I have been a fan of ER on and off since the first season in 1994. The episodes have been dramatic, emotional, and relevant. The television show reflects the patients who come through the emergency room doors, the doctors make who make critical, life-determining decisions in the emergency room, and the personal lives surrounding both the hospital staff and the patients.
The 15th season is no exception. Even if you’ve never watched an episode before, you can watch any of the 22 episodes from this season, and you will be mesmerized. I really liked watching the episodes commercial-free, and I suspect you will too. One of my favorite moments was when white-haired Charlotte Rae, of Facts of Life fame, frantically tries to get the attention of Dr. Sanchez to let him know that she gave him pot brownies by accident! Too funny! But a dramatic scene was watching Dr. Catherine Banfield, played by Angela Bassett, relive the death of her five-year old son while treating another child in the emergency room.
As usual, I stayed on the edge of my seat for most of the episodes. The topics were current with what was going on in the news at the time, although the creators and writers treated the issues a bit differently than the way they played out in the news. The acting was wonderful and you’ll easily see why this show stayed on television for 15 years.
My favorite episode was the last one. It is two hours and included many old cast members, including Dr. Mark Greene’s daughter, Rachel, actor Noah Wyle as Dr. John Carter who appeared the more ER episodes than any other actor, Eric La Salle as Dr. Peter Benton, and Laura Innes as Dr. Kerry Weaver, the physically disabled and verbally caustic doctor.
Although this episode did not wrap up any remaining loose ends in the lives of the characters, it did answer a few “Where are they now?” questions about characters from previous seasons. Some of the storylines in the last show included an elderly couple of which one was dying, who had known each other for 72 years, and a couple who hosted a drinking party for their tweenage daughter and her friends, to avoid them drinking “in the streets,” and who is now responsible for one of the girls who fell into a coma after overdosing on alcohol. For the older couple, it is a quick glimpse into the end of a partner’s life for a person who has spent the better part of 83 years together, and the emotions that come with it. For the girl in a coma, it shows just how poor decisions with good intentions can affect other people’s lives. For the emergency room doctors, while they do all the doctoring they can, they can’t save everyone – but they can control the amount of compassion they have for the lives they touch in their emergency room.
There was one character in particular I had a hard time watching this season. Although I’ve been a fan for years of actress Angela Bassett who plays Dr. Catherine Banfield, I was uncomfortable with her character from the moment she showed up in the second episode of the 15th season. She’s not only abrasive, but she’s just downright mean. However, I just didn’t feel as if Angela Bassett ever got comfortable in her role – it was if she was trying to be tough, but had a hard time getting into the role. Overall, I just didn’t like her acting on this television show. It was forced, not natural, and downright uncomfortable to watch.
The 5-disc DVD set includes special features like “Outpatient Outtakes: Unaired Scenes” and “Previously on ER,” a retrospective featurette. The Featurette is an hour long show which actually preceded the season finale on television in 2009.
I’m sad to see the end of the characters at County General. I’ll watch these episodes over and over again. While the patient stories were interesting, what really captured my attention is the people who work together in the emergency room: the people who come and go, and the people who remain.