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ER - Complete Season 10

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

WITH Season 10 of the American medical drama ER now available on DVD, it’s time once again for a trip down memory lane.

The season opens with Carter (Noah Wyle) back from Africa – though not for long. Following news of Luka’s death in the Congo, Carter goes back to search for his body (The Lost). Fortunately (and I’m sure I speak for fans everywhere who would be deeply saddened by Goran Visnjic’s departure from the series) Luka is found – alive but desperately ill with malaria.

It’s an episode that relies heavily on flashbacks but they work well, telling as they do of Luka’s time in the Congo following Carter’s departure 22 days earlier. As a matter of interest, The Lost and Season 9’s finale Kisangani were filmed simultaneously, with Hawaii (Oahu) doubling for the Congo. And if you think the burnt out buildings look vaguely familiar it’s because you may well have seen them in the Bruce Willis vehicle Tears of the Sun.

But this isn’t the last we see of Africa. Die-hard fans of ER will no doubt remember that, after rescuing Luka, Carter stays in the country and in Episode 10 (Makemba), we discover just what he’s been doing. It involves Makemba ‘Kem’ Likasu (Thandie Newton), an AIDS clinic worker who is six weeks pregnant with his child – so not all work and no play then!

When the two eventually move to Chicago, Kem somehow manages to annoy a great many people at County General (Get Carter) – and if I’m honest, yours truly as well. However, the scenes following the birth of their stillborn son (Midnight) are deeply moving and convincingly acted by both Wyle and Newton.

It’s in Season 10 that Romano’s (Paul McCrane) storyline concludes – shockingly, as it turns out, when he becomes the victim of a helicopter crash (Freefall). There’s a certain irony here as it was the tail rotor of a helicopter that severed his arm so dramatically in Season 9. McCrane’s performance as a man tortured by his disability has been superb throughout and I have to admit, I’ve missed Romano’s outrageous and egotistical posturing since his untimely departure.

New characters include Neela Rasgotra (Parminder Nagra), a new med student who first appears in the season premiere Now What?; Archie Morris (Scott Grimes), a fellow student; and Sam Taggart (Linda Cardellini), a nurse who replaces Abby (Maura Tierney) who, in turn, is back in med school. Although Sam is introduced in Out of Africa, it’s in the following episode (The Greater Good) that we meet her son Alex (played initially by Oliver Davis and more recently, by Dominic Janes). And right from the start, you just know he’s trouble!

But it’s Sam who becomes Luka’s latest ‘conquest’, leaving Abby, who was once the pivotal point of romantic triangle, all alone. And although she perhaps received her just deserts where Carter and Kovac were concerned, a ‘Dear John’ letter from an absent Carter was unkind to say the least – particularly as it was discovered by Frank who made its contents public property (Dear Abby).

As well as Romano, lesbian fire-fighter Sandy Lopez (Lisa Vidal) also dies (Where There’s Smoke), leaving Weaver (Laura Innes) to face a custody battle for their young son Henry who was born earlier in the season. And in the same episode, Gallant (Sharif Atkins), now devoted to Neela, makes his final appearance as a main cast character before facing army duties in Iraq.

And finally, look out for a guest appearance by comedian Bob Newhart. In a rare dramatic role and one that earned him a 2004 Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, he plays Ben Hollander, an elderly architect who attempts suicide because he’s going blind. It’s an absorbing three-episode story arc that also involves Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield).

There is, of course, much more to Season 10, including a surprising season finale involving Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) and Chen (Ming-Na). But on that I’ll say no more. My final word though – unmissable!