For a while, family-friendly Pax TV aired mainly home-shopping programming and recycled content like Touched by an Angel re-runs. Pax still depends on such fare, but it has grown to the point of offering original series, including Doc, the network's biggest hit, now in its fifth season.
Doc, created by the Christian writers Dave and Gary Johnson, is about a doctor from Montana who goes to New York City to practice medicine. Country music star Billy Ray Cyrus plays the drawling, folksy doctor who drives a pickup truck and dispenses wisdom to his big-city patients and colleagues.
Ironically, it takes good acting to seem natural on television, with ordinary folks or celebrities from non-acting fields often coming across as stiff and fake. But Mr. Cyrus does a fine job as the cowboy doctor, making him likable and easy to relate to.
Doc is a slice-of-life drama, focusing on ordinary problems and relationships. Plots can be tear-jerky (a character's fiancé turns out to have terminal cancer and is looking for a wife to care for his little girl after he dies). But, though things tend to work out at the end, the stories are not heavy-handed in their moralism or overly idealized. Characters make mistakes, and the stories sometimes take on complicated problems in a realistic way.
The show has no explicit sex or violence, but it does have explicit Christianity. When a policeman confides to the doctor that he is tempted by a new partner, a pretty young woman with a crush on him, he is told that this is "why we need divine help." When another character gets into a big mess, the doctor says that "we need to pray for her." Interpersonal problems are solved by mutual forgiveness.
Some Christian viewers-especially men and boys-might want more hard-hitting action and less emotional "relationship" talk, but Doc deserves its audience.