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ER: Complete Season 14 (Review)

ER: Season 14

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE penultimate season of ER was as predictably excellent as ever, featuring 19 episodes and an extended guest appearance from the ever-brilliant Stanley Tucci.

It also marked the 300th episode of the show, appropriately entitled 300 Patients, and a typically strong cliffhanger ending.

The season opened amid the immediate aftermath of the peace rally demonstration and provided Tucci’s new chief Moretti with a changeling first day as the emergency room is inundated with casualties from the peace rally, including Neela (Parminder Nagra).

And early on, Moretti’s presence caused tension with Abby (Maura Tierney), Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) and Morris (Scott Grimes) as each tried to figure out how to handle his strict new ER procedures.

Tucci, as ever, expertly portrayed Moretti, making him, by turns, brilliant, difficult, sympathetic and complex. He clearly cared, but he had his own way of doing things and wasn’t afraid to impose his will.

Sadly, while most of the ER regulars gradually warmed to him, Abby refused to – which made their eventual sexual liaison all the more shocking.

But then a lot of the drama in this series revolved around Abby and her ongoing battle with the demon alcohol. With new husband Luka (Goran Visnjic) spending most of the series in Croatia looking after his sick father, Abby was forced to contend with a new child on her own and struggled.

Events came to a head in an emotionally hard-hitting episode called Blackout, in which the character reached an important crossroads. It was a dark episode that provided compelling evidence of just how good Tierney is in the role. She’s not always likeable, and not prepared to be, but it makes her struggle more convincing (she’s a nasty drunk at the worst of times).

Of the other episodes to stand out, the 300th landmark 300 Patients competently demonstrated why the show has endured for so long – combining all the key elements (drama, humour, sadness, emotional drama) as effortlessly as ever.

While Atonement delivered another powerhouse example of the show’s ability to represent strong ethical issues in an intelligent, and not patronising, way. Guest star Jonathan Banks was superb as an ex-prison doctor struggling to atone for his past sins, as was Reiko Aylesworth as the hospital pastor.

Final episode The Chicago Way capped a memorable series and – having apparently given Abby a happy ending and long-awaited reunion with Luka – left both her life in the balance, along with Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) following an ambulance explosion.

As ever, ER continued to deliver the goods. It’s just a shame that there’s only one more series remaining.

Certificate: 15
Episodes 19
UK DVD Release: May 18, 2009