Thursday, April 02, 2009

ER: Some of the best (and worst) moments

After yesterday's longer "ER" retrospective, in today's column, I look back at some great (and not-so-great) moments in "ER" history (with YouTube links where available). Hat-tip both to you guys and the people at Throwing Things for all your suggestions.

Don't know if I'll be watching the finale live, but I'll definitely have a review post up tomorrow morning at the latest. Please save any comments on the episode until that goes up, but feel free to continue looking back now.

29 comments:

Lewis said...

Come on, if we were changing "jumping the shark" all the time; "falling under the helicopter" would now be "sexing the ghost", no?

Alf said...

Thanks for linking to clips, Alan. I've watched since 1994 but haven't seen many episodes more than once.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Come on, if we were changing "jumping the shark" all the time; "falling under the helicopter" would now be "sexing the ghost", no?

Assuming people were willing to let go of "nuking the fridge" so soon, sure. But at the time "Freefall" aired, it would have been "falling under the helicopter."

Anonymous said...

*whew*
That column brought back a lot of memories...I can't believe I was 13 when it all started...watching every week with my mom, and then later bonding with other freshmen over the show in the common room...

good times.

Adam said...

September 1994 was my first year of law school in Chicago; yeah, we were addicted to the show from the start. We'd all watch it in the lounge area of the grad dorm from 9p-10p and head out en masse drinking thereafter.

Thank you for the Romano clip. Yeah, it's as bad as I remember.

Norgard said...

"The fling between surgeons Peter Benton and Elizabeth Corday ended prematurely because Eriq La Salle was uncomfortable with the racial implications of the storyline"

Eh... what? Can you please elaborate?

"Benton (who rode Gant so badly that suicide was plausible) thinks he's operating on a John Doe, angrily demands someone page Gant, and all of a sudden a beeper goes off on the patient's belt."

What still chills me is that moment after the beeper goes off, when everybody looks at Gant's face and it's so messed up even knowing it's him you still can't recognise him. It's probably just an unintentional outcome of the injury make-up, but I think it also nicely underscores how nobody got how desperate Gant really was.

Word verification: "hippingu", the genetically engineered cross between hippopotamus and flamingo.

Pale Writer said...

I know we've talked about how overdone his death was, but the Gant video's related clips was Mark Greene's last shift.

I am sobbing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Eh... what? Can you please elaborate?

La Salle said he felt that, since there were so few strong African-American characters on television, and even fewer African-American couples, that it sent the wrong message to pair Benton off with a white woman.

So the producers reluctantly split them up, and both wound up in far less interesting relationships (Peter with Cleo, and Elizabeth as the future Widow Greene).

Alan Sepinwall said...

I know we've talked about how overdone his death was, but the Gant video's related clips was Mark Greene's last shift.

I linked to that one, too -- and to Carter reading the letter -- while griping about Mark's death.

I've said it before and will say it again and again: if Anthony Edwards' last episode is "Orion in the Sky," and if we only found out about Mark's death in "The Letter" and didn't have to watch it, we would all look back much more fondly on that story arc. It was still too damn long and merciless, but those two episodes were terrific.

Adam said...

La Salle said he felt that, since there were so few strong African-American characters on television, and even fewer African-American couples, that it sent the wrong message to pair Benton off with a white woman.

Moreover, IIRC, he thought it was wrong that after having tumultuous relationships with Carla and Jeanie, that he could only find calm and happiness with a white woman.

Still, Benton + Corday gave us Benton as Shaft, so it's not all bad.

andythesaint said...

Great article, including many of my favourite momemnts.

Nitpicking time:
Carter was actually an intern when he took over in "Exodus", and not yet a resident (he had to repeat his internship when he switched specialities).

wjm said...

I've never seen "Love's Labor Lost" and have been meaning to. This article just reinforces that.

Writing/plot issues (and bats) aside, this has consistently been the most emotional show I've ever seen. I'll never forget my two favorite guest stars: Patrick Fugit dying of prostate cancer at 15, and Shawn Hatosy as Dr. Morris' patient with DID. Those two were heartbreakers, complete with damn fine acting.

Adam said...

LLL reairs next Tuesday on TNT.

Pamela Jaye said...

Andy's right. Carter, somewhat like Dr Corday, was an intern again.

one other thing
and while Carter turns out okay, Lucy has the agonizing moment where she regains consciousness, seems to be doing okay and, as she began to crash, self-diagnoses the problem and realizes there's no way to fix it.

just last night, watching the pilot, I saw Mark remove a PE - so it's not really one of the unfixable things, by default (though perhaps there was some reason it was, in this case) - unlike Michael Rappaport, and CutThroat Bitch (and she *knew* it was terminal) and possibly Pratt (I'm not sure whether there was a way out of his injury or not - anyone?)

I know a PE is serious, and Lucy did too (and Alan Birch (on CH) probably did as well, I really don't remember - it's such a bitch when you've finally saved them and then they throw a clot) but it isn't always the end.

(what's nuking the fridge?)

Anonymous said...

"and while Carter turns out okay, Lucy has the agonizing moment where she regains consciousness"


The moments I can never forget involve Romano and Weaver. Romano shows a very touching moment of humanity in his frustration at her death. And I still get choked up remembering the moment in the morgue where Weaver lovingly sews up Lucy's corpse.

I HATED the character of Lucy and joke often about my love for the events of those episodes, but in truth, that ending chokes me up every damn time.

Laura Innes was my favorite part of that show... she is an amazing actress and did wonderful things with a character who was often written very one-note. I miss her.

Pamela Jaye said...

Lucy showed up on Romano's doorstep - as a med stuent - didn't she, to get him to come in at Christmas for her transplant patient (who died anyway)?
And Lucy had asked Kerry to mentor her, before she became ER chief and couldn't.

M.A.Peel said...

Alan, it will be sad if you don't watch the finale in real time with us.

For any literary types, I have some thoughts about ER ending and the loss of John Updike. Both are an end to cultural eras we won't see again.

http://mapeel.blogspot.com/

Norgard said...

"Moreover, IIRC, [La Salle] thought it was wrong that after having tumultuous relationships with Carla and Jeanie, that he could only find calm and happiness with a white woman."

If that was his point of contention, I can at least see where he's coming from, even if it's still a shame. If he'd just waited, the law of TV would have made his relationship with Corday plenty tumultous anyway.

Word Verification: "ungst". There's a punchline in there somewhere, but I can't find it.

BF said...

(what's nuking the fridge?)

Watch the 1st 15 minutes of "Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". Or better yet, don't.

wjm said...

Thanks, Adam! I'll put that on the list.

I always liked Kerry too. My DH can't stand her, but I found her an intriguing character, and Laura Innes did a fab job of playing her.

Redsmom said...

As far as road shows of ER, I remember, before they started going to Africa, when Benton went to Mississippi and had to protect the white girl with the bi-racial baby from her father. That was classic Peter Benton.

Pamela Jaye said...

watching a rerun last night I was reminded that Deb Chen had a photographic memory (and a haircut like Lexipedia's at the time, as well)

only one letter sort. my captcha - tedius

Lizbeth said...

I agree the Mark Greene dying in Hawaii episode seemed completely out of place and was too far out of the ER.

But ironically that's also what I liked about that episode. Dr. Greene had seen so many people die traumatically in the ER that he chose something completely different for himself. He chose to go quietly, in peace, surrounded by the people he loved, at the beach without the use of machines or modern medicine or any of what he himself was trained to do.

And there was something poetic in that. Even if it also verged on maudlin overkill.

A-T-G said...

Thanks Alan, for the great links! I stopped watching the show awhile ago and started back up again (thanks to you!), just in time to watch it all end.

As for Dr. Greene's lingering death - looking back, I roll my eyes at it's maudlin blatant manipulation - but, at the time...I loved that character so much, that I was delighted to spend an entire episode with him...and weeping that I wouldn't get to see him again.

Nothing can explain the ridiculous death of "Rocket" Romano. Except that somehow, the writers came to loathe that man and decided that his end would be spectacularly bad.

Undercover Black Man said...

No love for the live ep.? (Season 4 premiere?) It was such a big deal at the time.

Jim said...

What's wrong with me that I thought Romano dying under the helicopter was a great moment of dark humor, fitting for the character and up there with Rosalind Shays going down the elevator shaft?

I'm glad a couple other people mentioned Laura Innes/Kerry Weaver. I always thought she/they were under-rated, especially in the first few seasons. It pissed me off at first that they made her a lesbian ("the tough, smart, independent woman must be gay", but even moreso that a tough, smart woman like Kerry would be repressed), but once they got through the transition I thought it was well done.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sorry, UBM. I know you were proud of it, but, like I wrote yesterday, I always felt like "Ambush" exposed just how much of the experience of watching "ER" depended on those great production values.

Pamela Jaye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamela Jaye said...

I removed my post, on the off-chance that anyone might figure out what I meant by it