Alienated (Diagnosis Murder episode)

Diagnosis Murder

Diagnosis Murder is a mystery/medical/crime drama television series starring Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son, a homicide detective played by his real-life son Barry Van Dyke. The series began as a spin-off of Jake and the Fatman (Dr. Mark Sloan made his first appearance in episode 4.19 "It Never Entered My Mind"), became a series of three TV movies, and then a weekly television series that debuted on CBS on October 29, 1993. The series struggled at first and was almost canceled at the end of the second season, it returned as a midseason replacement in the third season, and was regularly renewed thereafter. 178 episodes were made and aired in the show's eight seasons on the CBS network in the United States and two more TV movies aired after the series' cancellation on May 11, 2001. Since 1997, the popular show used to air in reruns on ABC Family (formerly The Family Channel). Currently, Diagnosis: Murder airs Sundays on the Hallmark Channel. in America, weekdays on the Hallmark Channel (UK) and BBC One in the United Kingdom and weekdays on Foxtel's TV1 channel in Australia. The show was produced by Viacom Productions and is currently distributed by CBS Television Distribution, the syndication arm of CBS Paramount Television.

In the Jake and the Fatman episode, Dr. Mark Sloan was a widower with no sons and Ally Walker played Dr. Amanda Bently, a role that went to Cynthia Gibb in the TV movies and, finally, Victoria Rowell in the TV series. That wasn't the only casting change. Stephen Caffrey played Dr. Jack Stewart in the movies, a role that went to Scott Baio in the weekly series.

The first three TV movies were shot in Vancouver, B.C. The first two seasons of the series were shot in Denver, CO and all the subsequent seasons in Los Angeles.


The plot centered around Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke), a renowned physician who occasionally worked for the local police department as a consultant, and who could not resist a good mystery or a friend in need. Those cases often involved his son, Detective Steve Sloan (played by Van Dyke's real-life son Barry Van Dyke). Helping him were his colleagues, medical examiner/pathologist Dr. Amanda Bentley (Victoria Rowell) and Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio), who later left and was replaced by a new resident, Dr. Jesse Travis (Charlie Schlatter).


  • Dr. Mark Sloan (Dick Van Dyke), Chief of Internal Medicine at Community General Hospital, and protagonist of the series. Son of a cop and father of another, in whose cases he often got involved. He is medical consultant to the LAPD. Dick Van Dyke was considered for the lead role after the positive reviews he received from his dramatic role in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy (although the character he played in the movie was villainous and very different from the role of Mark Sloan). In the pilot the character had interests in tap dance and clarinet playing; however, these were considered distracting and were toned down and eventually removed from the character as the series developed.
  • Lieutenant Detective Steve Sloan (Barry Van Dyke), a police detective (later lieutenant) in the Robbery/Homicide Division of the LAPD and Dr. Mark Sloan's son. After an earthquake destroyed his apartment, he lived in a separate apartment in his father's beach house in Malibu. Steve often uses his patented dive to apprehend criminals.
  • Dr. Amanda Bentley (Cynthia Gibb) in the T.V. Movies set before the series, later Bentley-Livingston (Victoria Rowell), resident Pathologist at Community General Hospital and assistant County Medical Examiner, who is also Dr. Mark Sloan's straightwoman and medical partner, involving in each of Mark's & Steve's cases, after the accident. As a favorable character of the show, she also dated Jack and was later Jesse's best friend. During the series, she married a military man, and had a son named C.J. Depending on the episode, she divorced him or he was killed in a plane crash. Later in the series, she adopted another boy, Deon.
  • Dr. Jack Stewart (Scott Baio, 1993-1995, seasons 1-2), a doctor at Community General Hospital and Steve's best friend, whom he often helped in his cases. He left to open his own practice in Colorado.
  • Dr. Jesse Travis (Charlie Schlatter, 1995-2001, seasons 3-8), a resident at Community General Hospital who Mark took under his wing. He often got involved in Mark and Steve's cases, with good intentions but not always good results.
  • Norman Briggs (Michael Tucci, 1993-1997, seasons 1-4), administrator at Community General Hospital and a close friend of Dr. Mark Sloan, even though he is often exasperated by him.
  • Delores Mitchell (Delores Hall, 1993-1995, seasons 1-2), Dr. Sloan's lively secretary.


One unique aspect of the series was that it frequently appropriated characters from various classic television series.

Over the run of the show, various episodes guest starred at least eight different members of the Van Dyke family:

  • Dick Van Dyke and son Barry Van Dyke in the lead roles.
  • Dick's brother, Jerry Van Dyke.
  • One of Dick's daughters, Stacy Van Dyke.
  • Barry's children: Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke, Wes Van Dyke, and Taryn Van Dyke.
  • Rob Petrie (Van Dyke himself from the Dick Van Dyke Show) features in a cameo in one episode where Dr. Sloan is in a radio station, and walks past a studio where (through a bit of CGI magic), Rob is (failing at) being a radio DJ!

Smaller recurring roles

  • Joanna Cassidy (Season 7) plays Madison Wesley, a doctor friend of Mark Sloan, and Dean of Community General's Medical School. She is in 8 episodes.
  • Kim Little (Season 6) plays Susan Hillard, Jesse's long time girlfriend, for 11 episodes.
  • Susan Gibney (Seasons 5-7) plays Detective Tanis Archer, Steve's partner in over 7 episodes.
  • Charmin Lee (Seasons 7-8) is Steve's second partner Cheryl, who is in 7 episodes between seasons 7 and 8.
  • Martin Kove (Seasons 6-7) is Captain Newman, for 5 episodes.
  • Shane Van Dyke (Seasons 4-8) is Alex Smith, the third year medical student, who appears in 14 episodes. He is also seen as a boxing student in Never Say Die and an actor in Frontier Dad. (Both these episodes star the rest of Barry Van Dyke's children also.)
  • Carey Van Dyke (Seasons 4-8) plays various characters: Mr. Kelso, Terry Marshall, Kyle Lewis, Brendan Kelly, Carl Simpson, and Craig Wilson.
  • Kevin McNally (Seasons 3-8) as the ubiquitous EMT in 19 episodes.
  • Tim Conway plays Tim Conrad, an old friend of Mark's. Also a comedian in over 4 episodes.
  • Harry J. Lennix (Seasons 5-6) stars Agent Ron Wagner, in 6 episodes.

Special guest stars


Diagnosis: Murder had a total of eight seasons and 178 episodes which were broadcast on CBS between 1993 and 2001.


Community General Hospital

Community General Hospital is the main set for the show. It is six to seven floors depending on the episode. It holds about 400 beds, with three trauma rooms, two psych wards, and one Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Mark Sloan is Chief of Internal Medicine. The Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills, California was used as the exterior of Community General Hospital in the final, three seasons of the show (it was also used as a casino in the pilot for CSI).

BBQ Bob's

BBQ Bob's is a restaurant that Jesse Travis and Steve Sloan co-own starting in the sixth season. Mark Sloan is also a silent partner. It is located in a small strip mall very close to Community General Hospital. Other stores around it include a jewelery store, travel agency and a bank. It is often frequented by the hospital staff as an alternative to the hospital cafe. All staff members get discounts. The exterior of BBQ Bob's was based on a storefront at the Whizin's Center in Agoura, California, where exterior scenes of BBQ Bobs were occasionally filmed.

TV movies

Diagnosis Murder had five TV movies between 1992 and 2002, three of which aired prior to the TV series.


Between 2003 and 2007, there have been eight original novels published based on the TV series. All of them were written by Lee Goldberg, a former executive producer and writer on the TV series. According to his website, there will be no more books based on the show. The books are, in order:

  • Diagnosis Murder: The Silent Partner
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Death Merchant
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Shooting Script
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Waking Nightmare
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Past Tense
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Dead Letter
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Double Life
  • Diagnosis Murder: The Last Word

The book The Past Tense is a prequel to the Diagnosis Murder episode Voices Carry, which guest-starred Jack Klugman as Harry Trumble, and chronicles Dr. Mark Sloan's first homicide investigation. The final book in the series, The Last Word, is a sequel of sorts to the episodes Obsession and Resurrection and features the return of Carter Sweeney, who was played by Arye Gross in the TV series. The character of Lt. Ben Kealoha in The Death Merchant reappears in the Monk novel [Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii], which was also written by Goldberg.


DVD releases

On September 12, 2006, CBS Home Entertainment released the complete Season 1 of Diagnosis: Murder on Region 1 DVD. The set included the Jake and the Fatman episode 4.19, "It Never Entered My Mind," which introduced the character of Dr. Mark Sloan. It did not however, include the TV movies that were made prior to the show's premiere. Seasons 2 and 3 are also now available. After two years since the release of the first season on Region 1 DVD, a Region 2 DVD of Diagnosis: Murder - Series 1 was released on May 5th 2008, according to

DVD Cover Art DVD Release Episodes Originally aired Release date
Region 1 Region 2
The Complete First Season 19 1993-1994 September 12, 2006 May 5, 2008
The Complete Second Season 22 1994-1995 June 12, 2007 n/a
The Complete Third Season 18 1995-1996 December 4, 2007 n/a

See also


External links

TV movies

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