Written by Hombre Divertido
It’s rare that the jumping of the shark in a television series can be spotted so easily, but there it is in all its gory glory in the first episode (“Chaos Theory”) of season nine of ER. The proverbial shark in this case turned out to be the rotor blade of a helicopter that famed surgeon Dr. Robert “Rocket” Romano (Paul McCrane) manages to walk into resulting in the amputation of his arm. This shockingly graphic plot twist would eventually lead to the ruining of one of the greatest antagonists on television. Though attempts would be made in future years to introduce similar characters, none have been as well acted or appreciated.
Season nine also marks the first full season without the stabilizing force of the now deceased Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards). That absence is felt throughout the season, as other leaders such as Dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle) and Dr. Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes) attempt to be a calming force in the ER. No help is given by other characters such as Luka Kovac who spends most of the season going from one bed and problem to another or Abby Lockhart RN (Maura Tierney) who spends a substantial amount of time dealing with her family and her relationships.
The family issues of Abby do allow for all-star gust appearances by Sally Field as her mother and Tom Everett Scott as her brother. Unfortunately the characters are one-dimensional, and the writing allows for little range by these talented actors.
The success of ER was built on the stories revolving around the patients coming into the hospital. After a trend that began years earlier, the ER storylines really hit a low point in season nine as the focus is solely on the lives of the doctors and little screen time is spent on the stories of the patients.