ER: Season 15 (The final Season) - Review
Review by Jack Foley
IT WAS emotional… but the 15th and final season of landmark medical series ER was one to cherish and savour.
Having entertained us for so long, the decision was taken to wind things up while still on top and ER duly delivered one of its finest seasons yet, complete with memorable cameos from just about every past favourite, and (mostly) satisfying resolutions for its current incumbents.
The combined brainchild of late best-selling author Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), Steven Spielberg, Emmy®-winning producer John Wells and Emmy® winner Christopher Chulack, ER was designed to explore the inner workings of an urban teaching hospital and the critical issues faced by the dedicated physicians and staff of its overburdened emergency room.
Originally envisaged as a movie, it subsequently became a TV phenomenon, winning innumerable accolades, and making a household name of people like Anthony Edwards, Noah Wyle and, of course, George Clooney.
Some critics have suggested that latter seasons lost their way, as new shows such as Grey’s Anatomy overtook ER in the ratings race. But for my money, ER remained the benchmark setter… as the quality of its numerous guest stars (from Forest Whitaker to Stanley Tucci) suggested.
This 15th season saw Angela Bassett joining as the new ER chief, and enjoyed strong guest slots from veterans Susan Sarandon and Ernest Borgnine.
It also started as it meant to go on… with an episode of the highest emotional intensity that featured the death of a prominent character (Mekhi Phifer’s Dr Pratt).
Subsequent episodes continued to deliver a keen mix of drama, laughter, hard-hitting issues (including paedophilia, child abuse, alcoholism, etc) and absorbing character development.
Relationships came and went, doctors endured moments of triumph and tragedy, and memories of the past came flooding back.
Noah Wyle returned for several episodes as Dr Carter, having to endure his own medical dilemma, while there were also welcome returns for Eriq La Salle’s Dr Benton, Shane West’s Ray Barnett, Paul McCrane’s Dr Romano, George Clooney’s Dr Ross, Julianna Margulies’s Hathaway and even Anthony Edwards’ Mark Greene.
On each occasion, the writers found new and inspired ways of revisiting past characters, catching up with their lives, and delivering genuine surprises.
But they never neglected the current crop of doctors, who worked tirelessly to register their own lasting memories.
The relationship between Gates (John Stamos) and Sam (Linda Cardellini) took us on an emotional rollercoaster, Archie Morris (Scott Grimes) continued to shine as one of the very best docs in ER history (complete with his own fairytale ending of sorts), Neela Rasgotra (Parminder Nagra) made some tough decisions and earned her happy farewell, and Simon Brenner (David Lyons) provided some of the most surprisingly intense sequences of the season and genuinely grew into a fine character.
Every episode stood out in some way, although – perhaps obviously – keynote episodes such as Life After Death (featuring Pratt’s death), The Book of Abby (featuring the departure of Abby Lockhart), Heal Thyself (a flashback episode featuring Mark Greene), Old Times (the return of Clooney) and And In The End… (the final episode) drew the biggest responses and highest audience numbers.
For anyone who’s ever watched ER, however, this final season was one that delivered everything that could have been expected and more. It ensured the show finished on as big a high as it started… and the release of the box set makes for unmissable viewing.
- Buy ER: Season 11 (Amazon)
- ER: Season 15 - And In The End (final episode reviewed)
- ER: Season 15 - Old Times reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - What We Do reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - T-Minus 6 reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - The Beginning of the End reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - The Family Man reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - A Long, Strange Trip reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Love Is A Battlefield reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Dream Runner reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Separation Anxiety reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - The High Holiday reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Let It Snow reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Age of Innocence reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Heal Thyself reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Oh, Brother reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Haunted reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Parental Guidance reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - The Book of Abby reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Another Thursday At County reviewed
- ER: Season 15 - Season opener reviewed