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?