"e.r.: THE COMPLETE ELEVENTH SEASON" DVD Review by Kevin Carr
MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Noah Wyle as JOHN CARTER
Maura Tierney as ABBY LOCKHART
Mekhi Phifer as GREGORY PRATT
Alex Kingston as ELIZABETH CORDAY
Goran Visnjic as LUKA KOVAC
Sherry Stringfield as SUSAN LEWIS
Ming-Na as JING-MEI CHEN
Parminder Nagra as NEELA RASGOTRA
Linda Cardellini as SAMANTHA TAGGART
Shane West as RAY BARNETT
Laura Innes as KERRY WEAVER
Available on DVD July 14 erTV.com
Studio: Warner Bros.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Drama continues with the doctors staffing the emergency room at County General Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) is struggling to overcome the grief after the death of his infant son. Luka and Samantha (Goran Visnjic and Linda Cardellini) are ironing out their rocky relationship. Dr. Pratt and Dr. Chen (Mekhi Phifer and Ming-Na) get caught in a road rage crossfire. And Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) tries on her doctor shoes while Neela Rasgotra (Parminder Nagra) meets the challenges of changing careers.
WHAT I LIKED
Ever since I read “Jurassic Park” in college, I have been a fan of Michael Crichton’s work. However, I never did get caught up in his big television coup, “e.r.” Although the show was on the air for fifteen years on NBC, I only caught a few episodes – most notably the live episode that aired in the late 1990s during the George Clooney years.
Picking up “e.r.” in the eleventh season was a bit of a rocky road. The drama is definitely there, but I did miss out on the long history of the characters. Of the original cast, the lynchpin in this season is Dr. Carter (Wyle), although he had been off the show and back on already. Even now, his character was jumping the shark as he debated whether or not to leave again.
If you’re looking for drama, you’ll find a lot of it in “e.r.” Like other medical shows, both from the past (e.g., “St. Elsewhere”) and the present (e.g., “Grey’s Anatomy”), the characters may be doctors with a solid career path, but they’re completely screwed up on a personal level. There’s a certain amount of reassuring that goes on for the audience to see these character who should have it all together completely fall apart at the seams.
While this show – and no other like it on television – will give a totally realistic portrayal of working in an emergency room, it allows the audience to have a hyper-realistic glimpse past that drawn curtain we usually only see from the gurney level. Like a look behind the badge of a cop drama, “e.r.” offers a vicarious view of the lives of people who deal with life and death every day.
I remember as an independent filmmaker earlier in this decade that “e.r.” was one of the first cinematic shows to break out of the weekly doldrums of series television. It was one of the first shows to broadcast in widescreen, and the camerawork set the stage for modern television as we know it... now if they could just do something about that Donahue-ish theme song.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
I like a good dose of drama, but I usually like it to be about characters that I like. My biggest stumbling block with “e.r.” as a show (and this was probably the reason I never got into the series when my wife watched it religiously several years ago) is that I really don’t like any of the characters. I don’t mind a little bit of realistic flaws for the people on television, but I had very little sympathy or empathy for anyone in the emergency room.
The characters couldn’t rise out of their own problems, and all of their wounds were largely self-inflicted. There’s a high degree of moping in County General, and that just wasn’t appealing to me.
Plus, I have to laugh at how unrealistic the E.R. scenario is. I’ve been to the emergency room several times in my life, and you’re just as likely to see a bunch of poor people with no insurance coming in for the sniffles as much as you are to see people pouring in after an apartment fire.
Being its eleventh season, the featurette angle for the show has died away. We’re left with “Outpatient Outtakes” for most of the episodes in the season, which are the “e.r.” term for deleted scenes.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
People who love 500 cc’s of drama every week.