14 years is a looooong time for a show to run but for the 14th year my wife and I sat down to watch the premiere of ER. Sure all of the characters who started with the show are long gone but the producers have done a decent job in rotating interesting characters through from year to year.
This season, we’re treated to the latest heavy hitter addition to the cast, the almost always brilliant Stanley Tucci. After last season’s crappy 3 LBS (I watched 1 episode and thought my brain was going to die of boredom) and an episode or 2 at the end of last season, he’s now joined the cast full time as the new head of the ER, replacing Luka. I generally liked his balance of philosopher, mentor, a-hole and leader – very similar to Weaver when she joined the cast. That being said they seem to be trying to show so many dimensions of him at one time that I’m not sure we got any real meaningful insight into his character. I guess we’ll see which direction they take him from here.
ER has always done a good job of using the medical cases to develop the characters and the show continues to stick to the formula in its 14th season. Unlike Grey’s Anatomy which uses the cases as symbols for how the characters are feeling in order to make the voiceovers work, ER uses the cases to allow the characters to bounce off each other and give them something to react too. It may be a subtle difference but to me it’s the difference between a medical drama with some soapy tendencies and a pure soap opera set in a hospital.
The cases tonight carried forward from last year’s cliffhanger where a bomb went off at an anti-war rally. Although a lot of the drama revolved around Neela being injured I’m not sure there was much suspense there. I did, however, like the scene with Debanko and Abby. The other stories touched on the other injured, some of whom were fine (the hippie Howard Hessman) and some who were not so lucky (the young girl who attended with her grandfather who was reliving his old protesting days). Of course the person who set off the bomb ended up in the ER, was revealed by John Stamos who got exiled to the dog house yet again, and was ultimately killed by the grieving grandfather. All good stories in the tradition of classic ER.
Despite my generally positive review, I think it’s time to finally pull the plug on this show at the end of the season. We already know Carter and Luka are coming back. If they take the time to start planning now, maybe they can line up even more of the classic characters – Benton, Weaver, Doug and Carol and even maybe Dr. Green in a flashback. As much as the episode was good, it still feels like I’ve seen everything so many times before. Time to move on.
Avi’s Episode Rating: B