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Thursday, April 2, 2009

One Bloody Last Trip to the ER


I didn't watch the first two episodes of NBC's ER back in 1994. Instead I tuned in to another new hospital drama, CBS's Chicago Hope, which also aired on Thursdays at 9 pm (CST). It starred such familiar faces as Mandy Patinkin and Adam Arkin, while ER only had that guy from Roseanne and Sisters, George Clooney. I thought for sure that Chicago Hope would be the better show of the two, but I was wrong. I soon switched over to ER, while CBS quickly switched its medical series to another time slot. Now don't get me wrong, I liked Chicago Hope, and I continued to watch it, but there was just something new and exciting about the way ER told a story. And then, of course, there were the characters and the talented actors who portrayed them: Clooney's Doug Ross, Anthony Edwards' Mark Greene, Sherry Stringfield's Susan Lewis, Eriq LaSalle's Peter Benton, Julianna Margulies' Carol Hathaway, and Noah Wyle's John Carter. They were all wonderful, and I never missed another episode for many years. But as is the case with most long-running shows, I think ER outstayed its welcome by a few seasons. I stopped watching after Noah Wyle left at the end of Season 11, but tonight I tuned in for the 331st and final episode of the series for old time's sake. The following are my random thoughts while I tuned in to the three-hour farewell (including a one-hour pre-show special):

7:00 pm: Such maudlin music, but ER has been playing it forever. I do like the faces of the different characters showing up in the empty ER--but this opening scene goes on far too long.

7:05 pm: I like seeing all the old familiar faces of the original cast. Noah Wyle looks so young.

7:06 pm: Sherry Stringfield is interviewed, and she looks fabulous!

7:07 pm: George Clooney was one hot, young doctor in the pilot episode.

7:08 pm: I love Maura Tierney, who played Abby Lockhart, but she was better as Lisa on Newsradio. And I'm still bitter that the writers broke up Abby and Carter, who I thought made a terrific couple.

7:10 pm: John Stamos still looks very good. How old is he? (he's 45 according to Wikipedia).

7:11 pm: Paul McCrane's Dr. Robert Romano was one of my favorite characters. I wasn't too happy when they killed him off.

7:12 pm: Why there's Maria Bello, who played Dr. Anna Del Amico during Season 4. Does anyone else even remember that she was on the show?

7:15 pm: Okay, we get the drift here. It wasn't an easy show to act on with all the medical terms and swift action, but I'd really like longer clips to watch.

7:16 pm: Bad haircut, Noah.

7:18 pm: Doug Ross had the best bedside manner of all the doctors.

7:20 pm: It's very disappointing that they're barely showing us any clips from the show.

7:24 pm: "Heroes" seems to be the favorite word of this special.

7:25 pm: Look, there's Glenne Headly as Dr. Abby Keaton, who briefly appeared on the show (I liked her character). And there's Bradley Whitford from The West Wing!

7:30 pm: Doug and Carol were the best couple on the show.

7:32 pm: Is Taylor Kitsch from Friday Night Lights in the new Wolverine movie? (Yes, he is)

7:33 pm: ABC's new police show, The Unusuals, looks far better than NBC's Southland, which makes me yawn.

7:36 pm: Goodbye, Dr. Romano, it was nice knowing you.

7:37 pm: When was Ewan McGregor on ER? (I forgot that he played a convenience store gunman in a 1997 episode)

7:38 pm: We love you, Sally Field, we really really do.

7:43 pm: We love you, Amy Poehler, I can't wait for your new show.

7:44 pm: I remember when Carter and Lucy Knight (Kellie Martin) were stabbed by a deranged patient. Poor Lucy died, but it was a good episode.

7:46 pm: I didn't care much for Carter's trips to Africa. I wanted a show about life in an ER to stay in the ER--or at least in the same city.

7:48 pm: I always liked Khandi Alexander as Peter Benton's sister, Jackie (she was great as Catherine on Newsradio).

7:49 pm: Mark Greene and Elizabeth Corday made a nice couple, but I liked her romance with Peter better.

7:52 pm: It's about time they mentioned the late Michael Crichton, who created the show.

7:59 pm: ER is Noah Wyle's and John Carter's show more than anyone else's.

8:00 pm: "And In The End . . ." Nice title. Love seeing the Chicago "L" train.

8:02 pm: I didn't know that actress who played Tommy's trampy lover on Brothers & Sisters was on ER now. And there's Ellen Crawford, who has played Nurse Lydia forever.

8:03 pm: Jerry the front-desk clerk looks like hell with that beard.

8:04 pm: Ooo, who is this yummy guy? (It's Dr. Simon Brenner played by David Lyons)

8:08 pm: The new film, State of Play, has an interesting cast--Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams--but I don't find Russell Crowe very attractive with long hair.

8:09 pm: Dr. Simon has a dreamy accent. And there's Yvette Freeman, who has played Nurse Haleh forever.

8:12 pm: It's hard to believe that former Freaks and Geeks actress, Linda Cardellini (who plays Nurse Samantha), is now old enough to have a 16-year-old son on television (she's only 33).

8:14 pm: It's Rory Gilmore! She's become a doctor instead of a reporter.

8:17 pm: So Julia Louis-Dreyfus is hawking Healthy Choice meals these days. For some reason this makes me very sad.

8:21 pm: I find it an odd career move for Gilmore Girls' Alexis Bledel to be appearing in ER's last episode. Shouldn't she be busy making another Traveling Pants movie?

8:23 pm: So nice to see Carter, Susan and Kerry together again, and he's used his inheritance to build The Carter Center.

8:27 pm: I wish I was watching Gilmore Girls instead of this show.

8:30 pm: John Stamos is obviously the new Doug Ross as he comforts patients with his groovy bedside manner.

8:37 pm: I love that they brought back Mark Greene's daughter, Rachel--and she's played by the same actress as before. A nice touch.

8:38 pm: Carter says Susan looks fantastic. What about Kerry?

8:39 pm: All the colorful umbrellas and the pregnant lady remind me of the film, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Is Catherine Deneuve going to show up?

8:41 pm: Rachel Greene is applying for medical school.

8:43 pm: It ain't an ER party without a really gross and bloody scene (the pregnant lady has an inverted uterus).

8:47 pm: God, I am so sick and tired of these endless Southland previews.

8:52 pm: Rachel is 22 (I suddenly feel very old).

9:04 pm: I wish Rory Gilmore was my doctor.

9:06 pm: Is that Ernest Borgnine? (I later learn that the actor is 92)

9:07 pm: It's nice that they got the same young actor to play Peter's deaf son, Reese.

9:08 pm: Thandie Newton shows up as Carter's wife and brings the happy mood of reunited old friends to an abrupt end.

9:11 pm: The pregnant lady dies. A predictable twist.

9:13 pm: Why doesn't the gorgeous Dr. Simon ask Rory out for a cup of coffee? She obviously needs someone to talk to. The man's an idiot.

9:15 pm: There's Cass from the old soap opera, Another World, in a commercial.

9:17 pm: I'm looking forward to seeing B.J. Novak as Ryan on next week's The Office. He's got blond hair and works in a bowling alley now.

9:18 pm: Oh, look it's Marilu Henner (she's funny in her brief appearance).

9:20 pm: Carter needs a new woman in his life. Someone more fun and exciting.

9:22 pm: That old guy looks like actor Peter Haskell, who was on Rich Man, Poor Man Book II and the daytime soaps, Ryan's Hope and Rituals.

9:31 pm: Ghosts of Girlfriends Past? No thanks, I haven't seen a Matthew McConaughey movie since 1999's Edtv.

9:35 pm: Very nice scene between Peter and Elizabeth. There still seems to be a bit of a spark between these two characters.

9:40 pm: Angela Bassett's Dr. Cate Banfield is obviously the new Kerry Weaver. I don't care much for her bitching about Carter.

9:44 pm: Not another Southland preview! AUGHHHHHHHHH!

9:48 pm: "As one great show ends, another takes it place". I don't think so. To compare Southland to ER is just plain ridiculous. And I feel like I've already seen the entire first episode of Southland from all the previews.

9:49 pm: Nice scene between Noah Wyle and John Stamos playing basketball together.

9:52 pm: Odd scene shot from the point of view of the girl who suffered alcohol poisoning.

9:54 pm: An industrial explosion brings everyone out of the ER to wait for the injured to arrive.

9:57 pm: A sweet ending as Carter asks "Dr. Greene" to come help them in the ER. The "L" train is seen once again. And after 15 seasons, we've reached The End.

ER's series finale will not go down in history as one of the best. It was okay but nothing spectacular--but I'm still glad I watched it.

1 comment:

harvey said...

The carter and new woman comment were funny.

But seriously, WHY DID Thandie Newton sign on for this role?

It's been poorly written and it ended that way!

What WE deserve are better writers.

The show went from serious drama to 2nd rate nighttime soap opera garbage.