by pat howard

ER | Preparing a DNR for my first medical drama

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I was in fifth grade when I first started watching ER. It hardly seems this way fifteen years later, but a lot about it was game-changing. Television was a lot different when this premiered in 1994. Now innovation and creative storytelling have become the norm and ER seems commonplace, a relic of the past after a decade and a half at County General.

I admit I bailed on the show shortly after Anthony Edwards’ Dr. Greene died depressingly on that beach, but once in awhile during college I’d catch a classic episode on TNT in the morning and remember why and how much I once loved this show. With the exception of Maura Tierney, I was never intrigued by any members of the new class.

Because many original cast members were set to return for this long-ass swan song, I put ER on series record and plodded through the first few Angela Basset episodes last fall. Man, is she unlikable in this show. I caught Abby’s goodbye episode before I let the DVR create a backlog several months long. This weekend, I started plowing through the last eight or so episodes, looking for familiar faces or, failing that, compelling plot threads.

Mostly what I found was that the ER’s support staff is exactly the same, just fifteen years older. And also that ER and Grey’s Anatomy are plagued with such egregious plot overlap that a South Park-style “Simpsons Already Did It” episode would seem to be in order. Meanwhile, William H. Macy’s drive-by guest shot was soggy with sentimentality and the directing in Noah Wyle’s kidney dialysis storyline could be politely called overbearing.

I’m still two weeks behind going into Thursday’s penultimate episode, and while I realize that Hathaway, Benton, and Ross loom in my near future, I have stopped wondering why ER‘s three-hour finale blowout is being kept out of a sweeps period. (In fact, the series’ final night actually misses the March book by a single day.) This is not the show it used to be; neither is its presumptive successor to the medical drama throne, Grey’s. Come April 2, at least someone at County will have the decency to pull the plug and put us out of our misery.

Rest in peace, ER. I will remember you for your good years.

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