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ER - Season 4 DVD Box Set (15)



Review: Jack Foley

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Outpatients outtakes. Easter Egg.

Episode titles: Ambush, Something New, Friendly Fire, When the Bough Breaks, Good Touch, Bad Touch, Ground Zero, Fathers and Sons, Freak Show, Obstruction of Justice, Do You See What I See?, Think Warm Thoughts, Sharp Relief, Carter's Choice, Family Practice, Exodus, My Brother's Keeper, A Bloody Mess, Gut Reaction, Shades of Gray, Of Past Regret and Future Fear, Suffer the Little Children, A Hole in the Heart.

IT WAS pretty much business as usual in the ER for season 4 - a series which began with the aftermath of the hospital attack on Dr Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) as well as the introduction of new faces, Maria Bello and Alex Kingston.

George Clooney continued to break hearts and create moral dilemmas in his role as Dr Doug Ross - although the seeds were sown towards the end of the series to prepare for his departure in the following series.

While the relationship between Dr Carter (Noah Wyle) and his mentor, Dr Benton (Eriq La Salle) continued to build momentum, culminating in Carter coming-of-age and forcing Benton to stop treating him as a student.

The consistently high standards of storywriting were also maintained, with the balance between the personal lives of the ER staff and the medical traumas they had to deal with handled with typical aplomb.

Stand-out episodes included a road trip between best friends, Dr Greene and Dr Ross, during which Clooney heads to California to identify his dead father's body, while Greene returns to San Diego to visit his family.

And an episode entitled Exodus, in which the ER must be evacuated when several workers at a chemical plant track benzine all over the floors, prompting Dr Weaver to be overcome by the poison and Dr Carter to take over the evacuation.

Both were classic examples of how the series excels by developing the story arcs of each character, while also being able to deliver stand-alone medical episodes of the highest order.

Exodus was a tense affair that continually raised the stakes, while the road-trip between Ross and Greene included some wonderful interplay between two great actors.

Of the story arcs that drew the most interest, Carter's treatment of a serial rapist presented viewers with another strong moral dilemma, as did his attempts to treat his heroin-addicted brother, Chase, who ended up brain-dead come the end of the series.

And while there was nothing to rival the intensity of Mark Green's attack (from season three) or the forthcoming depature of Doug Ross (season five), or even the stabbing of Dr Carter (season six), season four consistently entertained with its deft blend of tragedy, humour and compelling human drama.

It is a must-have box set for long-term fans of the series, as well as those still lamenting the loss of one of its biggest assets - a certain George Clooney.

While for those who have only recently become hooked by the Channel 4 drama, it also provides an intriguing insight into the early days (and cast) of this acclaimed hospital drama.

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