The Wonderful Portal of Dr. Oz | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Wonderful Portal of Dr. Oz

A series where we review Pa. political ads as if they were movies

Say what you will about Dr. Oz, but the man understands the importance of economical filmmaking. Coming in exactly at the minute mark, the Pa. senate candidate's inaugural political ad (or, as we like to call it, his documentary short) goes straight to the point; to paraphrase Dorothy Parker, it runs the gamut of Dr. Oz’s fascinating life — all the way from point A to point B!

The ad is shot on a set that suggests the set of his TV show. (I cannot confirm this suspicion, but if you are part of the crew on Dr. Oz’s show and were forced to stay after regular shooting hours to work on this, shoot me an email!) Regardless, it bears a striking resemblance to the most wipe-clean Courtyard Marriott lobby you can imagine: white walls, frosted glass, an untouched semi-modern armchair, a large fake plant casting shadows on the wall. What sets Dr. Oz’s shooting location apart from your average hotel lobby is that it includes a demonic portal into the netherworld that is Dr. Oz’s past. A doorway framed in warm-toned wood appears to have a green screen installed behind it, and it is there that these visions of Mehmet’s past life arise from the ether.

Dr. Oz himself stands next to this portal, attired in a tailored suit complete with an incongruous red pocket square. With his hands steepled in a way that indicates he is a serious contender, he narrates his career. The portal shows us a black-and-white photo of his attractive immigrant parents, a picture of a hunky square-jawed young Oz, and his healthy and happy looking family.

This all changes when he delves into the most important part of his life: his TV show! A sudden lens flare (clearly added in post, it looks incredibly goofy) overwhelms the screen, and the portal expands to encompass the whole image to emphasize the brief montage of clips from his show. We see Dr. Oz doing push-ups and hugging a Black woman. He is a man of the people, and don’t you forget it!

From there, the camera moves away from the mysterious portal and moves closer to Oz as he gives his pitch. To emphasize his points, a text bar at the bottom of the screen repeats his best talking points: WASHINGTON GOT IT WRONG, THEY TOOK AWAY OUR FREEDOM, CONSERVATIVE, AMERICA FIRST, blah blah blah blah.

But it’s at this point that Dr. Oz says one of the craziest fuckin’ promises I’ve ever heard in a campaign ad, which is that he will “reignite our divine spark.” This does not get parroted on screen, but has lingered in my mind for days since I first viewed this ad. Reignite our divine spark … reignite our divine spark … our divine … spark? It’s a stunner of a phrase, and one that I believe makes this not only an extraordinary piece of filmmaking, but places what we’ve seen in an entirely new context. I can only conclude that Dr. Oz is running not just to represent Pennsylvania in the United States Senate, but to become the next Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Maybe his portal is not just a green screen, but a real manifestation of his extrasensory powers! And his career as a doctor is not that of any normal doctor — he is a good old-fashioned alchemist, whose prescriptions will be just the thing to restore America’s “divine spark.”

Anyways: if you’ll excuse me, I have to go down a gallon of colloidal silver — my divine spark has been weakened by too many repeat viewings.