Written by Hombre Divertido
On July 14th Warner Home Video released Season Eleven of this immensely popular series ER, and though it marks the last for popular regulars Ming Na as Dr. Jing Mei “Deb” Chen, Alex Kingston as Dr. Elizabeth Corday, Sherry Stringfield as Dr. Susan Lewis, and Noah Wylie as Dr. John Carter, their respective exits were anticlimactic at best, if even acknowledged at all. This season certainly represented a changing of the guard, unfortunately, with writing that took a step down from Season Ten, and one-dimensional performances, said guard-changing came a season too late.
Season Eleven was one of conflict. Some in the relationships within the show, but more so in the factions that existed within the cast and writers. Attempts to write stories for the cast members that had been with the show longer yielded poor results, and simply not enough storylines were given to burgeoning stars such as Shane West as Dr. Ray Barnett and Scott Grimes as Dr. Archie Morris. The performance of Grimes on ER would prove to be under-appreciated throughout his tenure on the show, as he brought a comedic element to the show worthy of The Office (US), long before it was a hit.
In Season Twelve, the writers would set things right as more storylines are dedicated to the people the fans want to see, and storylines such as the relationship between Luka (Goran Visnjic) and Sam (Linda Cardellini) are done away with in favor of those less annoying such as Luka and Abby (Maura Tierney). Nonetheless, much awkwardness is endured throughout this season.
Quality guest appearances are also few and far between here, and though Ray Liotta garnered an Emmy for his performance in “Time of Death,” it was the writing and directing that was worthy of awards more than the limited performance of Liotta. Legendary actor Red Buttons gives a superior performance as Jules “Ruby” Rubadoux, the husband of a former patient of a young Dr. Carter. He is now in the ER as a patient and wants nothing to do with the doctor that he believes killed his wife. Cynthia Nixon gives a fine performance as a stroke victim in “Alone in a Crowd.” The writing in is reminiscent and as innovative as an episode of M*A*S*H. We are also introduced to Charlie Pratt (Danny Glover), father of ER doctor Greg Pratt. Like much of the cast, Glover would have more opportunities to truly display his acting chops in Season Twelve.
Not much to be said of the performances of the regular cast member, though Maura Tierney gives a credible performance when she is kidnapped in “Skin,” which would have made a far superior season finale than “The Show Must Go On” in which we are left wondering what will become of Sam’s runaway son Alex (Oliver Davis).
Where as previous releases have included gag reels as part of the bonus material, Season Eleven only provides outpatient outtakes and unaired scenes, the majority of which were justifiably left on the cutting room floor.
Recommendation: Season Eleven simply as not as good as Season Nine or Twelve. There is probably enough here for the true fan, but little for those not truly hooked. Better that you check out of the ER for a year rather than checking out this season.