An Ode to ER

The NBC drama ER is ending this week. It will be missed. While many people stopped worrying what shows were aired on what network at what time, I have yet to join the TiVo/DVR time-shifting crowd and don’t have much time to catch missed episodes on Hulu. For me, Thursday at 10:00 pm, if I was home, was ER night. What made the show great was its writing and plot, the credit of which should go to the late Michael Crichton, one of the show’s creators, writers and a doctor himself. Admittedly, I only really got into the show starting in 2004, long after what some describe as the glory days of ER and the launch pad for actors such as George Clooney and others. My ER, however, consisted of Abby, Luca, Sam, Dr. Gates, Dr. Greg Pratt and, of course, Neela.

Being married to a doctor, I learned years ago that I have very little interest in medicine, but I enjoyed that I could ask her questions regarding acronyms or accuracy when watching the show together. In fact, it was one of the few shows I could get her to watch with me at all, as she generally hates anything on television. I enjoyed ER not because I care specifically about medicine, but because it was smart. Like The West Wing, it assumed a certain level of education and knowledge on behalf of its audience and didn’t dumb down the show for anybody. The issues ER dealt with were real and the characters were representative of those you would discover in this country. They suffered through hard times, rejoiced in the happy moments and trekked through everything in between. I remember on more than one occasion watching the ending of the show, music fitting to the scene playing in the background, characters struggling, contemplating, grieving or celebrating, and actually felt emotions. That’s how real the show was – it actually caused emotions to stir within the viewer, a rare feat among current network television in this country. Fans of the past fifteen years may claim that ER jumped the shark years ago, but in my mind, it was one of the dramas truly worth watching. Thank you ER for a great fifteen seasons.

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