I’m usually the type of feller that, when given the opportunity of viewing a fictional medical television series, will almost always choose my anti-hero House or the carefree and whimsical Scrubs over more serious shows such as ER. That isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy medical dramas; I simply prefer the less-serious side of medicine. Now, if I’m in the mood for seeing someone using a stethoscope in a stern and somber manner, I will definitely pick ER over the slightly-blusterous charms of a show like, oh…say, Grey’s Anatomy.
And I’m obviously not the only person to have felt this way. How else can you explain how ER kept audiences glued to their screens for fifteen years — even with constant cast changes? ‘Tis not an easy task, kids. Why, Scrubs tried it one time (and one time only) — to wit the series shut down entirely. Even House lost a few of his fellows when he hired on his new crew; and as for Grey’s Anatomy…well, OK, I admit it: I never watch that show.
In any case, the news here is that for those of you who concur with my stance on medical television shows, you’ll be delighted to know that ER: The Complete Fourteenth Season is now available on DVD courtesy the folks at Warner Home Video. While this season may not be as “Stop the world! ER is on!” worthy as several others may have been (there was a Writer’s Strike during this season), the writing here will still manage to keep fans and newbies alike interested with all of the onscreen shenanigans. For starters, the usually-cool-calm-and-collected Abby (Maura Tierney) starts to hit the sauce. The new ER doctor (the great Stanley Tucci) really doesn’t make friends very fast. That red-headed guy’s lady leaves him and his dad dies. And then there’s John Stamos, who’s just happy to be out of that Full House more than anything.
Blah, blah, blah: ER is a primetime soap if I ever saw one, but nevertheless, it’s an entertaining series (even the weaker seasons). Plus, there are some notable guest stars here: Howard Hesseman (as a spaced-out hippie doctor), Peter Fonda (who gets to claim “I was the special guest star for the 300th episode of ER, yo!”), Hal Holbrook and Steve Buscemi (who gets a whole riveting season finale to himself as a drunken patient).
On DVD, the 5-disc set presents all 19-episodes in anamorphic 1.78:1 widescreen. The transfer is a nice one indeed, with strong colors, black levels, and contrast all-around. Audio-wise, ER: The Complete Fourteenth Season only boasts a Dolby Surround Stereo soundtrack, but it comes through rather well just the same. Subtitles are available in English (SDH) and French. Special Features for this season include a number of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and the featurette “ER At 300,” which goes behind the scenes of the show’s 300th episode.
In short: ER: The Complete Fourteenth Season is a fine way to get your weekly dose of primetime drama all at once (if you prefer).