STUDIO: Warner Home Video
MSRP: $49.98
RUNNING TIME: 976 Minutes
• Outpatient outtakes: unaired scenes
• Cutups: gag reel

The Pitch

Season 5 of a shload of people playing doctor.

The Humans

Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Noah Wylie, Eriq La Salle, Julianna Margulies, Gloria Reuben, Laura Innes, Alex Kingston, Kellie Martin.

"Well, time to start my long and soon-to-be-legendary medical career. I tell ya, nothing short of getting stabbed in the heart by a degenerate is gonna keep me from making my mark in the world…"

The Nutshell

A whole bunch as usual. This was Clooney’s last season on the show as Doug Ross, also the last full season for Gloria Reuben as Jeanie Boulet (she would leave early in Season 6). Benton (La Salle) has a relationship with Corday (Kingston) which disintegrates as Benton becomes preoccupied with other things, most notably his deaf son; but Corday wasn’t single long as she starts the kernel of a relationship with Green (Edwards). Speaking of Green, he gets to spend quality time with his daughter after he and his wife had separated. He also had to try to balance his friendship with Ross and his duty as attending when Ross continued to get himself in trouble. Ross starts the season on probation but moves into running a pediatric ER. His relationship with Hathaway (Margulies) had solidified after four seasons, but his disregard for procedure eventually led to his having to resign; but Hathaway decided not to go with him, despite the fact that she was pregnant with their twins. New med student Lucy Knight (Martin) arrived on the scene. She got paired up with Carter and their relationship started off rocky and went downhill from there. Oh and Carter was sporting a ridiculous new look (think Grizzly Adams).

"Bet I get whacked before you do."
"We’ll see about that, Goose-boy."

The Lowdown

Season Five was one of change for ER. Maverick pediatrician Dr. Ross (Clooney) had to take a powder after five years due to his bucking the system and disregard for procedure and authority finally catching up with him (in reality Clooney went off to do flicks). This in turn put the kibosh on his relationship with Hathaway (at least for a while), after they had finally gotten back together for good. And Hathaway also discovers that the result of that relationship is two twins on the way. At the end of Season 4, Ross had performed a detox procedure on an infant without getting the mother’s consent and he was put on probation, which means that he had to get Weaver’s sign-off on every procedure he does and that story carries over into the beginning of Season 5. But eventually Ross earns the role of pediatric attending and started a new pediatric ER. Ross’ main storyline for Season 5 dealt with him seeing a patient (a dying boy) during a blind study and then breaking protocol so that the mother of the boy could give her son a lethal dosage of as drug to end his suffering. This led to his essentially being back on probation and he finally decided to quit and relocate to Portland.

"So what can you tell me about these head scans of Merchan?"
"Obvious mental instability, excessive thoughts of Natalie Portman…in The Professional, parietal lobe suggests unsuccessful calculations as to why Paris Hilton exists, and memory center suggests unusual recollections of George C. Scott’s butt cleavage…"

Meanwhile, Dr. Green (Edwards) had his hands full as he continued to deal with his daughter, who is staying with him for the summer while his ex-wife is away working. Greene also dabbled in working with EMTs when they offered him a position as their supervisor. Green’s relationship with Corday also takes root later in the season. Weaver decided to try to stay in Chicago after her residency was up and this meant that she had to start all over as an intern, which led her having to do grunt work for awhile. She eventually ended her relationship with Benton (if memory serves, the scuttlebutt on that situation was that La Salle put the skids on that storyline with Kingston due to his not wanting to portray an interracial relationship). Corday eventually decided to remain in Chicago by seeking a grant, one that eventually went to Benton, which also didn’t help their relationship. Furthermore, when she stayed on as an intern, it was under Benton.

"So baby, did I tell you that I’m really a millionaire who just does this doctor thing for shits and giggles? That I can actually buy this hospital and everything and everyone in it, but yet I still save lives heroically on a daily basis?"
"Please. You going to shave that dead muskrat on your face or what?"

Speaking of Dr. Benton (La Salle), he discovers that his son Reese is deaf. This led to his considering an implant, surgery, and learning how to use sign language. Most importantly though, Benton gets his first centric episode as he takes a temp job down in Mississippi during his vacation to raise extra dough and has to deal with some old style Southern racial issues from the white inhabitants, especially while delivering a difficult baby from a white girl whose father is concerned the baby may be black. Meanwhile, Jeanie, who has already adjusted to having HIV, deals with possibly having contracted hepatitis as well. She also begins a relationship with a cop named Reggie and works in Ross’ pediatric ER as a full time PA.

"So…any chance of seeing you in some Soul Glo?"
"Oh for God’s sake, not you too."

Various other storylines included Weaver both jockeying for the ER Chief position and initially being turned down for it. She also took steps to find her birth mother, since she was adopted. The woman who was hired on as the new Chief, Amanda Lee (Mare Winningham) ended up having lied about her medical credentials and stalking Dr. Green. Also, the absence of Dr. Del Amico (Maria Bello, who left after one season) was explained away in the first episode as her having gone back to Philly to work in a Pediatric ER. Romano also got sued for sexual harassment by Dr. Doyle (Jorja Fox), but somehow ended up being acting ER chief. He also facilitated Corday’s staying in Chicago when he asked her to stay in surgery rather than in trauma.

"So what is this on Mr. Oliver’s genitals?"
"Peanut butter looks like. Extra chunky."
"You think this has anything to do with that stripper with Welch’s Grape Jelly on her butt crack?"

The biggest change to the season, other than Clooney’s leaving, was the addition of Kellie Martin as med student, Lucy Knight. The season premiere dealt with her first day in the ER and in subsequent episodes, she cut her teach, often times clashing with Carter, who ended up being her resident (teacher). Their relationship eventually thawed and even went the romantic route. She also got addicted to Ritalin for a time, which every good doctor does at one time or another. And as for Carter, after he decided to switch back to being an ER doc from a surgeon and had to give up his salary, he took a job as a dorm RA and grew a ridiculous beard in the process. Thankfully, he lost the beard in a tragic glue incident. He also dated a hot insurance sales rep, Roxanne (Boston Legal’s Julie Bowen) for a time.

There’s a ton more, but basically, this was the last ride for the original ER crew that started the show. With Clooney’s departure, and Margulies’ in Season 6, Edwards’ and La Salle’s in Season 8, Season 5 would truly start ER’s revolving door policy on bringing in new talent to replace the old. The first was Goran Visjnic, who tried to up the beefcake factor in Season 6 after Clooney’s departure. All the elements that ER was known for, the great writing, the great cast and interesting patient cases are still here, as well as the excellent camera work week in and week out. ER has been good for a long time and although I stuck with it for 11 seasons, this was the last ride for the old guard.

"So you’re sure this woman is brain dead?"
"Yes, doctor."
"Okay, I’m going to need everyone to step outside while I perform a full pelvic…"

The Package

The show looks good in 1.78:1 and like I said, this is the show that practically established the need for a steadicam as there are many flowing shots from one room of the set to the next as we go from patient to patient and doctor to doctor. The audio is also suitably fine in Dolby, and the cover art is consistently cool. If you look at the back cover, with a cast shot, you’ll see how the cast has pretty much been overhauled in the 12 season run of the show so far. Of the nine cast members present in Season 5 (Reuben, Martin, La Salle, Edwards, Kingston, Innes, Clooney, Margulies, Wylie), only Laura Innes remains to this day. The special features are a little light in that there’s only Outpatient Outtakes (deleted scenes) for many of the episodes and a gag reel. It would have been way cool if they could have wrangled Clooney for a commentary on his final episode. But the episodes are still solid and this is a good box set to get if you’re a fan of the show.

7.7 out of 10