by Amy K. Bredemeyer
After fifteen seasons, the finale will air this Thursday night. There will be a one-hour retrospective, and then a two-hour finale immediately following. Thursday night, I'll be on NBC from 8pm-11pm. Why? Because ER is finally going to end. And it will be missed.
Because of its many characters and long history, it is nearly impossible to swiftly cover the basics of this show. Those who were there in the beginning (Carter, Benton, Greene, Lewis, Hathaway, Ross) are no longer there, and many who took part in the middle are long gone, too. We'll never forget treasures like Weaver, Boulet, Corday, Abby, Luka, and Ray. And the same with those nobody really liked... Romano, Moretti, Clemente. And those who weren't around long enough to garner an opinion... like Lucy, Anna, Hope, and Malucci. And Cleo, I always forget about her unless there's a rerun with her on television. This whole final season has really broke the bank bringing back old stars for guest appearances, and trying to wrap-up the stories which have been going on for so long. Abby and Luka had closure, Neela finally found a future,
They killed off Pratt. Neela is moved away. The new Banfield got a baby, which has really been her only storyline since her introduction. Morris got engaged last week. That leaves Sam and Tony, and Brenner. Not the best characters ever, but it should make for an amazingly interesting finale. Carter's been around on-and-off this season, and that's enough to take the breath away from many.
It's hard to believe that they were originally concerned that it would never make it as a primetime show. The writers thought the pilot would never even air. And Crichton's pilot sat a good twenty years before it even got a chance. Oh, and when Doug Ross (played by George Clooney) left in 1999, they began writing the series finale. Yep, ten years ago. Even after it was doing well, they were afraid that it wouldn't last. And producer/writer John Wells hasn't changed the idea of the finale all that much, which is odd when you consider the characters are nowhere near the same as those of a decade ago!
I saved this entry as the last one in this series because it is so near and dear to my heart. How did it get that way? Well, just as 7th Heaven did, ER caught my eye one morning in reruns during the summer. I got hooked seeing the show for two hours a day, and began watching the new episodes in undergrad. I got one of my friends hooked on it too, and we shared Thursday nights together until I got her the first two seasons on DVD, and then we were rather obsessed for a few weeks...
So, what can I say in a situation like this? I already gave a nostalgia for characters, but that doesn't help those who aren't already familiar with the series, and there are at least three times as many characters who've gone unmentioned. Because of the nature of the show, I've rarely gotten attached to the patients, and have very few *favorite* episodes. Aside from encouraging one and all to delve into the series, I'm left with hooking you by mentioning some of my favorite storylines (in no order)... even though this is kinda like a spoiler for those who haven't seen the show from the beginning...
- The end of Greene... his tumor, the operation, and the return. The pain, the sadness, and his life. Oldest daughter Rachel moves in with him, but she's troubled (drugs and such). He spends the end of his days trying to get Rachel back on the right path.
- Carter's addiction to painkillers... after being stabbed on Valentine's Day, Carter develops an addiction to painkillers which lasts a long time. Rehab, AA, the whole nine yards.
- Jeanie Boulet's HIV... she was in a bad marriage, sleeping with Benton, and working as a physical therapist. Husband announces his HIV-status, and she and Benton get tested. Benton is negative, Jeanie is positive. She has a very rough time dealing with her serostatus and working at County, but stays for years. She eventually leaves to be a stay-at-home mother to an HIV-positive adopted baby.
- Peter's devotion to Reese... Reese is Peter's deaf son with an old girlfriend. Battles for custody are fought more than once, but when Carla dies and custody needs to go wither to Peter or to Carla's husband Roger, things get tough. Turns out we don't know who Reese's biological father is, and that Peter commits perjury trying to win custody (which he does).
- Romano's death... well, I'm among the many who loved to hate him. So, when he was killed by a helicopter, I was not only shocked (since he had already had a horrible injury by another helicopter), but kinda glad. He was gone. And only Corday went to his funeral.
- Dr. Lewis's family issues... this is kinda multiple storylines. Susan has a strung-out older sister with a daughter whom Susan must often care for. Susan has horrible relationships, and never did get together with Greene in the way many viewers hoped. She eventually marries and has a baby, and one of my favorite scenes is Susan reciting All the Hippos go Berserk! over the phone.
- Kerry and Henry... Kerry was my favorite character for a long time. Her relationships were so touching. So when her life partner dies, she has to battle for custody of their son, which the partner birthed.
- Carter's departure... it was hard to see him go. But, it was one hell of an episode. Ray and Morris are at a party which injures hundreds of people when the building collapses. Abby has to make the call on whether they'll take casualties at County. Carter treats a patient who he delivered int he very first ER episode. And he passes on the immortal words that have gone from Morgenstern to Greene to Carter to Morris. wha were they? well, I think they'll use them again this week, so I'll leave you in suspense. :-p
- Alex's kidnapping... Alex is Sam's son, and his father comes to kidnap him and Sam by shooting up the ER. It takes a few days for them to return, and after being raped, Sam shoots and kills him. This disturbs Alex, and Sam ends up sending him to a special boarding school after he becomes destructive.
- Tony's "family"... Tony seems to have one close friend, whose daughter (Sara) he has pretty much raised. After her mother dies, Tony takes custody of her, even though he's not her biological parent. He deals with meddling grandparents, an alcoholic father, a failed relationship with Sam (and Julia for that matter), and failed flirtations with Neela, whom he called "Mayday."