Back in 1990’s, television options were less plentiful than they are today. We didn’t have DVR and the networks didn’t replay the same show several times throughout the week like they do now. You planned your evenings around certain shows. One of those that my family scheduled around was “ER.”
On Christmas Day, I pulled out Season One on DVD and began rewatching this classic medical drama. The long tracking shots, the dramatic shift in tone accompanied by the appropriate music – they have been copied and parodied since but when the show debuted, it was new and fresh.
The cast was centered by Anthony Edwards as Dr. Green. In the pilot, he was considering a move out of the ER into a more prestigious and profitable career in private practice. But this character wouldn’t have enjoyed that work; he thrived admits the chaos and pace of the ER. Plus, he would have been repulsed by the clientele and the hobnobbing required. Instead, he stayed on as the head of the ER and served as the show’s moral center until many seasons later when he left the show in one of the most bittersweet goodbyes in network television history. His closest confidant and platonic friend, Dr. Susan Lewis, was played by the underrated Sherry Stringfield.
George Clooney starred as Dr. Ross, a playboy pediatrician, who was in love with Julianna Margulies’ (“The Good Wife) character, nurse Carol Hathaway. Eriq LaSalle was the caustic and cocky Dr. Benton, a surgical resident, and Noah Wyle was John Carter, his student. Other notable cast members in the first season were the chief, Dr. Morgenstern, played by film actor William H. Macy. Later seasons saw the addition of Maria Bello, Mekhi Phifer, Maura Tierny, Sally Field, and John Stamos. The most interesting characters throughout the show may have been Laura Innes’ Dr. Carrie Weaver and Paul McCrane’s delightfully devilish Dr. Romano.
If we were to list all the famous people who had cameos, this would become more than a blog post. However, some of the bigger names to appear were stars like Tobin Bell, Rosemary Clooney, Bobcat Goldthwait, Robert Carradine, Bradley Whitfield, Ving Rhames, and Khandi Alexander. And that’s just in the first season!
There were long ranging story arcs and shows that wrapped up in each episode. There were lighthearted moments and many tragic ones but the acting was always consistent and the production value top notch. All seasons of “ER” are available on DVD and if you’ve not seen this television classic, do yourself a favor and check it out. Its one of my favorite things!