Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sepinwall on TV: Disaster days at 'ER'

Today's column celebrates the 300th episode of "ER" (yes, it's still on, and it's actually not bad these days) with a partial list of the various disasters to befall County General and its staff over the years.

16 comments:

Stacie said...

I can't believe anyone would want to live in Chicago after seeing all these disasters...(and yes, I saw them all).

max_headroom said...

hi Alan, thank you so much for this article on "ER" on the day of its 300th episode! I'm ashamed to say that I would have forgotten about it had it not been for your column. Do "Love Labor Lost" (season 1 episode 19) and "The Healers" (season 2 episode 16) count? That's kind of the two episodes that's always been the most memorable to me for the series.

jcpbmg said...

it's funny just how ridiculous they all sound when listed together

i watched the abby relapse episode (my first since carter left) but the majority of the characters just seem so one-dimentional with issues that are just more forced than usual.

i truly long for the days of carter, benton, lewis, greene and ross.

alan, do you know when the episodes with jeanie are airing (or were they ultimately not even shot)?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Do "Love Labor Lost" (season 1 episode 19) and "The Healers" (season 2 episode 16) count? That's kind of the two episodes that's always been the most memorable to me for the series.

For the purposes of a disaster list, I don't know that they count (Death in childbirth and death while firefighting are tragedies, but not budget-busting disasters. Even "Hell and High Water" is kind of a reach, frankly.) But they were definitely memorable.

Alan Sepinwall said...

it's funny just how ridiculous they all sound when listed together

I know. I originally intended to be a lot snarkier in recounting each incident, then realized the list snarked for itself.

alan, do you know when the episodes with jeanie are airing (or were they ultimately not even shot)?

I think they were the last two episodes produced before production shut down. Don't know when they'll air. Next week, there's an SNL Christmas special in the timeslot, and I know they're rerunning last year's Christmas episode on Dec. 27, so they may just hold them until the new year.

Lizbeth said...

I became a huge ER fan during Season Two and have watched just about every episode between then and Season 12. It was kind of nice knowing that every Thursday night it would be there...like a convenient friend.

But the last two seasons I've fallen away. Perhaps it has become too familiar and too repetitive. I actually think the more they've strayed into the personal lives of the ER doctors the less I care. Besides, it seems like every time we glimpse into the family lives of the docs there is some unnecessary tragedy -- like the killing or maiming of an ER parent, spouse, or offspring.

I think Sam and her whole situation with her abusive husband and how they turned it into a Lifetime "Woman in Jeopardy" Movie ultimately turned me away from the series for good.

Don't get me wrong -- the cast is still very talented (Maura Tierney deserves many awards), and the writing is far better than Grey's Anatomy and I'll catch a show here and there -- but it's not on my "must see" list anymore.

To me, the show has over-stayed its welcome. And I wish it had ended two years ago when I still cared. When the eventual series finale does air, I doubt I'll tune in to see how it all ends. Which is sad after I invested so many years into it (seriously, I think I missed one episode in ten years because of a family funeral).

At this point, the only thing that would get me truly excited about the ER finale would be an appearance by George Clooney.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Lizbeth, I think some of my renewed fondness for the show comes from not having watched regularly in years. It's easier to forget how they've told all these stories before if you haven't seen any of them in a while. (I also conveniently missed almost all of the stuff with Sam and the various actors playing her ex-husband.)

David Zabel, the current showrunner, says that, while their audience is much smaller than it used to be, the average age hasn't really gone up, meaning a lot of the audience came to the show later and therefore aren't as jaded about the repetition the way I used to be or the way you are now, Lizbeth.

dcj said...

Alan,

I haven't watched the last season and a half, but is Luka not a regular cast member anymore? i thought he had been on longer than Abby.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Luka is no longer a regular. He pops up now and then, as he and Abby are still married (he's been in the last two or three episodes), but the writers keep sending him back to Croatia for family emergencies since Goran doesn't want to be full-time anymore.

And Luka only pre-dated Abby by half a season. She first appeared in the Thanksgiving episode where Carol delivered her twins, and became a regular midway through that year.

Chaddogg said...

I still think that "Hell and High Water" from Season 2 might be the single greatest hour of television drama I've ever watched. The action/tension in the "A" story (Doug saving the kid in the drain/media covering it) was beautifully juxtaposed with Carter losing a little girl who didn't seem to be all that sick to begin with.

Seriously, check it out - the best episode of the series ever (although, admittedly, I stopped watching around the time that Carol left)

KaveDweller said...

I can't believe I have been watching this show from the beginning. I remember almost all the episodes in your list, and the most vivid ones are from season 2 or 3. That means I was about 15 when they aired. It is kinda unbelievable.

Rebecca said...

Alan do you know why ER isn't online? I was actually talking with my roommates about this and all of us loved ER in high school but there's no way we're going to be around to watch TV on Thurs @ 10. As college students who started watching during the Lucy Knight years we're part of that demo Zabel is talking about that doesn't know the old characters. That being said, I've seen all of the old one's on DVD now and WOW what a difference. Nothing since I've been watching can compare to "Love's Labor Lost", "Exodus",or "Hell and High Water." And poor Laura Innes, the quality of writing that Weaver has gotten fluctuates SO much.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan do you know why ER isn't online?

Probably because it's not owned by NBC (it's a Warner Bros. production). While you sometimes see non-network-owned shows pop up on their network's on-line "promotional" sites ("Scrubs" is a Disney production, but it's on Hulu), it's a much more complicated deal to arrange.

Kyle Wasko said...

Solid list, Alan. The show's high mark was definitely between S2 and S7, and I confess that I stopped watching for part of last season, but this season (in large part due to Scott Grimes' great work) has been a pleasant surprise.

Only omission that I could think of:
9.22 Kisangani: Carter, Luka, and the Congolese Army. Verrrrry intense episode from what I recall.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Again, this wasn't a Best-Of list, but a list of the varied and unusual disasters that have befallen the staff of County General. The various trips to Africa don't qualify for that any more than "Love's Labors Lost," just as I would never put, say, the runaway tank episode on a Top 10 list.

PamelaJaye said...

I'm still reading the article - after being let down that the nearest Charlie Brown's restaurant is 909 miles away (darn it - that prime rib looked good)

The Crossing - the train crash ep you mention: Carter performed that amputation on the eventually to be Denny Duquette. I found it amusing, watching it on TNT last year.