"E.R.: THE COMPLETE THIRTEENTH SEASON"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Goran Visnjic as LUKA KOVAC
Maura Tierney as ABBY LOCKHART
Mekhi Phifer as GREGORY PRATT
Parminder Nagra as NEELA RASGOTRA
John Stamos as TONY GATES
Linda Cardellini as SAMANTHA TAGGART
Shane West as RAY BARNETT
Scott Grimes as ARCHIE MORRIS
Laura Innes as KERRY WEAVER
Available on DVD July 6
Studio: Warner Bros.
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The drama continues at Chicago’s County General Hospital emergency room. After Sam and her son are kidnapped by her convict husband, she takes matters into her own hands. Abby and Luka deal with the challenges of a troubled pregnancy and the potential for marriage. Pratt faces criminal charges as he tries to help a local church. And Neela deals with her own love triangle and a new woman who threatens her relationships. Nothing is easy when you’re a doctor in this E.R.
WHAT I LIKED
Not being a fan of the series when it was broadcast, I’ve been coming at these most recent seasons of “E.R.” with a relatively fresh eye. That has allowed me to check out the later years without the burden of wishing for the original cast.
It seems to me that the characters have improved a bit, as I haven’t been so annoyed with them. Some of this comes from the fact that the people are not just challenged with their own insecurities and shortcomings but rather by other outside forces. For example, when Luka faces a malpractice suit, the repercussions are very serious. Not only does this give a well-needed outside villain to his and Abby’s storyline, but it also gives a chance for guest star Forest Whitaker to show off his acting chops on television, which he did in “The Shield” several years ago.
However, the biggest breath of fresh air comes at the end of the season with Stanley Tucci coming on as the new chief of the E.R. Not only is Tucci a fantastic actor who is likeable in practically everything he does, but the character himself is a hard-nosed bastard intent on whipping this haphazard and complacent emergency room staff into shape.
The only problem with the addition of Tucci is that he is presented as the new bad guy... and I like him too much for that.
WHAT I LIKED
The problems with this season of “E.R.” are similar to my problems with previous seasons. While it’s a well made and cinematic show, the characters get on my nerves. Sure, Abby can be whiney and a pain, but it’s folks like Neela who brings a “Twilight” level of angst and longing to her character. It doesn’t help that she’s still pining for the conceited and too-cool-for-school Ray.
Fortunately, Pratt has been downplayed a bit this year, giving him his one-off stories but rarely being the overall series arc focus. Unfortunately, his status has been replaced with Sam, quite possibly the worst person in the whole show. Yeah, Linda Cardellini is easy on the eyes, but her perpetually damaged and entitled persona makes her a pain to watch. I see a lot of what will become the character structure of other dreadful medical dramas like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice,” and that just makes me sad.
Where’s the soulful and loveable characters of “M*A*S*H” when you really need them?
Like the previous season, the only special features are “Outpatient Outtakes” for most of the episodes, which are the “E.R.” term for deleted scenes.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who wants to see the pre-evolution of other popular medical shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.”