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RUNNING TIME: 975 minutes
Pretty doctors with problems in an understaffed Chicago hospital. Sound familiar?
Maura Tierney, Goran Visnjic, Mekhi Pheifer, Scott Grimes.
Doctors and nurses at County General Hospital fall in and out of love, while dealing with patients with ALS, treating a monkey and the occasional shootout in the emergency room.
Believe it or not, there was a time when E.R. was actually a relevant primetime drama that was snagging millions of viewers every Thursday night. During the mid to late 1990’s, it maintained one of the best ensemble casts on network television including George Clooney, Juliana Marguelies and Anthony Edwards. Of course, they moved on and so had I.
Much to my chagrin, I learned that E.R. was still being produced by NBC (at great expense. $2 million dollars an episode, plus change.) throughout the first decade of the new millennium. Who’d have known? Screenwriters were able squeeze out more sex, drama and trauma victims to circulate throughout Chicago’s County General Hospital. Cue to the arrival on my doorstep of E.R. Season 12, recently released by Warners. Take into account that I haven’t really been following the plot of the series for almost half a decade. With that in mind, I just have to sit in awe and wonder why a show set in a Chicago hospital decides to take a detour to the Darfur.
Several episodes within this season follow Dr. Gregory Pratt (Mekhi Pheifer) in Central Africa, treating patients during the genocide and working with Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) who left during season 11 to pursue humanitarian work. Look, it’s all very noble for a show to make a political statement about a mass genocide. Too bad that this show’s very premise just doesn’t support this in any way. During one episode we follow Dr. Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) and her co-horts as they treat a monkey in the hospital. Oh, and in the season finale, titled “21 Guns,” a massive shoot out ensues in the emergency room. This would have to be the third or fourth time this happens during the series. And I want to get treated at this hospital, why?
That said, there are some impressive episodes, including “Body and Soul” with guest star James Woods, playing a former physician and teacher of Lockhart’s who is in the final stages of ALS. Hell, he earned a well deserved Emmy nomination. It was also refreshing to see Scott Grimes, playing Dr. Archie Morris, emerge as a full time character in the series. I’ve followed Grimes since I first noted him in the HBO miniseries, Band of Brothers. He’s worth watching.
E.R. finally passed away in 2009. The quality of the series varied from excellent to mediocre. Just my bad luck that this was one of the lesser seasons.
Not much to say in terms of packaging. Six discs, with typically four to five episodes per disc, there is a solid 2.0 stereo track per episode. It certainly does the job. The transfer is also satisfactory with no edge enhancement. It’s a fairly sharp image. For extras, you get a handful of outtakes and deleted scenes. Nothing much that you’d be missing though.