Time for the first grab-bag post of the season. Quick-hit spoilers for, in order, "ER," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Sons of Anarchy" coming up just as soon as I patch over a rival fantasy football team so I can bolster my running back corps...
Giving up on "ER" as anything but casual viewing has made me far more forgiving of things that would have driven me nuts about it when I actually cared. So they killed off Pratt, and it should be ridiculous and over-the-top given the number of ER personnel they've bumped off in extreme ways (Lucy gets stabbed, Mark Greene takes forever to die of cancer, Rocket Romano somehow angers the helicopter gods twice), but instead of rolling my eyes, I was actually a little moved by it. It helped that they distanced his death from the explosion, that there was a period where he seemed fine and was even giving orders about how he should be treated; it made his death feel less part of a lame, sensationalistic cliffhanger and more of a character piece. Like Lucy mouthing her own diagnosis right before she crashed, Pratt's awareness of just how bad this was made it hit a lot harder than it otherwise might have. And, of course, it helps that Mekhi Phifer is such an expressive actor.
Given that they devoted an entire act of the episode to memorializing him (a treatment not all the dearly departed -- like Rocket -- received), it would have been nice for Abby or one of the old-school nurses to remark on what a massive tool Pratt was when he first arrived at County. Most of the other characters in the run of the show have either started off fully-formed or got written out before they had a chance to evolve; other than Carter, Pratt arguably grew the most of anyone in the entire run of the series, and there's something to be said for that, even at this extremely late date. He annoyed the hell out of me when he was introduced -- as I'm sure he was supposed to -- and now I'm going to miss him for the limited time the show has left.
Not a good double-header for "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" this week, I thought. The two season-opening episodes, while typically uneven, at least had some very funny individual moments -- Dee and Charlie trying to reconcile cannibalism with racism, the three guys all trying to seduce the loan officer, any scene featuring the cry of "Wild card!" -- where these two were fairly flat throughout. Other than the return of Green Man, and maybe the scene where Charlie and Dennis thought they were listening to Mac tell The Waitress about some cross-dressing sex fantasy, I doubt I'll even remember what happened a day or two from now.
Finally, "Sons of Anarchy" goes for more of an action episode, with a couple of bike-on-bike chases and the shootout at the Nevada biker bar. I'm slowly warming to the ancillary characters -- Tig's refusal to bond with Juice was a highlight -- but still not feeling Jax, unfortunately.
Also, I'm a little shocked by how different Jay Karnes looks and acts here than he does as Dutch on "The Shield." I know he's an actor, and that some of it's simply the haircut (and letting the gray show through, which is actually an improvement), but I'm so used to him as the dweeby serial killer-phile that it's strange to see him as this more confident ATF guy.
What did everybody else think? Anybody still watching "Sons of Anarchy" at this point? Or "ER," for that matter?