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ER: Season 12 - Review

ER: Season 12

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

ANYONE who thinks ER has lost its ability to shock or is long since past its prime had best take a look at Season 12 of this seminal series and think again.

The long-running medical drama still has what it takes to be considered one of the very best programmes on TV – better, even, than the pretenders to its medical crown, such as Grey’s Anatomy.

The personnel may have changed but the calibre of storylines remained top-class, while the various guest stars – both long and short term – provided positive proof of the show’s ability to still be able to attract the very best names in the business.

Season 12 was notable for featuring the extended stay of John Leguizamo as the volatile, yet highly charismatic, Dr Victor Clemente, whose wayward attitude to his position brought him into direct conflict with the man he’d pipped to the top post – Luka (Goran Visnjic).

Leguizamo was a livewire presence – a cavalier doctor whose risk-taking belied a caring, troubled soul. He may have been a brash, confident go-getter, but there was an underlying tragedy to his story arc that was brilliantly portrayed (as only the best ER guests no how).

Further memorable guest spots came from Oscar-nominated Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who was truly heartbreaking as a Turkish mother whose daughter is brought to the ER close to death following a knife attack; and – most memorably – by Emmy-winner James Woods as Dr Nate Lennox, a former professor of biochemistry with ALS who was Abby’s early medical school mentor. The episode in question, Body & Soul, offered Woods an acting masterclass that was utterly riveting (and reminiscent of Ray Liotta’s work in an earlier season).

Long-term ER fans also had their loyalty rewarded with the return of Noah Wyle’s Dr Carter, who was joined in Darfur by Dr Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) for a series of encounters. It was a nice touch from both the creators and the actor himself to contine their involvement with each other.

On a day-to-day basis, Season 12 of ER continued to juggle the provocative storylines with the slightly comedic – so that Christmas episodes involving Luka as Santa offered a nice reprieve from some of the weightier storylines and personal issues confronting the main characters.

In true ER style, however, the best was saved to last – and the final episode 21 Guns succeeded in delivering a real humdinger of a cliffhanger finale.

Set to Snow Patrol’s Open Your Eyes, the episode culminated in a massive gunfight as two prisoners intent on escape and a hidden conspirator left both Luka and Abbey Lockhart (Maura Tierney) fighting for their lives… as well as Nurse Sam Taggart (Linda Cardellini) taken hostage.

It was the kind of ending that sent shivers down the spine because of the many implications it threw up… and rivalled the best jaw-dropping moments that earlier episodes of the series had to offer.

What’s more, it delivered them in a way that genuinely made you care… unlike some of the bigger episodes of shows such as Grey’s Anatomy.

All in all, then, a masterclass in entertainment that left you laughing, crying, thinking about the issues it raised and – in the case of that last episode – literally gasping for breath! Don’t miss.

Certificate: 15
No. of discs: 3
UK DVD Release: September 15, 2008