`Did you watch ER last night?
If you did, you may have been one of many who hadn't seen the show in years. The show, for me, is like an old friend who has, over the years, become an acquaintance you take for granted, merging in and out as your time and interest permits.
So, I watched the finale with kind of the feeling you have when you go to the wake for that old friend, who you feel like you lost touch with over the years. And it left me with kind of the same feeling. Some of the "guests" were people I didn't know, others were familiar faces which had aged over time.
Today's Entertainment Weekly story summed up how I felt about the last episode. The part I liked the best was the usually-dreaded retrospective, which was the first hour:
"Once I started watching the hour-long retrospective that preceded the final episode, however, I was enthralled by more than nostalgia. I was caught up in the artistry of this show, which managed to combine technical grace (all those swooping, single-camera scenes) with equally graceful characterizations. By the end, I was almost as sorry to see minor characters like grumpy desk clerk Frank (Troy Evans) and nurse Haleh Adams (Yvette Freeman) leave the screen as I was major players like Wyle and Stamos."
(Click on the video box (above,left) to watch the retrospective.)
Noah Wylie and John Stamos
I was ready for it to be over after the first hour (in fact I almost turned it off 50 minutes in; those of you who saw it will know what I'm talking about.) So what did you think? Newsday wrote:
"There were some lovely scenes. Ernest Borgnine's character's bathetic farewell to his wife - a classic "ER" conceit, inherited from episodes past, along with the teen-in-trouble, or mother who seems like she's going to give a normal delivery, until something goes horribly wrong. Carter's ( Noah Wyle) absent-minded instructions to a distraught father to use a phone was a wonderful touch, too; it's over there, pal, he directed over his shoulder, with his arms covered in blood while he jotted notations in a book."
I loved that part too. The guy looked stricken, and like he was about to throw up (so was I, actually) and it was such a perfect contrast between the OMG I'm in the ER husband and the All-in-a-Day's-Work doctor.
The comments after that story were thoughtful as well.
"At first I was disappointed..expecting some high-level, climactic drama- death of a key character or something we've come to expect from series finales," writes "SGW, "but then I thought, "this is a breath of fresh air" the fact that ER didn't take the cliche path. It left the same way it came into our lives...just a day in the life of a hospital."
I liked a review in Rick Porter's Zap2it blog:
If the finale didn't have the raw power or energy of the pilot, though, that's partly the fault of "ER's" own success. It pretty well set the template for every medical drama that came after it, and everything it did first -- the fast pace and continuously moving camera, the sometimes graphic nature of the cases, the rivers of medical jargon -- is commonplace now.
Check out the final episode here... but seriously, if you are pregnant or thinking about having a baby (especially twins) skip over the birth scene that comes about 35 minutes in.
I think my favorite ER bit I've read today is on Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch. It reminded me how long the show has been around. (AND before we ever were a part of it: Michael Crichton wrote the original screenplay in 1974)
"On the night of NBC's Thursday fall premieres, my roommates and I hiked down to a now-defunct electronics chain called Nobody Beats the Wiz! and bought a new television.
It had an irresponsibly enormous 14" screen. We plugged it in next to the ham and spread out on the compost-brown shag carpet to watch Mad About You, some crappy new sitcom about a bunch of New Yorkers who hung out in a coffee shop, and Seinfeld, which was then in the prime of its life.
We probably used the Dabney Coleman show as a smoke break. And then it was time for the main event: This fancy new medical drama the network had been touting, from the guy who wrote Jurassic Park. I loved that movie. I don't remember much about ER's first real episode, except that it was bloody, impossibly fast-paced, and I hoped the nice nurse would find her will to live, so she could hook up with the cute doctor."
Well, she did, and they even have two kids now! But don't look for Doug and Carol in the finale. Clooney ... and now the rest of the cast of thousands over the years ... has left the building.