I Finally Finished ‘ER’
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR 'ER'!!
(Notice that the opening starts with Noah Wyle scooting in a chair, well when Anthony Edwards was on the show, he opened the credits while scooting on a chair. Dr. Greene in many ways handed the reigns to Dr. Carter when he died. He told him to 'set the tone.')
Ever since streaming television was a thing, I had always said if ER was made available, I'd love to re-watch it because it was the first show I remember loving. Then in January, Hulu got all 15 season of ER and I began my binge watching!
So, as of July 2, 2018 I finished all 15 seasons of ER. I watched 15 years of television in roughly 6 months. I feel very accomplished. I had watched ER growing up, but never finished it. The last three seasons or so were totally new to me! Watching ER again as an adult was interesting. I could better understand some of the issues presented on the show. I also found it interesting that I remembered certain things, but not others. It really was a totally different viewing experience.
I had some thoughts after it was all said and done.
Overall, I thought the last episode was done very well. It was almost perfect. Character storylines, old and new, were wrapped up just enough that you had a sense of fulfillment. Like, I knew everybody would be OK. But, why in the last episode is Alexis Bledel there playing Dr. Wise. We had never seen her on the show before. The other interns she was in class with, we had seen before, but not her. Just a little weird.
Also, in the last episode, why didn't we get to see what was up with Dr. Dubenko. Neela leaves the surgery department so we don't care about him anymore or what?
The whole last season seemed like a big 'Thank You' to the fans who had stuck with the show. There were tons of nods to the past to keep the veterans interested, but still some new storylines to keep us on our toes. In the last season we saw guest appearances from everyone! Even dead people! Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards), Dr. Romano(Paul McCrane), Dr. Weaver (Laura Innes), Dr. Ross (George Clooney), Nurse Hathaway (Julianna Marguiles), Dr. Barnett (Shane West), Dr. Boulet, (Gloria Reuben), Dr. Lewis (Sherry Springfield), Dr. Benton (Eriq Lasalle), Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle), Dr. Morgenstern (William H. Macy), and Dr. Corday (Alex Kingston) all made appearances in the last season! Yes, even George Clooney came back for an episode. I mean, he should. Without ER he would be nothing. Well, maybe not nothing, but still.
The show gave birth to a lot of notable people's careers, not just George Clooney. Lots of familiar faces came through County General including Kirsten Dunst, Mariska Hargitay, Julie Bowen, Lucy Liu, Rosemary Clooney, Kristin Davis, Bradley Whitford, Taraji P. Henson, Adam Scott. Seriously, the list could go on forever. So I'll leave it at that. You get the picture.
There were some notable continuity problems though. For example, Dr. Benton's niece and nephew were played by different actors every time we saw them. Sometimes the nephew was older, other times the niece was older. Also, Dr. Benton's baby mama's husband, Roger, was played by two different actors. And Dr. Greene's daughter, Rachel, was played by two different girls as well.
Also, a couple things that bothered me. Dr. Susan Lewis didn't get a proper going away episode. And secondly, this is more my problem, but I was not emotionally prepared for Dr. Pratt's death. I mean with Dr. Greene, we knew it was coming, he had cancer, but Pratt was fine one second and then he was dead! I was a mess.
The cast of ER did change quite a bit over the years, but you know who was there from the start to the end? The nurses! Chuny, Lydia, Lilly, Malik, and Haleh were nurses on the show the whole time! That's impressive! Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe in ER's first episode, it starts with Lydia waking up Dr. Greene from an on-call room and in the last episode it starts with Lydia waking up Dr. Morris from an on-call room. I love the parallelism.
Speaking of Dr. Greene, he is seriously one of the best TV characters of all time. He was the guy we could root for and he always tried to do the right thing. However, he was flawed. Remember that episode where he is in the elevator with the murderer guy and the guy starts to code and he hits the buttons on the paddles, but didn't put the paddles on the guys chest?!?! He just let him die! Whoa! Dr. Greene's death from a brain tumor is one of those TV moments that I don't think I'll ever forget. And seeing it the second time was not any easier.
Dr. Carter is right up there as far as favorites on the show go! His relationship with his mentor, Dr. Benton, was so beautiful. They went through a lot together. I mean Carter got stabbed, got addicted to painkillers, went to rehab, went to Africa, lost a baby, got a kidney transplant, and opened a clinic in Chicago with all of his family's money while on the show. And Dr. Benton was there for all of it.
I will say, there was a brief moment somewhere in season 12 or 13 where I didn't think I really cared about a lot of the new cast as much as I should and some of the storylines got a bit crazy, but when the show stuck to what it was known for in the beginning, it was good. Sometimes, it was hard to like some of the new cast as much as the originals. But, Dr. Lockhart (Maura Tierney), Dr. Kovac (Goran Visnjic), Dr. Pratt (Mekhi Phifer), Dr. Morris (Scott Grimes), Dr. Gates (John Stamos), Dr. Risgotra (Parminder Nagra), Dr. Barnett (Shane West), and nurse Sam Taggart (Linda Cardellini) did keep me engaged. Honestly, I really hope that in real life Mekhi Phifer and Scott Grimes hang out on weekends. And I'm so glad Neela ended up with Ray. I mean it took them long enough. And I was so happy that Abby and Luka could work out their differences.
One thing that really stood out to me was that this show started back in 1994 and not much has seemed to change. ER had episodes dealing with racism, sexism, gun violence, health care issues, AIDS, gay rights, abortion, mental health, and assault. These are all issues we still have today. Still battles we are fighting today.
I had a thought, reboots and remakes are all the rage right now so why not an ER reboot with all the original cast's offspring. I mean Mark Greene's daughter, Rachel, Benton's son, Reese, Carol and Doug's twins, Mark and Elizabeth's daughter, Ellie. So many possibilities!
Anyway, I've gone on long enough. I know I sound crazy talking about these TV characters as if I know them, but 15 years is a long time to spend with these characters.
So, if you have any suggestions about what I should watch next, let me know. And if you are currently watching ER and you need someone to talk to, I am here for you.
Also, I'd like to thank Hulu for giving me this experience. ER Forever!