Friday, April 3, 2009

The end of an ERa

ER Original cast Get it? "ER"a?

Yes, last night was the series finale of "ER." 15 years of blood, guts, drama, laughter and tears. If you're not a fan of the show, this entry might not mean much to you, so I won't be offended if you choose not to read it.

I wasn't a viewer for all 15 years. I started watching early on, then got away from it in the middle years. For the past 7 or 8 years (since I've known Ken--he's a fan of the show), I've been a faithful viewer, although there were quite a few nights when I was working when I couldn't make it through till 11 PM. A summary of the final show, and then some commentary.

I thought they did a good job with the finale. The first hour was a retrospective in which they talked about various story lines and characters. I enjoyed that, because there were so many things that happened that I'd forgotten, like Dr. Carter becoming an addict. They mentioned one of my favorite characters, Dr. Romano, and spoke with the actor who played him, Paul McCrane. Dr. Romano could be such a bastard, but a doctor you'd want on your side, no doubt about it. They spoke of the death of Dr. Greene, which still makes me weep. (Today my eyes looked like I'd gone a couple of rounds with a prizefighter. I was a mess last night!)

The final two hours were a pretty typical "ER" episode, with a few happy reunions and a possible reconciliation between Dr. Carter and his wife, as well as Dr. Gates and Sam. A little social commentary when Dr. Gates treats a teenage girl who is in an alcohol-induced coma. She and her girlfriends were drinking at a party, her Blood Alcohol level was over .40 (typically lethal), and it turned out that the booze was supplied by the parents of the girl at whose house the party took place. Dr. Gates rightly called the police, as it is a crime to supply alcohol to a minor, and it infuriates me to hear parents say, "I'd rather they drink at home than be out running around." You can be prosecuted for that, folks, especially if the kids get into an accident, or like the young girl on "ER," go into a coma.

Dr. Carter Dr. Carter officially opens the Carter Center, the clinic he built (using most of his family fortune) in honor of his deceased baby boy. A very touching moment, and he turned his own personal tragedy into something that would help others. What a good guy.

In what was probably the most touching--and surprising--moment, at least for me (dammit, I'm crying again), we see a group of prospective medical students taking a tour of the ER, to see if emergency medicine is the right choice for them. It is slowly revealed that one of the young women is Rachel Greene, the now grownup daughter of Dr. Greene. In the scene where Dr. Greene dies, he speaks to Rachel (a troubled teen at the time) and tries to make her understand that she needs to straighten out her life, needs to do good rather than piss her life away. What a wonderful thing to see that she took her father's advice and did right by him, and even chose to carry on in his footsteps.

The show ends with the news that a huge trauma is coming in, with multiple burn victims. Everyone gears up (including Dr. Carter, who hasn’t formally announced that he’s returning to County) and waits for the victims to arrive. They stand outside waiting, hearing the sirens get closer and closer, and as the ambulances pull into the bay, they go into action. The camera pulls away, and we finally get to see a shot of the entire building that is County General Hospital, with the El going by as we watch. I thought it was an excellent ending, and turned to Ken and said, "Just another day in the ER."

I was glad that they didn't have some sort of huge disaster, where the hospital was blown up or something, or a fiscal disaster where the hospital was closed because they didn't have the money to continue. We all got some closure with a few things, and we know that life--and death--goes on in our favorite ER, as it does in every other hospital across the country and around the world.

Why did I love this show so much? Why am I sitting here crying all over again? Why can't I get a grip? I can't answer the last one, but I can get a handle on the first two.

ER Doug and Carol As someone in healthcare myself, I appreciated the excellent writing and the accuracy. Michael Crichton, the novelist, was first a medical doctor, and created this show. His knowledge as a doctor guided the way the show was produced, and I believe the show always upheld his insistence on accuracy. (I'm sorry that he didn't live to see the ending of the wonderful show he created.) Nothing makes me crazier than stupid or nonsensical dialogue when it comes to medical and laboratory stuff. "ER" always did great on the lingo, and I appreciated that. I also loved the dichotomy of the characters. Are they noble people who are dedicated to saving your life, or are they just like the rest of us, with all the emotional problems of everyday people? They're both, and that's the whole point. Just like the aforementioned Dr. Romano, who could be a real A-hole, but if he rode your ass, it was because you weren't doing enough to help save the patient. I've known some doctors like that over the years, people where you say, "Man, what a jerk. But if I'm ever in the hospital, make sure you bring him in on my case."

I think it's a testament to the amazing writing that I grew so attached to the characters that their absence makes me cry. You get to know these fictional people after a while, and you go through some pretty emotional things with them. I don't think there's ever been a show that made me feel such strong emotions as "ER" did. You know they want to save their patients, you rejoice when they do, and you mourn with them when they don't. "In the midst of life we are in death," and I don't believe any show has ever illustrated that better than "ER."

I will miss it greatly.


  1. Bless you sweetie! I watched that show a few times, & I could have got hookedut just never had the opportunity to watch it regularly. I didn't realize it was going off too.

  2. Hey Beth:
    I maybe one of the few Amercians who has never watched ER. I was still an LPN at the time the show started and when I came home, I just wanted to leave work outside. But I'd heard great things about the show and it sounds like a pefect ending.

  3. I never watched a single episode of ER, I'm afraid. I'm just NOT into medical stuff. I read your blog entry anyway, and now I know a lot more about the show.

  4. Beth:

    Well Said! I could not have said it better myself. I've watched all but about 10 episodes since it came on, even if I had to tape it. This show and Mash are the two best medical shows that has been on television. But this one I could really relate to, and have talked like you. As if they were real people and if I wanted I could just swing by ER in Chicago. I'm glad you mentioned Romano, and how his charactor was underapreciated. I will admit I wanted to jump in the screen and knock is teeth out at times. But other times I could repspect him, and feel fo him. I thought the writers did a great job with his role, after the accident. It showed the viewer how human he was.

    There many people who stopped by the ER, but Alan Alda was one of my favorites. But I can't remember what became of his charactor? I will have to check it out on the sites later.

    Who was one of your other favorite people who paid a visit to County General?

    So, what do you think will happen between Carter and his wife? I think the episode spells it out, what do you think?

    Thank you for this excellent entry!


  5. Beth...thanks for the recap...I used to watch ER faithfully...untill for some reason I just could not stay up that late anymore...I tried to watch the finally..but it wound up "watching" I will miss the show too. Vwry well writen..characters were great..(yes EVEN Dr.Romano)The show made Dr.s seem..more "REAL" or human.


  6. Very well said Beth. You know I am a die hard ER fan. TNT runs the series from the beginning up to a point and then starts over again (day-time TV) and I make sure I am up and have my coffee in hand to watch it every morning. I'm so sad that it is over for good. I may have to buy the series on DVD before long. Oh, and the tears?...I couldn't stand to see Dr. Greene die again. I cry every time I think about it.
    Hugs, Joyce

  7. I never missed an episode if at all possible. Losing Dr. Greene was one of the saddest episodes I ever saw. I can't believe it's over...and I too am going to miss it greatly.

  8. Hi Beth,
    What, no script? I really liked your rendition of Guiding Light ... just imagine what you could do with the ER cast of characters.

  9. I used to watch ER, but they kept moving it around so much that I finally lost track. It was a good show. :)

  10. If I recall, Alan Alda's character started demonstrating signs of Alzheimer's and had to quit practicing.

    I got away from watching the show 5-6 years ago when it seemed like every episode was a "very special" one or some outrageous disaster was going to happen. It took away from the characters. I got curious about it again this year when I heard it was ending, and I am glad I did, but I was confused a few times trying to figure out what happened to some of them (I did not know Pratt died until the recap show last night).

    Last night's finale was just about perfect. I was even impressed that they had a little bit of heartbreak with the mom who had twins.

    Fifteen years is a long time for a TV show, and I doubt we'll see something last that long again for a while.

  11. It was a great show and will be missed. I watched it for a long time then I kind of drifted away from it for some reason, I have no idea why... Wonder if they will start a show with the Clinic? That would be great I think... Hugs, Teresa

  12. No, the last show was the first one I watched from begining to end. AKA tricked me, knowing that I watched NBC from 8 - 10. She wanted to come over for a pizza night IF I was going to be watching NBC. I said yes and ...

    Thanks for shedding some light to why it may have touched so many people. I felt the same way when M*A*S*H ended. I was really touched, and I was still a snooty young cat then!

    Was the last 'finish' that I found myself caring about.

    But since you spoke of the accuracy of the show, I prolly would have liked it. That kind of thing would have nagged me, because whenever I catch it in a story, the inaccuracies or lack of authenticity in the show, it takes away from my enjoyment.

    Next ... are you going to give 'SouthLAnd' a try? They tried it once with a show call 'Boomtown', to tell a LA cop story that didn't make it. But it was very, very good.

  13. You're life must be really empty for you to write all this clumsy drivel about.....a stupid TV show? Maybe you should shut off the television and read a book, exercise, meditate, cook, ANYTHING but obsess over something idiotic like ER. Hand me a barf bag, please!

  14. Holy Moly, I finally just got around to this entry and the absolutely rediculous comment from Anon :o) How far off the mark and so nonsensical :o)

    Thursday nights will not be the same, hard to believe it was 15 years.

  15. I've watched the entire 15 years, every episode. And yes, I read, exercise, meditate AND cook, along with many other things outside of my boring tv life. ;) I liked the ending but thought it could've done without the corny music that was spread throughout. Otherwise, I thought it was great. I, too, loved that they made it all seem as if those med students would be the next to go on and that nothing would ever change. I hate that it has to end.

  16. Thank you for that wrap-up. I'm so glad they put in the bit with Rachel, showing that she went into medicine.


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