Friday, October 10, 2008

ER & Grey's Anatomy: Evacuation situations

Spoilers for last night's "ER" and "Grey's Anatomy" coming up just as soon as I take off these three-inch heels...

On "ER," how many times is this now that the County ER has been evacuated? Off the top of my head, I can think of two -- the benzene spill from "Exodus" (one of my favorite episodes) and the smallpox outbreak that bridged seasons 8 & 9 -- and I'm sure there was at least one more during those seasons where I only watched on occasion and didn't care. Once again, we have to ask the question of which is the most cursed place in TV history: the Sunnydale Hellmouth from "Buffy," the 15th Precinct on "NYPD Blue," or County General?

Look, they've been on the air for 15 years. I get that they've told every possible story there is to tell at least twice before, if not five or six times. But if you're going to do an evacuation story involving WMDs, then you need to do it up right. There wasn't nearly enough MacGyver medicine or sense of the havoc being wreaked; it was mainly just an excuse to put Gates in a room with three of the four new interns so we could learn that Shiri Appleby is a pessimist, Emily Rose is a vapid clothes horse and the other guy likes to rely on his BlackBerry and lies to his wife.

I also wasn't crazy about the introduction of the new chief. I love Angela Bassett and am frustrated she hasn't had as huge a career as she should have, but she also has a tendency in some roles to deliver her dialogue in a very mannered way that works on the big screen but doesn't seem natural at all on TV. (It was the same way in her brief stint on "Alias.") Say what you will about latter-day "ER," but the performances all feel real, and I hope Bassett dials it down a little between now and the end of the show's run.

Still, the "ER" evacuation was more interesting than the one on "Grey's Anatomy." I understand how a burst pipe and runaway water could pose a huge danger to doctors and patients, but the episode really failed to sell the threat until the OR ceiling caved in. They would play these beats going into the commercial break where we were obviously supposed to be concerned about the leaks, but mostly I raised my eyebrows and said "You call that an act-out?"

This one didn't have any of the maddening moments from the season premiere, but it also didn't have any of those Shonda Genius moments, and so the entire hour just felt flat. The guest stars (including Daniel J. Travanti from "Hill Street Blues" as the pain patient) got their big emotional monologues, but they didn't feel as earned as similar bits in other episodes. I actually felt more engaged by the incest story on "Private Practice" the night before.

What did everybody else think?

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

It wasn't until the last scene when his character broke down that I thought, 'Is that Daniel J. Travanti?' My next thought was it can't be, he looks so old. But I thought he did such a great I realized I missed seeing him on TV.

Pamela Jaye said...

I spent half the ep wondering which one was Travanti, and waiting for the ceilings to come down (i don't watch the Next week on's anymore)

I adore Exodus. I save it on my DVR. it took me 4 tries. Carter was awesome. I like stuff like that.

My leg hurts. This means it will be hugely swollen and Cristina and Callie... er.. Gates will have to do a fasciotomy sans anaesthesia - except on ER they will *tell* you it's compartment syndrome.

and come on! dr wyatt *knowing* it was Cristina? it was good. (and i read half of it in a fanfic this summer. no problem tho. at least Mer's not pregnant with twins)

what i loved was the Chief spelling out the new rules. even if Derek broke them almost immediately, I hope that Shonda will hold to them - i found, in seaason 1, a ref to Cristina doing a "rotation" in sommething, and this matters to me. Despite Denny and every other absurdity.

And Alex still loves Izzie. He needs Dr Wyatt too.

Pamela Jaye said...

and i love that your blog lets me post. on a nokia n800. even though i'd turnedd off javascript and couldn't see the submit button - it didn't eat my post like greysriters did THREE times last night. (interesting comment
over there about Ellen Pompeo's reaction to a line. recommended. Krista *must* have been tired = her verbal diarrhea is sadly missing. still...)

and could you tell the folks at ER what you know? you evacuate to the cafeteria! (i fell in love wwith Exodus in reruns. don't remember it from first run. but i saw it. i saw every ep, except storm drain Doug, wwhich i finally caught on its third NBC airing. (overhyped ep IMO)

Jim said...

ER really sucked. The one storyline that had some promise of being interesting, Neela p3wning the cocky new Aussie, went to third rate Moonlighting. The Linda Cardinelli-John Stamos relationship was ordered from a J.C Penney catalogue. Too much time with the new interns. And the previews showing yet another VerySpecialFarewellToAnOldFriend. Oy. I like Maura Tierney and her character, but there was enough saccharine in the preview to make me want to skip the episode.

And I totally agree on Angela Bassett. Great actress who should be a huge star, but her character was written and played as a cliché.

Rick said...

I finally broke myself away from ER two seasons ago, having watched from Season One, and am fighting the urge to come back for the final season. Good to hear it wasn't bad, but I still can't let myself see even one more.

Anonymous said...

Has Shiri Appleby stayed the same age for the past ten years?

Anonymous said...

I think evacuation episodes are a collective unconscious thing we are working through as a society...it's almost like we all are thinking deep down ,"Ok, if the whole premise of our lives is upended,(Hurricane, flood, WMD, Financial meltdown, disease outbreak) what exit and survival strategies would work best." I liked the plumbing leak at Seattle Grace. Sometimes it's not an act of fate (war, nature, terrorism, disease) that brings our house down, sometimes it's something as mundane as a leaky pipe. And are we ready to handle anything? I liked the Grey's episode, but I'm a fan...

Anonymous said...

Although it wasn't an all-out evacuation deal, the shootout involving Sam's rotten baby-daddy and his criminal partners in the Season 12 finale fit into the "the outside world enters the ER and all hell breaks loose pattern". Plus it ended with Jerry getting shot, Luka being tied up and nearly paralyzed, and Abby going into bloody premature labor.
I hope Angela Bassett doesn't become a sort of Kerry Weaver 2.0 character. While seeing a picture of her with what looked like a husband and a young son was interesting for future reference, my favorite sequence with her involved her defending Morris to Frank right after Morris blew up at her, and then telling Frank his work was subpar. LOL!
The new interns could be a nice touch to end the show on a "life at County goes on" note, as long as they evolve past the first impressions (Shiri A.'s downbeat, Emily Rose is superficial, the guys are either too good to be true or facing the kind of off-camera marriage troubles they should have retired when ABC cancelled GIDEON'S CROSSING).
I'll still watch until the series finale.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious how all of a sudden Mark Sloane has ANOTHER specialty. Ahh Shonda.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed this episode a lot, maybe because it focued on all the characters fairly evenly.

Anonymous said...

No, Sloan doesn't have a new specialty--they've mentioned before that he's an ENT. (I watched all four seasons this summer with Netflix, so some of these random details are burned into my memory)

I liked this episode--loved with Christina took the apartment right out from under Izzie's nose. Ha! I hate Izzie. But I do love Callie and Erica and all of their scenes last night were great. They're really cute together. Awww.

hazmatzak said...

Shiri Appleby was actually in the pilot episode of ER as a patient. She has noticeably aged a little since then.

Stef said...

To add to the most recent anon, it's very common for cross-specialties between ENT and plastics. My dad is an ENT surgeon also licensed to do plastic surgery. He doesn't do cosmetic, but it comes up a lot - sadly mostly through car accidents and domestic violence, but reconstructive surgery is a strong counterpart to ENT.

Pamela Jaye said...

Although it wasn't an all-out evacuation deal, the shootout involving Sam's rotten baby-daddy and his criminal partners in the Season 12 finale fit into the "the outside world enters the ER and all hell breaks loose pattern". Plus it ended with Jerry getting shot, Luka being tied up and nearly paralyzed, and Abby going into bloody premature labor.

Boy did i hate that ep. And the one that came after. I'm very glad that Sam finally shot that jerk, and I'm also glad that last night she at least *mentioned* her son - aside from that, as a character, I couldn't care less about her, and I guess Tony was the only guy around to match her up with, or vice versa.

Whatever.

Shiri in the pilot? I must check!
I saw her on 6 degrees (you know how they touted that show, before it tanked). I did not see her in whatever show she is known for (was it the one Katherine Heigl was in? If so, that's amusing!)
I liked her as an intern. I greatly disliked Lena (it's a carryover from Brothers & Sisters - plus the shoes)

And why did they give the asthma kid his epi IV? Would not SubQ have worked? It used to work for me... (you know, till it stopped. but in his case he hadn't had any.) and I would have tried it before tubing him for pete's sake. and it would have been available more likely than the albuterol (which they said was not likely to be in the cart, or room. i think)) Any med professionals around for that question?

I had one more question I've now forgotten, of course.

Pamela Jaye said...

amusingly, this article says Shiri is dating Zach Braff

I just find that funny.

So, if she's 30 now, what was she in 1994? her character seems to have been named Ms. something

of course Frank was in the pilot too, with a different first name but the same last name, i think

Pamela Jaye said...

oh right ENT/Plastics. yeah. I too have Grey's burned into my brain. he said it to Cristina i believe. in the gallery. as they whined that Ortho was just carpentry and holding a heart was much better.
I don't know which ep but it was season 4. When Callie was pretending to be Chief Resident but Bailey was doing her job (which suddenly Bailey has stopped doing).

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys, I totally did not remember Sloane having another specialty besides plastics.

Loved the "Lexipedia" line.

Pamela Jaye said...

nope, one more for ER - since when do nurses get to prescribe meds - much less those pushed into central lines?

jana said...

So did I miss an episode of ER where Sam found Alex? I thought he ran away or something a while back. Do I remember the last scene of an ep. where he was walking on a highway with his back pack and a car pulled over to pick him up? Regardless, I've watched ER from the beginning and I'll stick with it for the end. It's the mind-blowing, stick-with-you episodes like "Love's Labor Lost" that have made this show worthwhile for me.

Pamela Jaye said...

you missed a season or two (i think just two)

Alex ran away to find his father (and forgot to take his insulin with him). He made it all the way to colorado, hitchhiking (before ending up in a hospital in CO). Luka and Sam went after him (think it was Luka. hard to keep track of those four. don't think it was Carter.) Sam let him see his dad in prison (that he hadn't known was in prison). They all came back home.

Later dear old dad was transferred to Illinois prison, then hatched a cunning plan in which he broke out - by way of the ER and a fake nurse and a friend from prison - taking Sam and Alex at gunpoint and leaving a pregnant and bleeding Abby and also Luke chained to a gurney paralyzed with sux or versed or whatever. (oh and Jerry almost died. I think maybe Neela saved him, but maybe it wasn't her. anyway, he survived)
Sam had sex with her ex and then shot him to death while he slept it off. Armand Assante got her off so she didn't go to trial for murder.
Abby had the baby (premature), Luka recovered.
Abby's mom returned to encourage her to be a good mother, before tripping off to be extremely less annoying on Brothers and Sisters).

Later, Alex turned into a big problem child and was hustled off to a special program where he was left, after setting his mother's apartment on fire (with a candle. I think it was an accident, but he was showing signs of turning into a bad seed). And that was the last we'd heard of him till this week.

Now, what happened to Dubenko?

M.Chavez said...

and the other guy likes to rely on his BlackBerry and lies to his wife.

Not to get all persnickety, but the 'other guy' - I coulda sworn I knew that face... and it finally dawned on me. That's Victor Rasuk, from one of my fave super low-budget indies, Raising Victor Vargas. I know he's been around since but I haven't catched him in anything until now. I hope to see some of his potential realized here on ER. I recommend RVV highly!

Anonymous said...

To add to the list of "most cursed place in TV history," I nominate CTU Los Angeles from "24."

jana said...

Thanks, Pamela Jaye. I didn't miss anything. I think I put those couple of seasons out of my head. ER was dangerously close to losing me at that time, but I kept tuning in (weeks later on DVR) in hopes that someone would rescue those rich characters and get back to their hospital lives. Sam Taggert is my least favorite character on the entire series.

Jonathan said...

How many times has ER introduced a new authority figure who comes in and rustles the feathers of everyone in the department only to find out that they really do have a heart of gold or some deep personal problem that makes them sympathetic? I hate myself for continuing to watch this show.

Pamela Jaye said...

jonathan - you should count! it's happened far more, recently.

Thanks, Pamela Jaye. I didn't miss anything. I think I put those couple of seasons out of my head. ER was dangerously close to losing me at that time,

it was close to losing *everyone* that season. oddly, they fixed it, and it came back and didn't get cancelled. thankfully they got rid of LeGuizamo and 3rd Rock girl (and who was that out of touch Emmy presenter last year who referred to 30 Rock as 3rd Rock?)

but I kept tuning in (weeks later on DVR) in hopes that someone would rescue those rich characters and get back to their hospital lives. Sam Taggert is my least favorite character on the entire series.

If I hadn't just thought of LeGuizamo and 3rd Rock nurse I'd totally agree with you.

If we can subset down to Characters Who Stuck Around, then definitely.
btw, why can't they get rid of Aussie relative of Anspaugh jerk?

Sam was like Gee, Abby's not a Nurse and we need a Star Nurse, Nurse. I think they just should have made Heleh famous

Anonymous said...

Why when someone makes a legitimate comment about something one of these characters does wrong medically, do all the others rush in all protectively? Most recent example, Sam & Gates when Angela Bassett's character makes the comment about how Sam overlooked track marks on the junkie. That's a perfectly legitimate criticism and she's lucky she wasn't written up for it.

And if she cares anything about her job or patients, it should be a "hey I did something wrong moment" not defensive and "I'm a bad nurse, I need to be cheered up by my dr. boyfriend moment".

It reminds me of the whole Green/Corday plot when Green started having language problems and Weaver had to remove him from treating patients. Weaver was portrayed as the heavy when she did what any dr. with any regard or concern for patient care would do. Because language and using the right terms aren't important in medicine at all, are they? Green's feelings and his wife's protectiveness of them are far more important than mere patient care!

Pamela Jaye said...

while you're right (and i'm sorry - but nurses shouldn't prescribing meds - especially IJ) it does seem that every new Chief comes in with a You people are a bunch of Incompetent Layabouts and the Ship is going to be Turned Around attitude.

Probably not the best approach.