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ER: Season 5 review

George Clooney says farewell in ER Season 5

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE fifth season of ER marked a landmark in the series – the departure of one of its best loved doctors, Doug Ross (George Clooney).

Having made a name for himself on the medical series, Clooney decided to depart to further his career in movies – a decision that has reaped rich rewards given his standing as both actor, director and producer within the industry today.

Yet true to nice-guy form, he did honour his ER contract and left the show on a high following one of its typically emotional story arcs.

Doug’s departure was the culmination of five years of bad-boy antics, during which he regularly flirted with authority.

His exit came as little surprise to anyone, although his decision to quit the show prompted many to speculate whether it was capable of surviving without one of its biggest assets.

The answer has proved a resounding ‘yes’, for ER continues to be one of the most watched, best-loved and consistently compelling medical dramas on TV.

The story surrounding Doug’s departure stemmed from the doctor’s decision to break a double blind study by giving a sample drug to an ailing patient – an act that jeopardized future federal grants for the entire ER.

He then faced possible criminal charges after showing a relative of a patient how to bypass system lockouts to administer a lethal dosage of dilaudin.

Delegated to desk duty, and with Greene and Weaver facing future disciplinary action for not reporting his tampering with the double blind study, Doug subsequently resigns and leaves Chicago for the Northwest.

He asks Carol Hathaway to go with him but she refuses, prompting the inevitable heartbreaking farewell scenes (of course, Carol would join him in a later series).

Aside from Doug’s story arc, which drew to a close towards the end of the season, the series saw Romano beginning his first day as acting ER chief, Mark Greene considering a career with NASA, and Jeanie discovering she may have contracted hepatitis.

Dr Carter (Noah Wyle) continues to grow in stature throughout the series, culminating in two memorable episodes where, firstly, he is forced to drive an ambulance while fleeing a riot scene during a paramedic ride-along and inadvertently runs over a teenage boy and, secondly, takes charge of the ER for one day.

Dr Benton, meanwhile, continues to come to terms with his son’s deafness, as well as his shifting relationship with Corday, and Third-year med student Lucy Knight enters the ER, providing plenty of problems and a possible romantic interest for Carter.

Season 5 was, in typical ER tradition, a busy series, rife with surprises, emotive storylines and interesting character development.

And while George Clooney’s departure provided the biggest talking point (and fondest memories), the show still had plenty to recommend it.

Episode titles: Day for Knight, Split Second, They Treat Horses Don’t They?, Vanishing Act, Masquerade, Stuck on You, Hazed and Confused, The Good Fight (a.k.a. A Perfect Match), Good Luck Ruth Johnson, The Miracle Worker, Nobody Doesn’t Like Amanda Lee, Double Blind, Choosing Joi, The Storm Part One, The Storm Part Two, Middle of Nowhere, Sticks and Stones, Point of Origin, Rites of Spring, Power, Responsible Parties, Getting to Know You.