If you have seen “House” or “Grey’s Anatomy,” you have felt the influence of “ER,” whether you knew it or not. With a staggering fifteen seasons, making it the longest running medical drama of all time, this show is now officially over. All those Thursday nights waiting for 10 p.m. are gone. The show ended April 2, and its last episode brought back many memories of the old days of the medical drama in the entertainment business.
Now that one of the greatest and longest hospital dramas has ended, we wonder if the other shows can fill its long list of accomplishments. “ER” was the ultimate show to watch when you were having a bad day because no matter how bad your day was, it was always worse for the doctors of County General. And no matter how happy you were, the show would make you burst into tears. Since the beginning, “ER” has touched us in a way no other medical drama has with touching story lines and realistic characters.
The Emmy Award-winning show first aired in September, 1994, and kept its Thursday night slot for all fifteen seasons. It was created by Michael Crichton, who died earlier this year. Most of the original cast returned for appearances during season 15, including Noah Wyle, George Clooney, Eriq La Salle, Alex Kingston, Shane West and Sherry Stringfield. And if you were there from the beginning, you were just as excited as I was watching the old cast return. The fifteenth season included some of the original cast of “ER” but new characters were also introduced.
Although “ER’s” television ratings have decreased since the beginning years of the show, the last season overall was dramatic and touching. Dr. Gregory Pratt, Mekhi Phifer’s character, departed in the first episode of the last season with an unexpected death in the story line that shocked audiences. John Stamos, Scott Grimes, Linda Cardellini, Parminder Nagra, and other members of the cast performed their last “ER” season with great nostalgia and excitement.
The last episode’s storyline tied up loose ends of character relationships and showing what the old doctors are now doing after leaving County General. Preceding the finale was the retrospective special episode interviewing most of the “ER” cast including the producer, John Wells, and Steven Spielberg. The special episode also included highlights in the show and revealed the actors on set. Although I wish it was an actual two-hour finale, the retrospective was appreciated.
The finale was supposedly a montage of the pilot episode of ER. Although the episode ended as just another day in the ER, the ending fit the idea of a doctor’s job very well. The 24/7 cycle of emergency care forges onward at the end of the landmark series. Alexis Bledel from “Gilmore Girls, and Ernest Borgnine from “From Here to Eternity” guest starred on the final episode. The release on DVD of the 15th season is still yet to be announced.
With a huge cast, melodramatic music and touching storylines that involve saving people, you can’t help but tear up at the end. “ER” was NBC’s longest running drama and received 123 Emmy nominations over the years. And it was really the first show to have such a deep character background involving the doctors. The theme of the show has remained true for all its season and that contributed to most of its success and highest television rankings in its prime years.
Although many medical dramas have now replaced the ER, it will be remembered as the greatest doctor show throughout history. The sounds of Chicago’s County General have now been silenced and there will no longer be IV’s and heart monitors. ER was the prime of the medical drama era and we can only wish for more shows with such intensity. The show “South Land,” which was also produced by John Wells, is now taking ER’s time slot…It has big shoes to fill.