The first series is best known for introducing George Clooney to the world as the likable but maverick Dr Ross; the show has often featured star guests such as Sally Field and Ewan McGregor, among others, while several seasons have seen the coming and going of various personnel. However, if one character embodies the strength of ER it's Dr Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards), whose dedication to his job has seen him turn down lucrative and cosier offers in the private sector, and who is an exemplar of decency, selflessness and emotional stability. The episodes dealing with his father's death were among the most moving in the series, touching as they did on a theme never far from ER's surface, that of reconciliation with mortality. --David Stubbs
It only takes about 2 episodes for this first season to get up to speed, and I mean speed. Most people have seen at least one episode of ER and most marvel at the pace of the program. It is constant. I guess we have started to get used to it now after 10 seasons but going back to the start really brings home the pioneering aspects of this first season.
Pioneering why? ER is one of the first TV programmes to not bother to explain everything in minute detail. Who cares if the audience do no know what a 'thoracotomy' or 'blood gas' actually are. They are doctors, they all know it so why waste plot time explaining stuff! Also, the large use of tracking shots (where the camera follows the actors between many scenes without a cut or break) really makes you think that you are in the hospital with them. It turns out after watching the special features that this was to save money, but it is fab!
Each episode is very good blend of serious drama and humour. Who can forget the brilliant comedy characters such as the University 'Behaviour Analyst' who is studying the length of time it takes to annoy someone. There is some brilliant, blink and you will miss them, comedy skits too: the man with the arrow who was waiting for 20 minutes, the sun burn victim, the kid with his head stuck in a stuffed tiger. I could go on! A special mention must go to Noah Wyle who is an excellent comedy actor that seems to have been under used in later seasons as he has become more 'senior'.
Drama wise, there are plenty of on-going threads through the episodes, Greene's relationship with his wife, Lewis's relationship with her sister, Benton's general rubbishness at being nice to people. And of course, Dr Ross's love life. Each episode is well written, never boring and a good balance of drama, action and comedy. A standout episode is the Emmy winning 'Love's Labor Lost'. I am not just saying that because it's the one that won the awards. It is genuinely, in my opinion, the best episode of the season.
The extras are ok. A couple of episode voiceovers and around 5 short featurettes about the making of and behind the scenes. The episode voiceovers were very informative and the featurettes the usual 'I just loved working with so-and-so, he/she was just soooo great' gush-fest. Not bad, but you really ought to be buying this DVD for the programmes!
After a slow, moody and poor (by comparison) season 10 I think the current writers should "go back to the roots" and investigate what made the programme great in the first place. Come on ER writers buy this box set and remember what it was like!
This is must watch TV.
Program: 5 stars
DVD Extras: 3 stars
The show has won so many awards, and rightly so.
If you've seen this already I'm sure you like it enough to buy this. If not, then I strongly suggest you do, because it is one of the best things ever to have been shown on TV.
The pilot plunges you headfirst into the frequently funny but oftentimes heartbreaking world of Chicago County General hospital and the following episodes just keep on getting better. There are no dud episodes. All the characters are well written - even the 'patients of the day' feel three dimensional - and you care about what happens to them.
If you have been watching it for all 9 Seasons or if you picked it up somewhere in the middle, it is still worthwhile owning this to see where it all started. This programme didn't have to find its stride during its first Season as so many do, you won't find yourself cringing with embarrassment as you re-live the first moments with some of your favourite characters (although Dr Ross' hair does take some getting used to again), ER hit the floor running with excellent acting and fantastic storylines.
If you have never seen ER before then you have no idea what you are missing.
Buy it - you won't regret it.
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