A Spoonful of Sugar with "Dr. Quinn"
- Indian Comics Irregular #180
I never watched "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" when it was on the air, but I've begun watching it on DVD. It's one of the best shows in US television history in terms of Native portraits--maybe the best. Indians play a role in most of the first season's episodes.
Curiously, the well-intentioned show mixes positive portrayals with questionable choices and attitudes. Here are some highlights and lowlights from the first season:
* In the two-part pilot episode, the people of Colorado Springs won't let Dr. Quinn touch them, but the Cheyenne let her perform an emergency tracheotomy on Chief Black Kettle.
* In episode 3, Dr. Quinn resists the idea of using Indian medicine to cure an epidemic, but comes around when it heals her.
* In episode 9, Sully (Dr. Quinn's love interest) helps a drunken Cheyenne in a traveling medicine show regain his lost pride.
* In episode 11, a few bad men are killing the buffalo to make way for a railroad. Once they're out of the way, Dr. Quinn and company welcome the idea of progress.
* In episode 12, General Custer threatens to execute Sully's friend Cloud Dancing, but he's only kidding. The townspeople continue to prepare for a big dance as if a dead Indian won't bother them.
* In episode 14, Cloud Dancing leads Dr. Quinn's boy Matthew on a vision quest to prove he's a man. The tribe apparently has nothing better to do than aid this endeavor.
* In episode 18, Indians attack a photographer with stones when he tries to take their picture, even though they agreed to be photographed.
In "Dr. Quinn," the townspeople experience moments of prejudice against Indians, blacks, immigrants, prostitutes and their children. But any animosity disappears by the end of the hour. Racism is the easiest illness to cure in this series.
But with all these good feelings, Indians continue to suffer. As I wrote in Newspaper Rock, they seem to be victims of forces beyond anyone's control. Although "our town" is full of decent people, someone somewhere is doing something bad.
For more on "Dr. Quinn," go to http://www.bluecorncomics.com/drquinn.htm .
The casting controversies continue. In "Avatar: The Last Airbender," M. Night Shyamalan chose Anglos to play the Asian and Inuit characters. Actor Jackson Rathbone claimed he could handle his Native role by getting a tan.
Ben Kingsley has agreed to portray Charles Curtis, Kaw Indian and US vice president, in an upcoming movie. It's about three Wyandot sisters who protected a cemetery from development.
Non-Native starlet Vanessa Hudgens was rumored to be under consideration for a part in "New Moon," the "Twilight" sequel. The contretemps over her and Taylor Lautner apparently impelled the producers to hold a casting call for actual Natives.
As expected, "Frozen River" didn't win the two Academy Awards it was nominated for. But actress Melissa Leo and producer Heather Rae did receive Spirit Awards for the independent film. Congratulations.
For once, Indians got some screen time in the annual Oscar telecast. Misty Upham appeared in a "Frozen River" clip and Saginaw Grant appeared in a MasterCard commercial. Also, Jessica Biel (part Choctaw) took the stage to describe the Sci-Tech awards.
You can read the latest movie news and reviews at http://www.bluecorncomics.com/namovies.htm .
Blue Corn Comics