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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Docs and stuff

I was watching ER the other night and ruminating on how dull the show has become (although I'll take the current dullness over the unrelenting depression of last season), and something that bothered me about the way a storyline was resolved a few years ago on the show occurred to me, so I figured I'd comment on it here. It was the custody trial that Dr. Benton endured before he exited the show entirely (when actor Eriq LaSalle departed).

The set-up was this: way back in the second season, Dr. Peter Benton "hooked up" (wink wink) with a woman from his neighborhood named Carla. They enjoyed a whirlwind "romance" and then broke up with some bad feelings, if memory serves; later on, Carla revealed that she was pregnant with Dr. Benton's child. The kid was eventually born and named Reese, and shortly thereafter Carla married some businessman named Roger.

A few years later, Carla was killed in a car crash, but Reese survived. A custody fight ensued almost immediately between Dr. Benton (Reese's biological father) and Roger (Reese's adoptive step-father). I guess it seemed fairly cut-and-dried, until in the course of the trial a paternity test was done and it turned out that Dr. Benton was not Reese's biological father after all. Nevertheless, the judge ruled in Dr. Benton's favor, awarding him custody and giving Roger something like supervised weekly visits. This was meant to be a big "heart-warming moment" for the soon-to-depart Dr. Benton.

But I hated that moment, because it didn't seem to me that a guy who thought for all those years that he was the biological father, but really wasn't, should have a greater legal claim to the kid than the man who, although also not the kid's biological father, was married to the mother since the kid's earliest youth. I am, admittedly, no kind of legal expert on matters like this, but the storyline's resolution was so morally false that I couldn't take it seriously at all; and I likewise couldn't stomach a subsequent scene when Dr. Benton, having vanquished Roger, gets all magnanimous and deigns to allow Roger to stop by the house with Reese's Christmas presents.

Well, I think this post pretty much puts to rest any question as to whether I had anything to say, eh?

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