day, etc. But the suspension of belief that this requires becomes rather grating to me.

Also, seems like this would be a pretty expensive series to make: the sets required would be massive, and the make-up bill would be exorbitant! Though maybe modern digital CGI techniques might make it more reasonable.

Indeed, Rubber-Forehead Aliens are no longer required as a money-saver. However, the artistic challenge of making sympathetic/empathetic characters of Starfish Aliens remains. Let’s face it, as humans we’re hardwired to relate that way only to something that has two eyes in horizontal alignment above a mouth. (Which most of White’s ETs do have, but not all.)

Really? I seem to recall that most of White’s ET’s as having more than two eyes, and in some cases more than one mouth! I remember a scene where Conway (the Earth-human protagonist in most of the stories) was having a conversation over lunch with one of his alien colleagues. Conway at one point almost choked, talking with his mouth full, and his friend chastised him: “Why couldn’t you have evolved separate orificies for talking and eating?”

Funny story: I actually talked with James White at L.A. Con III about the fact that he always referred to his alien doctors with the pronoun “it” as opposed to “he” or “she”. He remarked that some of the races have more than two genders, and at least one where the individual switched genders as part of its natural life cycle. Needless to say, I conceded that point.

So it seems to me that at least one alien species can have “female” Diagnosticians, simply because the one became a D when one was male and became female later.

The problem with elevators in Sector General: it’s a multi-environment hospital. I suppose they could design the elevators to announce: “70th floor…Chlorine, Methane, Sulfur Dioxide…watch your breath…”