Set in the Emergency Room at Chicago's County General Hospital, ER is a gritty, heart-pounding glimpse of how brisk decisions can save lives -and how one mistake can prove fatal. The show launched George Clooney's career and featured a stellar cast that included Julianna Margulies, Laura Innes, Anthony Edwards, Eriq La Salle, Noah Wyle, Sherry Stringfield, and others throughout the series' run. The combination of absorbing plot lines, compelling characters, top-notch performances, and realistic depictions of life in the ER attracted millions of fans each week. The eleventh season features more pulse-pounding medical incidents as well as significant lineup changes: long-time regular, Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle), decides to leave County General, and a new doctor, Ray Barnett (Shane West), enters it.
Season eleven opens with Pratt (Mekhi Phifer), Chen (Ming-Na), and Elgin (James Earl) being rescued after barely escaping a crash into the Chicago river (well...except for Elgin); two new interns, most notably, Dr. Ray Barnett (West), entering County General; and the once-nurse Abby beginning her career as a doctor. Much like past seasons, each episode features a collection of primarily episodic plot lines that revolve around each of the show's main characters.
Sadly, many of the episodes don't seem to have the kind of power and passion behind them that previous ones did, but, by far, "Time of Death" is the standout episode for the season. Unlike the traditional ER pattern, it consists of just one plot line with no side stories that takes place in real-time, chronicling the final 43 minutes of Charlie Metcalf's (Ray Liotta) life. Liotta plays an alcoholic on death's door who attempts to make amends with his son. His performance, which won a well-deserved Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, makes this episode come alive, sticking with viewers long after it's finished.
Other guest stars this season include Red Buttons, Danny Glover, Cynthia Nixon, Francis Fisher, Sharif Atkins, and others.
The rest of the cast does a phenomenal job with the material they are given. However, the biggest loss of the season is the end of Wyle's tenure as Dr. Carter. He will certainly be missed in future seasons of ER (even though he does make the occasional guest appearance).