So Gang what did you think? Do you think they conveyed the message well ? It wasn't exactly what I expected but then I'm not sure what I was expecting.I think for those watching it gave a bit of in sight into the disease and Mr. Woods did a good job of portraying the part. I wear a hearing aid and had a bit of trouble understanding him when he was talking but then I have had trouble with understanding friends with bulbar involvement. All in all I think it did the job ALSA hoped for. Do we need to do a poll?
I think James Woods did a great job in portraying this character. But I also felt certain scenes could have been cut back giving more time for the show to inform the audience about what ALS was. When he was saying it and it came up on his computerized screen, you had to read quickly before the camera panned off. There was too much time discussing his wishes about the trake, and too much time showing it beeing put in. The flash back scenes, were they going from current state then back, or all mixed up, I couldn't tell? I simply felt there was something missing after the show was over, as if the hammer missed the nail.
But as Al said, it was exposure, and lets hope it worked.
I personally do not believe it did what I thought it would do. My comment to my husband was they should have made this a two hour special instead of one hour. I know one hour is not enough time for something like this. They had to put as much as they could in a short time. It did not reach my heart the way I thought it might. What I mean by this is, showing what it is really like in a home enviroment like one to one with family, the daily struggles from the beginning. Yes it showed him struggling but it kinda left it up in the air there was no emotional connection for me even though my husband has the illness. My words to him were this did not make me break down the way I thought it would. It scared me terribly I can say that but there was not enough deep emotion. I know that this would probably be hard to do in the time frame. I truly feel a movie should be made and show the life we live in a more personal way. I believe this would let others see the daily struggles behind the disabilities, I guess what I am really trying to say is feel the pain of what the emotional turmoil the patient and loved ones go through minute by minute. I cried alot for fear of what the future holds, it angered me also in some ways that we have not come very far and that more awareness really needs to be.
Like Al said, it wasn't what I expected, but I don't know what I was expecting.
I also felt that something was missing. Maybe they needed to show the progression of the disease more, I really don't know.
Many, many, thanks to James Woods, the cast of ER and NBC for making the effort to inform people about ALS.
All things considered, I thought the show was very good.
Remember the goal of the producers of this show was not to educate people about ALS or to raise awareness about ALS. The goal was to pick an emotional topic to attract viewers and increase ratings so as to be able to charge advertisers big bucks.
There didn't appear to be any gross mischaracterizations of what it is like to have ALS - which is often the case with other characterizations translated to the screen.
I thought the message was quite hopeful - for me anyway. Do what you can to adapt to what ever ALS throws at you - and keep on truckin'
To add to the comments here, I had a coworker who watches ER see the show. Her husband, who doesn't normally view it, sat and watched it with her. He was shocked and disturbed, knew nothing about the disease, but he does now. I had my 14 year old watch it also, she asked a ton of questions, and too ended up learning more about it. Now she understands when Mom says..I need the computer to get some work done...she can relate.
I watched some of the episode last night. I couldn't bear to watch all of it. It's too soon after my fiance's mother passed away. I will keep an eye out for it in reruns in the summer and I'll check it out again.
From what I did see, I think it was a pretty accurate depiction of ALS progression, although it seemed quite slow. (He was diagnosed in 1999, and it's now 2006). It was interesting to see the computer and I wonder if my fiance's mom could have used one.
As a side note, I noticed that some people were commenting on it being difficult to understand what the computer was saying, or it was speaking too fast, I have a severe profound hearing loss and wear a hearing aid. Closed captioning is the best invention when it comes to television, even my (hearing) fiance finds it helpful. Most of my family also leaves the captioning on because it is easier to follow along. It takes a little getting used to reading and watching the show at the same time, but it doesn't take long til you're reading so fast that you know what the characters are going to say, before they say it! Smile.
I agree that a mini movie (two hour television movie or whatever) would be a great way to provide exposure of ALS to the mainstream public. Has this been done in the past with a bio of Lou Gehrig perhaps? I'm going to check that out, later today.
I too thought it should have been a 2 hour episode. If nothing else, it showed people what it means for a person to have ALS. I too thought I would've needed a kleenex box, but I didn't. My heart does break, however, to know my husband will be at that end stage one day. It showed what a heinous disease it is. Hopefully more compassion will come from the episode. Thank you to James Woods and ER for doing the episode.
I agree that the show probably was more about ratings than really trying to educate. It seems like a good thing to present the illness and give some basic knowledge to people though. Maybe now some people will at least know the name and have a mental picture of what it might entail. Also, the show is about an ER room so they would be more concentrated on the drama of it.
I was impressed I thought it showed what it's like communicating. I felt the camera was looking through my eyes at times as people talk about you as if you can't hear and understand them. I hope James gets an award because I thought that was his best performance rivaling Jack Lemon performance as a pals in the movie (Tuesdays with Morrie)
Just to add more about the subject. The episode of HOUSE the previous week had a patient supposedly with ALS and the team was trying to find out what it was. He came in in a wheelchair and walked out with a cane. Apparently another misdiagnosis. Interesting show just the same. I'm not sure if it was last week's episode because we found it on a tape we had sitting around for a bit. Just happened to watch it this morning not knowing what the episode was.
For anyone interested there is a National Film Board documentary of the Bearing Witness Series with an episode of the 3 year progression of ALS in a man from BC called Robert Collie Donahue. I think we paid about $20 Cdn. for it and it can be ordered online through the NFB website. It is an emotional film and talks with his children, friends and caregivers during his 3 year decline before he had to go into a nursing home. You will need Kleenex handy. It is a very moving film and a realistic show of his progression.
Well, here is my 2 cents worth. If you want to do a story about someone with ALS, have someone with ALS portray it. James Woods did an okay job. I wonder though where and how they did their research. The idea was however to get awareness out there. I hope that it does. I have been through all of the stages of als, and felt that they could have dealt more with certain issures. But, I was not the producer or the director. I think that we have to remember, this was acting, and not real life, unfortunatley it may or may not send out mixed messages. I still maintain that if you want to do a show about such a high adversity diesease as als, have someone with als portray the message, because there would definately not be any acting involved!
I thought the same thing... why not have someone living with ALS be on the show, but it would have been extremely difficult to do those flashback episodes and maintain the integrity of how quickly this disease manifests. If they had used other actors to portray Nate even 6 years ago, it wouldn't have the same impact as if you saw the exact same person "6 years ago" and now he looks the same, but can't do lots of things.
I read that James Woods did extensive research and met with multiple individuals from all stages of ALS to gain insight into their lives. I think he did as good a job as anyone else could have done.