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." That's directly from The Other Wiki and dammed if there is a better explanation of the show (the Van Dyke Family roadshow perhaps? Given that at least two of Barry's children turn up in the series and Dick's brother turns up as Mark's brother...)In between saving people's lives, Mark as the chief of internal medicine also finds time to help the woefully inadequate LAPD find the constant murders that have been going around lately. The whole idea is that a patient will come in comatose under the reasoning that a landslide had knocked them out and caused internal bleeding so they died, yet under closer inspection these "rock bruises" look more like the shape you would expect after been repeatedly hit by heavy books. Steve, this man wasn't killed by rocks on a landslide but by books in a library; my diagnosis, murder.It's woefully ridiculous but the fact that the show knows it's a stupid idea and pokes a lot of fun at itself just makes it that much more appealing. Mark doesn't solve the crimes by himself; Steve, Mark's son mentioned above, gives him reason to poke around. Also, depending on the season, he has doctors Amanda Bentley, Jack Stewart and Jesse Travis. The latter opens up a BBQ restaurant with the policeman Steve. So Amanda and Jack/Jesse will then get themselves into random danger with the killer while trying to solve the murder because clearly being highly trained doctors with lives to save isn't enough to keep them occupied and they don't have the brains to ask their police friend, Steve, to look into it for them.It's not commonly known that this was a spinoff ofJake And The Fatman (which in turn was a spinoff of Matlock).
Contains examples of the following tropes:
Absentee Actor: Pushed to extremes in Season 8 when either Jesse, Amanda or both were absent from nearly every episode. There are only 6 episodes of the entire season where all 4 main characters appear, and Jesse isn't even in the series finale.
Acting for Two: More like Acting For Five, since "Inheritance of Death" has Dick Van Dyke playing Mark Sloan, millionaire Jonathan Nash, and his two sons. Andhis daughter.
Actor Allusion: In one episode, Dick Van Dyke as Doctor Sloan is walking through the corridors of the hospital. As he turns a corner, he passes an internal window through which we see, not a medical procedure in progress, but a broadcast booth in black and white. It's a clip of Van Dyke in The Dick Van Dyke Show. He walks on without seeming to notice.
This episode also featured Wil Wheaton, Majel Barrett, Grace Lee Whitney(Yeoman Rand) and Bill Mumy(Lennier on Babylon 5).
Amanda Bentley was once invited to visit the set of The Young and the Restless. Several cast members of the soap appeared as themselves, and commented that Dr. Bentley bore an uncanny resemblance to Victoria Rowell(who played both Dr. Bentley and Drusilla on Y&R).
Steve, discussing 'classic' TV themes, mentioned Airwolf. Barry Van Dyke played St John in Airwolf's third season.
One episode showed two versions of the murder - the killers' plan for the perfect murder and frame-up, and the not-so-perfect way it actually happened. A minor difference between the versions was Dr. Sloan (not) tripping over a dog, similar to the ottoman gag from The Dick Van Dyke Show's opening credits.
Adam Westing: Adam West himself cameos as a washed-up actor who was made famous by playing half of a crime-fighting duo, Tuttle and the Mummy.
Breaking the Fellowship / Putting the Band Back Together: In the two-parter "Obsession", after serial bomber Louis Sweeney, whom Dr. Sloan and his son Steve helped put away, is executed for his crimes, the killer's children pull off a series of copy-cat bombings, causing the police to suspect that they executed the wrong man. At the end of Part 1, facing a public relations nightmare, the board of executives at Community General revoked Dr. Sloan's medical license and fired Amanda Bentley and Jesse Travis, while the LAPD suspended Steve Sloan indefinitely. In Part 2, the four of them reunite after a few weeks to clear their reputations and prove that Louis Sweeney was indeed guilty of the bombings he committed, and that his children were responsible for the copy-cat bombings. By the end of the arc, Dr. Sloan's license is restored and everyone's back on the job. And then Sweeney's daughter blew up the hospital.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Dr. Sloan has raised eccentricity to a high art(he's been known to make his rounds on roller-skates), but his skills as a doctor and as a consultant to the police more than make up for that.
Church of Happyology: Earthonomy, a cult with ridiculous mafia-like connections. They kill a reporter who was investigating them and attempt to kill another reporter. One suspect is even a closeted gay actor obviously based on... a certain actor. It turns out the killer was a hitman hired by the head of Earthonomy, who was having a homosexual affair with the gay actor.
Connect the Deaths: A serial bomber wrote the name of her dead father on the city map. The absurdity of this is Lampshaded by Steve, who draws a pig in the same pattern, though of course Dr. Sloan is right.
Contractual Purity:invoked An episode of Diagnosis: Murder had the murder victim (the Executive Head of a PAX-style Christian TV network) given a fatal heart attack by video clips sliced into a show she's reviewing that had images of a lookalike practicing Satanism (which she did in college), something that would ruin anyone's career, let alone hers.
Criminal Doppelgänger: The two-parter episode "Gangland" centered on a recently paroled mob boss who bore a striking resemblance to Dr. Mark Sloan (both roles played by Dick Van Dyke)
Gangsta Style: Played with in an episode where Mark Sloan is at a gun range being shown how to use a pistol. He fires off a few rounds normally (with realistic loudness and recoil) and then asks the man who was showing him whether he could fire it sideways "like on TV", twisting it to the side to show him what he meant. While the instructor starts saying why it's a bad idea, Mark fires the gun anyway by accident and the recoil flings it out of his hand with great ease and force - which creates a big enough diversion for another character to sneak past.
Homage: DM has done episodes that honor TV doctors of the past ("Physician, Murder Thyself" with Chad Everett, Wayne Rogers, Jack Klugman and Bernie Kopell), TV spies of the past ("Discards" with Robert Culp, Barbara Bain, Robert Vaughn and Patrick MacNee), TV cops of the past ("Murder Blues" with Fred Dryer, Angie Dickinson, Martin Milner, Kent McCord and James Darren), Emergency! ("Malibu Fire" with Emergency regulars Randolph Mantooth and Robert Fuller), Mash ("Drill For Death", with a number of cast members from both the movie and TV versions), Star Trek ("Alienated", with Trek regulars Walter Koenig, George Takei, Grace Lee Whitney and Majel Barrett, plus Wil Wheaton from TNG and Lost in Space's Bill Mumy) and Happy Days / Laverne and Shirley("Food Fight" featuring Pat Morita, Don Most, Erin Moran and David L. "Squiggy" Lander).
Inconvenient Hippocratic Oath: In one episode, Dr. Sloan is at a retirement home disguised as a wheelchair-bound senile person in order to investigate corruption. At one point, another character needs emergency medical treatment, so Sloan has to irrevocably blow his cover in front of all the staff and residents to help.
Jack the Ripoff: The title character of the tie-in novel The Silent Partner is a serial copycat: one copycat each for multiple serial killers.
Karma Houdini: In "Rear Windows '98," Susan doesn't even apologise for falsely accusing Jesse of intentionally poisoning her.
The Killer Was Left-Handed: Almost used in an episode where the killer must be right handed. This lets the left handed man off, until it's revealed that everyone is innocent. Since someone must be guilty, it turns out the lefty is ambidextrous.
Locked in a Room: Happens on a number of occasions. Notably to Jesse and Steve in the season 6 opener and to Jack and Steve in season 2, where Jack reveals he has Claustrophobia and has a panic attack.
Real-Life Relative: Barry Van Dyke is Dick Van Dyke's son. Other members of the Van Dyke family appeared at various times during the show's run, including Dick's brother Jerry and daughter Stacy in one episode each as Dr. Mark's brother and daughter respectively. Barry's four children all appeared in multiple episodes, although not as Sloan family members: Carey as six different characters in as many episodes; Shane as four, the last of whom became a regular supporting role in the show's concluding months; Wes as three; and Taryn in three episodes. All four appeared together in two separate episodes, which therefore share the highest rating of 6.0 on the Van Dyke Scale...
Real Life Writes the Plot: Victoria Rowell's real-life pregnancy in Season Three resulted in Amanda Bentley falling in love and marrying a US soldier who was stationed in Bosnia. Her husband remained The Unseen, and from season four on, depending on the epidode, either they got divorced or he died in a plane crash.
Reality Subtext: The home movie footage of Dr. Sloan and his son is Dick Van Dyke's actual home movie.
Shown Their Work: In "Delusions of Murder" it's correctly pointed out that a person under hypnosis cannot be commanded to do something they normally wouldn't.
Show Within a Show: Type 1, when Amanda wins the chance to be on her favourite show, and when they film a TV show in the hospital.
Suicide by Cop: Subverted: the bad guy has a degenerative disease not covered by insurance (pre-existing condition), and spends the entire episode goading Steve into killing him. It is implied that part of Steve's refusal to do so is because the villain went a bit too far. Good Is Not Nice, perhaps?
Unsettling Gender-Reveal: In one episode, the victim was an MTF post-op TS, and Steve had been flirting with her before she was killed. To the show's credit, the victim was portrayed as a sympathetic character and none of the main characters freaked out about it. In fact, she was killed by her former military buddy because he was squicked, and the murderer is portrayed as a Jerkass.
We Can Rule Together: Oddly invoked and lampshaded in the episode "Blood Ties" (a backdoor pilot for a cop drama involving two female police officers). A team of renegade cops, who have taken to murdering known felons and placing "organ donor" stickers on their drivers licenses so their organs can be harvested for transplants, tries to convince the two protagonist cops to join them. One of the two officers comments that this reminded her of a James Bond scene, where the villain tries to convince Bond to join him in taking over the world. She says, "All Bond had to do was say 'yes', and he could buy enough time for his fellow agents to rescue him and save the day. I never understood why he never said 'yes'...until now. The answer is 'no'."
We Would Have Told You, But...: Steve and his partner are put under involuntary lockdown for threatening suspects. Turns out it's all a ploy to get the partner to admit to murders he'd committed and blanked from his memory a year before.