The springs of Springfield: Dr. Nick Riviera

Dr. Nick Riviera

Also known as Springfield’s “other doctor,” Dr. Nick Riviera seems to represent everything that Hibbert does not. He will take on nearly any medical procedure, even ones that Hibbert rejects. In “King Size Homer,” after Hibbert calls Homer’s ambition for obesity “monstrous” and that he’ll “have no part of it,” Dr. Nick Riviera saves the day with his quackery. He says “there are many options available for dangerously underweighted individuals like yourself. I recommend a slow, steady gorging process combined with assal horizontology. You’ll want to focus on the neglected food groups such as the whipped group, the congealed group and the chocotastic!”

He even has a trademark to parallel Hibbert’s chuckling. He always walks into a room with “Hi, everybody!” and everyone else is trained to respond with “Hi, Dr. Nick!” It seems that Dr. Nick is negatively defined by Dr. Hibbert; we identify his character as being not Dr. Hibbert. Nick is a cheap quack who graduated from Hollywood Upstairs Medical College.

However, a 1998 article by Robert Patterson, MD and Charles Weijer, MD, PhD, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal explores the question of which doctor in Springfield that Canadian physicians should emulate.

The two doctors argue that Riviera is the true medical role model in Springfield, albeit sarcastically. Sure, his knowledge of anatomy is weak, but his saving grace, according to Patterson and Weijer, is that “he is resource-conscious and gives the customer what she[/he] wants.” Whereas Hibbert is heavy on informational pamphlets, videos and lollipops, Riviera is a penny-pincher. They also cite his “any surgical procedure for $129.95” policy as a remedy for escalating health care costs. Also, for Riviera, the customer is always right. He never hesitates to meet the needs of the patient. Thus, Homer is dangerously underweight and the smudge on Bart’s x-ray is really trauma.

No, Dr. Nick is not the trusted family doctor (“The coroner — I’m so sick of that guy”). But he provides less than stellar health care for rock bottom prices (“Come in for brain surgery and receive a free Chinese finger trap”). This begs the question — is no health care better than bad health care? Whatever your stance may be, Dr. Nick saved Homer’s life in “Homer’s Triple Bypass” while Hibbert hangs him out to dry without his $40,000.

So the next time you have a medical emergency and a tight wallet, “Call 1-600-DOCTORB. The B is for Bargain!”