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Series set in hospitals are mostly about saving or extending lives. Some of the best moments of such legendary shows as “St. Elsewhere” and “ER” were about miracles happening on the operating table.

Homecoming, a new series filmed in Spokane, is changing direction.

Cynthia Geary, who played Shelly on Northern Exposure, plays Charlie Copeland, a sensitive nurse.

“My work on the show is very, very different from being an ER nurse,” Geary explained, calling from her home in Issaquah. “I’m coming from a different direction, thanks to Dan.”

Geary is referring to creator, writer and director Dan Merchant, who created a poignant, touching show full of great moments throughout its six-episode first season, which kicked off earlier this month. The merchant took the risk of creating a show on a topic that most prefer to avoid.

“It’s true that our culture doesn’t speak well about death,” Merchant said, looking out over Spokane Falls from his downtown writing studio. “It’s sad because death is part of life and we have to deal with it ourselves and with our loved ones. This show is different. We bring all of our personal experiences with our parents and grandparents from the writer’s room.”

Growing up in Seattle, Merchant, 57, drew on recent personal experience. “During the pandemic, my father was nearing the end of his cancer journey,” Merchant said. “While this was going on, an idea popped into my head. I thought, “Wow, how about a show dedicated to this? It’s an interesting setting. I remembered all the different experiences I had with hospice providers.”

However, Merchant had to dig deeper to create a hospice care show, so he contacted the nurses at Spokane Hospice.

“I learned a lot from the hospice nurses,” Merchant said. “I learned what they say and why they are always present. I heard a story from a hospice nurse about how an ER nurse quit after two days at Spokane Hospice because her life was dedicated to trying to save lives.

“Death equals total failure. The emergency nurse is used to running on full adrenaline. She couldn’t accept the fact that people were dying,” he continued. “Hospice nurses are a special group of people. Their view is that death is not the opposite of life. Death is part of life. It’s all about how we are on this journey in this life that eventually ends.”

Geary is great as a compassionate nurse in Coming Home, which is streaming on Pure Flix Entertainment.

“Cynthia is the heart and soul of the show,” Merchant said. “She was a leader on set, a very talented and sweet person and a workhorse.”

Going Home has a number of other great performances. Veteran actor Tom Skerritt, of Frequency and The Dead Zone fame, is doing it at an age when most people are well past retirement age. But Skerrit, who turns 89 in August, is stunning as he witnesses the final stages of his wife’s life.

“It was great to work with Tom as he is a proven and serious actor,” said Merchant. “Even if he just needs to cross the room to pass the hand lotion, he has to find motivation.

“Sometimes he can offer something else. Something special comes out of what he does. He made the character real. When he cried when his wife slipped away, it was just incredibly real. It was the only time I didn’t scream.

On the other side of Skerritt, who made his television debut 60 years ago on the television series Fight!, is former NFL star Vernon Davis, who plays a hospice patient. The two-time All Pro and Super Bowl winner is impressive just three years after he retired from the draw.

“Vernon is great, especially for a guy who is relatively new to acting,” Merchant said. “I knew him as the 49ers tight end who ruined the Seahawks over and over again. We talked about football. He was serious and very easy to manage.

“His name came up when we needed a guy with an athletic look. I saw[former Seattle Seahawk star]Richard Sherman in a TV commercial and I thought maybe it would work. The agent who handles Sherman said, “You don’t need Sherm, you need Vernon.” ”

Merchant is also impressed with Spokane, who is in the background during the show’s opening cutscene, where Geary is jogging through Riverfront Park in his University of Washington attire.

“Spokane is like another character on this show,” Merchant said. “It’s cool to see Charlie, calm down, running past the red van. This opening scene is our love letter to Spokane… We’re honoring the 509 with this show, not the 206. I know how life is here. It has always been this state battle. Technology against farmers.

Merchant moved to Spokane when he began working on Z Nation as a writer and director in 2014.

“It’s a little tidied up,” Merchant said. “When we filmed Z Nation, there were entire blocks of abandoned hotels in the entertainment district.

“We had zombie shoots in the street with no scenery. But there has been so much urban renewal. Spokane looks a lot better, and you can see it in the intro to Homecoming.

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