Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman is a multi-Emmy Award winning American, western/drama series created by Beth Sullivan. Set in the American Old West, it stars Jane Seymour as a doctor who sets up her own practice in 1860s Colorado.
The show ran on CBS for six seasons, from January 1, 1993 to May 16, 1998. In total, 150 episodes were produced, plus two television movies which were made after the series' cancellation. It aired in over 100 countries. Since 1997, due to the show's popularity, in the US, reruns have been shown in syndication and on ABC Family (formerly The Family Channel), ION Television (formerly i: Independent Television and PAX TV) and the Hallmark Channel.
The series begins in the year 1867 and centers on a proper and wealthy female physician from Boston, Massachusetts: Michaela Quinn, also called Dr. Mike (played by British actress Jane Seymour). After the death of her father Josef Quinn, Dr. Mike sets out west to the small wild west town of Colorado Springs, to set up her own practice. She makes the difficult adjustment to life in Colorado with the aid of rugged outdoorsman and friend to the Cheyenne Byron Sully (American actor Joe Lando) and a midwife named Charlotte Cooper (played by Diane Ladd). After Charlotte is bitten by a rattlesnake, she asks Michaela on her deathbed to look after her three children, Matthew (played by Chad Allen), Colleen (played by Erika Flores and later Jessica Bowman) and Brian (played by Shawn Toovey). Dr. Mike settles in Colorado Springs and adapts to her new life as a mother with the children while eventually finding love with Sully. Furthermore, she casts herself into a one-woman mission to convince the townspeople that a female doctor can successfully practice medicine.
Jane Seymour was cast as Michaela Quinn at the last minute, after she was given the script to read the day before production was to begin on the pilot. She was instructed to read the script and make a decision whether or not to commit to the contract. Seymour is quoted as saying she was moved to tears by the script and the next day began fittings for costumes.
The pilot episode was shot in early 1992 and finally aired in a 2-hour special on January 1, 1993. CBS aired a second hour-long episode of Dr. Quinn the next night to grab the audience' attention. Expectations for the show were low due to its being aired alongside the Orange Bowl that year. Initially critics panned the series and predicted that it would be quickly cancelled. Therefore, the pilot served as a made for television movie that could either be developed into a series or stand alone as a single 2-hour movie. Ratings for the pilot and first episode were high and the show was immediately picked up for an entire season. Certain members of the pilot supporting cast were replaced.
The romance between Michaela and Sully was widely popular with audiences and can be attributed to Jane Seymour and Joe Lando's chemistry on screen. In the season 3 finale entitled "For Better or Worse", they were married in a special two-hour episode, which gained huge ratings and was highly publicized in magazines and on television. In season 4, Jane Seymour's actual pregnancy with husband James Keach was written into the show which resulted in another highly rated episode with the birth of Michaela and Sully's daughter, Katie.
The large supporting cast were all given the opportunity to develop their own characters and were often permitted to make suggestions and contribute ideas to the writers.
Dr. Quinn was one of the few dramatic shows to allow fans access to their filming sites at the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, California. Fans were permitted to come and watch the filming of episodes each week. Members of the cast would often talk to their fans and sign autographs during breaks in filming and developed a unique bond with their primary fanbase. Many of these fans went on to create the "Dr Quinn Times" which included a website and newsletter issued in which interviews with the cast, producers, directors and technical specialists were conducted and distributed to fans each month.
Jane Seymour and Barbara Babcock were the only cast members to receive Emmy nominations for their roles during the series. Seymour was nominated several times during the series' run while Babcock received a single nomination in 1995 for the episode entitled "Ladies Night" in which Dorothy Jennings undergoes a mastectomy. The show did win many technical awards as well as hair and make-up honors. Jane Seymour also won The Golden Globe for her portrayal of Michaela Quinn in 1996.
There were various cast changes of minor characters during the series. However, the most profiled change took place during the show's third season when the character of Colleen Cooper was recast halfway through the year. Unlike the other actors who signed 5-year contracts with the show, Erika Flores was hesitant. She held out for an increase in her salary and refused to sign a contract unless either she was offered a contract shorter than 5 years, or her salary could be increased. Rumors have circulated that Flores' father gave her an ultimatum to end her contract unless they offered her more money or he would cut her off financially. Flores has denied such rumors claiming that she left the series for personal reasons as well as to pursue other opportunities. Whatever the reasons, the actress was abruptly fired with little warning by CBS after the show declined to meet her requests. Beth Sullivan decided that she wanted the character to continue instead of being killed off or sent away. The decision to replace the actress halfway through a season is perplexing and has never been explained. However, it is speculated that the producers felt the switch should take place as soon as possible. As a result, Jessica Bowman was cast as the new Colleen in Flores' place after a desperate search for the right actress. Some of Erika Flores' fans were vocal in their anger over the change and wrote CBS demanding to know why the actress had been replaced. CBS issued the following statement to the press:
Official "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Web Site" - February 7, 1996
"Dear Viewers: Over the past several months we have received numerous letters regarding the re-casting of "Colleen" on our show. When this change occurred, we released a statement to the affect of, "Unwilling to commit to 5 years, Erika Flores is leaving the series to pursue other interests." Well, its now over one year and, the fact remains that Erika Flores left the show to pursue other interests. Now, what are those other interests? I can tell you its primarily school. She's auditioned for movies, but her primary focus, to our knowledge, is school. After all, she's only 16 years old. The events leading up to her decision to leave the show did include CBS's request that she sign a 5 year contract. Erika did not want to commit to that extended period of time, and CBS would not allow it (all the series regulars, including Jane Seymour, are required to sign a 5 year contract.) We, as producers of the show, were able to convince CBS to double Erika's salary in an attempt to keep her on the show. But she still was unwilling to commit to 5 years. This being the case, we had no other choice but to replace her. I hope that this will help clarify your questions about Erika Flores. She remains a very close friend of the show, often visiting the set for lunch,and we wish her all the best in her future pursuits.
Tim Johnson Producer, "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (c) 1996 CBS"
The producers of the show felt that Jessica Bowman had the ability to successfully recreate the character on her own. Though the tone of the character was somewhat changed to meet the personality of the actress, Jessica Bowman brought a maturity to the character that Erika's Colleen did not possess. She established a large following of loyal fans and became a favorite character. Today, Jessica Bowman's portrayal is considered by many fans to be the superior Colleen, though debates between fans still continue on various online forums particularly the Official Dr Quinn Medicine Woman Site.
Numerous cast changes occurred throughout the series though none quite as significant. Most notable was the replacement of Jane Wyman as Michaela's mother Elizabeth Quinn. Wyman signed on to play the role for the third episode of Dr Quinn in Season One. Sources claim that Seymour and Wyman did not get along during the shooting of the episode. Seymour herself joked about filming a scene with Wyman in a wagon on her DVD commentary when asked by Joe Lando why she did not return to the series. Later Wyman refused to return for another guest appearance in Season 2. Georgann Johnson was later hired to replace Wyman in the role and continued throughout the remainder of the series in one special guest appearance each season including the final Dr Quinn television movie to critical acclaim. She remains a fan favorite for her work on the series.
Michelle Bonilla played the role of Theresa Morales in Season Five and was later replaced by Alex Meneses in Season Six. Bonilla was extremely unpopular among fans of the series for her often harsh portrayal and unlikeable character. Numerous accounts claim that she and the other cast members did not get along and by the end of Season 5 she was released from her contract.
The most documented tension came at the end of the show's fifth season as Joe Lando was unhappy with both the show's and his character's direction. He seriously considered leaving the show and Beth Sullivan, who felt the show needed to be shaken up, openly stated Dr. Quinn could continue just fine with the Sully character killed off after a heated argument. Since it was not known if Joe Lando would return, the fifth season finale showed Sully being thrown over a cliff into a river leaving viewers wondering, along with Michaela Quinn, if he was dead or alive. This way, if Joe Lando did not return, Dr. Quinn would find Sully's body and the show would go on with Sully dead, or if Joe Lando returned they would find him alive and well. As winter turned into spring in the early months of 1997, it seemed likely Joe Lando would not return so John Schneider was asked to return to the show playing Sully's best friend Daniel Simon. John Schneider was intended to take Lando's place as the show's leading man and Michaela Quinn's new love interest. But, upon learning this, Dr. Quinn fans created a campaign, known as "Save Our Sully." However, by the time they were ready to film the season 6 premiere in the spring of 1997, and only after he was freed up to pursue other projects, Joe Lando agreed to return. He was given part-time status on the show and only appeared in several episodes. Although the episodes were spread out throughout the season, they were actually filmed over a period of several weeks and Joe Lando then only returned for the finale. Lando's limited participation in the sixth season as well as Jessica Bowman's absence due to her character being in college likely added to the decline in viewership.
Nevertheless, the series was suddenly cancelled in 1998 after its 6th season, much to the shock and anger of its fans. Both the show's star and producers had earlier claimed that CBS would produce a 7th season which all had agreed would be show's last. This would allow Sullivan and the writers to wrap up all the character storylines and give the show the send off many felt was deserved. However, with rumors circulating that Dr. Quinn would not be returning, the producers wrote and filmed a finale that attempted to tie up most loose ends with the marriage of Colleen and the resolved issues of many characters. To this day, CBS has never given a clear reason as to why Dr. Quinn was cancelled, though it claimed that the demographics had changed so much that they could no longer sell commercial time slots to advertisers. This was not the case, however, as the show was still one of the highest rated shows on Saturday nights. The most common held belief by Dr. Quinn and CBS insiders is that the network wanted to move away from its more family friendly programming and Dr. Quinn was first on the list. It is also known that several of CBS's top executives disliked Dr. Quinn a great deal and used the demographics excuse as reason to cancel it. During the 6th season, many fans complained after the show was put on hiatus several times and there was a sudden lack of promotion of when new episodes would air.
It seemed Dr. Quinn would not return again until CBS decided to give it another go.
A second movie entitled Dr Quinn: The Heart Within aired in May 2001. The movie was set a year after Revolutions, making it 9 years since the first episode of Dr. Quinn in the year 1876. This time around, CBS gave Beth Sullivan total creative control; however, there were some strong ground rules. To save money the movie had to be filmed in Canada, and only the principal cast could be involved. Jane Seymour also served as an executive producer. The plot revolved around Michaela and the Sully family returning to Boston to attend Colleen's graduation from Harvard Medical School. Having transferred from The Women's Medican College to the man dominated university since the series finale, Colleen has met harsh criticism from the board and her own father-in-law resents the fact that she continues to pursue medicine despite his misgivings. Unfortunately, Michaela's mother Elizabeth, played by Georgann Johnson, has fallen ill due to a heart condition and eventually dies leaving her estate to Michaela to establish a hospital in Colorado Springs. Colleen finds herself in a similar situation as her mother was in Boston nine years earlier, in that she is not respected or taken seriously as a woman doctor. The movie is a proper finale to the series, depicting the Cooper children finding their futures in Boston while Michaela returns to Colorado Springs to begin a new chapter in her life. While the movie was better received by fans, they did complain that more of the townspeople were not involved, due to CBS's demands, as well as the absence of Chad Allen's character Matthew (Allen declined to appear in the movie after he learned none of the show's supporting cast had been asked to star in it). Despite these criticisms, the movie beat out all its competition in the ratings coming in first place and was much more in nature of the actual series.
The show has enjoyed strong ratings in reruns. Dr. Quinn was one of the rare instances of a show entering rerun syndication in the middle of a TV season. It debuted reruns in most American markets on Monday, December 30, 1996, just two days shy of the show's 4th anniversary. With 4 seasons being the minimum requirement for syndication pickup, Dr. Quinn reruns could have started at the more traditional launch date of September 1996, but the show's distributor, like many, had an additional minimum episode limit in order for the show to be eligible for syndication. This episode count was not reached until several episodes into Dr Quinn's fifth season (1996-1997), and since stations had already purchased the show at the beginning of that season, the distributor decided not to hold off until the next fall and let the stations start airing reruns right away.
When PAX TV launched in August 1998, it acquired reruns of current family-friendly series from CBS, including Dr. Quinn. Seeing that diehard Dr. Quinn fans were up in arms over the show's cancellation by CBS that year, these national reruns via PAX did help to relieve the blow; especially in markets where local stations might have not been airing reruns in syndication.
Until late 2005, the Hallmark Channel aired it daily, but in late 2005 Hallmark removed Dr. Quinn from its lineup, citing a drop in viewership. It is also believed that the high cost in Dr. Quinn distribution rights also played a role in its removal. Dr. Quinn continues to be seen throughout the world and has been translated to several languages.
More recently Vision TV Canada began airing Dr Quinn Monday nights a 7PM.
It also airs on CHNU10 in the Lower Mainland of BC, Canada at 3 PM PST Weekdays.
In 2003, A&E Network managed to buy the distribution rights for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman from CBS. All six seasons plus the two made-for-TV movies have been released on DVD, and have enjoyed strong sales. Some fans, however, have expressed disappointment at the lack of many special features and the higher than usual cost of the DVDs.
Jane Seymour, Joe Lando, Chad Allen, and other cast members have stated they would all like to work together again and would reprise their Dr. Quinn roles if the opportunity arises. The show's creator, Beth Sullivan, has also stated her interest in writing another Dr. Quinn movie. However, Jane Seymour has gone on record stating that the current executives at CBS seem uninterested in bringing back Dr. Quinn, despite the continued popularity of the show.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date||Additional Information|
|Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season 1||17||May 27 2003|| |
|Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season 2||24||September 30 2003|| |
|Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season 3||25||March 30 2004|| |
|Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season 4||27||October 26 2004|| |
|Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season 5||26||January 25 2005|| |
|Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season 6||22||July 26 2005|| |
|Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Movies||2||June 27 2006|| |
|Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Complete Series||141||October 28 2008|