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This review is from: ER: The Complete Second Season [DVD]  (DVD)
Coming from an incredibly successful and superb season one, the second series of ER had some huge shoes to fill - to its credit, it does it well.
Second series - the "sophomore year" - are renowned for failing to live up to the promise of the first year and by and large ER does not fall into this trap. The camera work continues to push boundaries, being inventive and extremely effective in giving a sense of emergency during the trauma scenes, while also heightening the emotion in the other scenes. The acting again is flawless, not only from the six "regular" actors, but also from the supporting cast and guest stars.
Where the second series differs slightly from the first is that there is a far greater focus on the private lives of the characters. While still playing out the dramas within the hospital set, those dramas do not relate to the patients anywhere near as much. Unfortunately this leads to a much more "soap" feel than the previous year, and combined with sometimes instrusive, overly sentimental music cues, and occasionally uneven writing and characterisation (the see-sawing of Carter's character is a good example) this "soapie-fying" of ER is the major downfall of the series.
The DVD set is good value, with some interesting special features including a blooper-reel and some fairly interesting documentaries. There is also commentary on two episodes which were possibly the two biggest exercises in self-congratulation I have ever listened to. When listening to a commentary I like to hear directors' insights and behind-the-scenes information; these episodes instead spend their time praising the effectiveness of shots, editing and script-writing. That said however, there is the occasional piece of interesting information on these directors' philosophy of film, character and actors that you can manifesting itself in ER.
While not quite up to the standard of season one, this is definitely a series to purchase.