E.R. Series Finale
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I remember where I was the first time I ever watched the television series known as E.R.. I was sitting in my friend’s parents’ house. They had decided that they wanted to watch this much hyped show from Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg about E.R. doctors and their lives inside and outside a hospital emergency room. I remember my first impression of the show as being – Damn, that’s gory! Wow, they sure are realistic when it comes to this stuff. I’ve been watching the show ever since, missing a few episodes here and there, but catching up mostly in repeats found weekdays on TNT. Now, after fifteen years, one of the longest running dramas has come to its end. On April 2, 2009, at 8PM EST, a three hour special announced the end of a television era and here I was seated directly in front of the television set, not wanting to miss a single part of the finale.
The first hour of this special E.R. event featured interviews with cast members, present and past, and producers of the show. They talked about how the series started and how none of them could predict the impact it would have on the television audience. They talked about episodes that were special to them and what they believed made the show so special to its viewers over the years. We were treated to numerous scenes from different seasons of E.R. – comedic, sad, hectic, character defining and the like. I found myself responding to the different scenes with exclamations like, “I remember that episode!” or “That’s when such and such happens to so and so.” It was like a trip down memory lane, seeing past cast members like Noah Wylie, Anthony Edwards, Julianna Marguilies, Laura Innis, Alex Kingston, Sherry Stringfield, William H. Macy, Paul McCrane and many more.
The next two hours consisted of the final episode entitled And in the End. In this series finale, we come full circle. If you remember the very first episode of E.R., Dr. Carter (Noah Wylie) a brand new intern who comes to County General just as a huge trauma comes through the door. After his harrowing day in the E.R., he wonders if he can actually continue on this path he has chosen as he unceremoniously pukes his guts up in the ambulance bay. It’s Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) who delivers the pep talk that lifts Carter’s spirits and ensures him that he has chosen the right profession. Now, 15 years later, it’s a different doctor delivering the pep talk to a brand new intern, but the spirit behind the pep talk is the same. There are many moments within the series finale that will act as déjà vu moments for faithful E.R. watchers – an intern going elbow deep into a cavity and riding the gurney to the O.R. ala Dr. Benton (Eriq LaSalle), Lydia the Nurse waking up a reluctant sleeping intern, the intern speech to a likable patient about his terminal cancer, and the list goes on. It seems fitting that some events be repeated in a similar yet slightly different way to pay homage to all of the defining moments in characters’ lives throughout the series.
Some of the older cast members took part in this finale, coming to Dr. Carter’s opening of a special wing of County Hospital, named after his deceased son, that will offer help to the poor and homeless members of the community receive the benefits of healthcare, childcare and more. Present for the opening are Dr. Carter’s dearest friends, Dr. Corday, Dr. Lewis, and Dr. Benton and his son are all present. Also present is Dr. Greene’s daughter, Rachel, who is planning on becoming a med student and is hoping to land an E.R. internship at County General. History repeats itself as Carter brings Rachel back to the E.R. just in time to witness a major trauma come through the door…“Dr. Greene, are you coming?”
I found the series finale of E.R. to be perfectly fitting. Yes, there are some open ends, but those loose ends are inconsequential considering that all of the major storylines have been tied up. I have been so disappointed with series finales in the past – open-yours-to-interpret endings, fantasy/dream endings (anyone remember St. Elsewhere’s finale?) and flat, why bother endings – that I was actually worried about this series finale. However, in my opinion, the finale of E.R….coming full circle as it did…did the series justice. Bravo to the cast and crew of E.R. for a job well-done and a series that will stand the test of time as one of the most dramatic and captivating long-lived series ever to appear on network television!