Travis Stork, one of the four doctors who star in the syndicated weekday series The Doctors, is familiar with Fort Worth. His sister and her family live in the city, and his parents live in Granbury, so he has visited fairly frequently.
But he got an education in October, when The Doctors spent a week filming in Dallas-Fort Worth, in locations as far-flung as the Fort Worth Stockyards and Southfork Ranch, north of Dallas.
"What's remarkable about the Dallas-Fort Worth area is how big it is," says Stork, whose name might ring a bell because he was on Season 9 of The Bachelor. "I'm used to landing at the airport and figuring out what route I'm going to take into Fort Worth. [But] by the time we spent the week there and got up to Southfork Ranch, I began to realize how little I actually knew about how big the area actually is."
The Dallas-Fort Worth segments begin airing this week, with an episode at 2 p.m. Thursday on KTVT/Channel 11 (more North Texas footage will air next year), and it provides some idea of the sprawl, although as TV tends to, it plays up stereotypes. A rough cut sent for preview began with the doctors -- emergency physician Stork, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, pediatrician Jim Sears and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon -- entering on horseback at Southfork, and then shopping for cowboy boots at Ponder Boot Co. in Fort Worth.
But there's more to it than the stereotypes -- the four doctors use these activities to address health issues, such as the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding, or how to buy footwear that doesn't put unnecessary strain on your feet, legs or back.
During a Stockyards-shot segment in which the doctors learn to two-step, an instructor mentions that she's a vegetarian, and asks about health issues involved with that lifestyle. And would it be a DFW-shot episode without cameos from Mark Cuban and Tim Love?
"What we like to do on The Doctors is we like to teach you without you knowing it," Stork says. "If you're watching a show that takes place in the studio, I might be at our 'magic wall' explaining an animation of what happens during a heart attack. But I think what you'll see in Dallas-Fort Worth is us with two left feet, trying to do the Texas two-step -- and along with that, we'll share some of the health benefits unique to finding an activity you love."
Going on location
The series is usually shot on a Hollywood sound stage, with many of the trappings of talk TV -- segments on different topics, with questions from the audience and viewers, and banter among the hosts. But Ordon, the plastic surgeon, says that the DFW episodes are part of an occasional series in which the doctors get out to other cities (they've already done New York and Chicago).
"It's a theme that we've done before, and we really enjoy doing it, because we focus in on a certain area and try to relate health issues to the activities in the area," Ordon said. "So we did some horseback riding and the two-step Western dancing. Those are great examples of exercising and having fun and socializing and the health benefits of all that."
Ordon says he really enjoyed the Southfork segment, where he got to ride a rodeo-trained horse, and the doctors met with Dallas star Linda Gray to talk about how she stays so youthful. Other segments include a visit to Cowboys Stadium, as well as the Cowboys' practice facility, where several players talk about their health regimens (they include yoga and ice baths); and a segment with Miss Texas DaNae Couch, who talks about the health benefits of baton twirling.
Although it's not in Thursday's episode, the doctors also made an appearance at Frisco's Stonebriar Center Mall, where they took audience questions. There is still much footage of passers-by, especially in the Stockyards, asking questions of the doctors (Stork says that in North Texas, it was common to hear questions about allergies). Which leads you to wonder if they ever get thrown a question they can't handle.
"Between having been practicing for 30-some-odd years and having been on the show for six seasons, you'd think I'd heard it all," Ordon says. "But we always do get something new. One, I guess, that stood out was from somebody who had already lost 100 pounds, wanted to lose more but sort of hit the wall. ... And that's something relatable to people out there who were really obese and are trying to lose the weight naturally, without going through bypass surgery or lap-banding."
Although the restrictions of broadcast TV mean that the doctors have to be delicate when discussing some topics, they say they'll talk about anything. One of the show's goals, Stork says, is to get people to talk to their own doctors candidly, no matter how embarrassing the subject.
"I always tell people who haven't seen our show, 'You tune in to our show, and you're going to get a glimpse of what doctors talk about when you're not around,'" Stork says. "We don't self-edit. We have genuine conversations that you would hear in the hallway of a hospital. It just so happens that we do it on a soundstage."
Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872