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ER - The Complete First Season

2 Ratings: 5.0
A movie

One of the highest rated TV drama shows of its time, ER gave audiences a hospital drama unlike any ever before produced. With adult themes and concerns, the show has been praised for being provocative as well as highly entertaining. This unforgettable … see full wiki

Release Date: 1994-1995
MPAA Rating: Unrated
1 review about ER - The Complete First Season

ER - Season 1

  • Dec 31, 2009
Pros: cast, writing, attention to detail

Cons: none for me

The Bottom Line:
Michael Crichton 10/23/42 - 11/4/08

With the final episode looming on the horizon, I decided it was time to go back to the roots of this strange phenomenon known as ER. I simultaneously began watching the first episodes via DVD while watching the last season play out on television. It makes it all rather surreal, especially when you see some favorites from the past return.

ER started in 1994 and I remember watching the first few shows and thinking there was just way too much activity going on for me, so I avoided it for a while. However, it was a nice Thursday night distraction while I computed, so I went back.

The first season set up a decent cast with rather different backgrounds. Had they remained solely immersed in showing the trials and tribulations of an ER staff, it probably wouldn’t have lasted long. However, joining together the hectic life of the ER to the personal lives of the staff made the show much more interesting. For the most part, as far as the medical storyline went, each show gave you a conclusion to the many cases that passed through the door each day and night. On the personal side, a lot of the storylines overlapped from show to show, so if you missed a couple of shows you could be completely out of loop with interaction between characters.

Season 1, the pilot season, settled on a cast of: Dr. Mark Greene [Anthony Edwards], Dr. Doug Ross [George Clooney], Dr. Susan Lewis [Sherry Stringfield], John Carter [Noah Wyle], Dr. Peter Benton [Eriq LaSalle], Carol Hathaway [Julianna Margulies], Jeanie Boulet [Gloria Reuben] Malik McGrath [Deezer D], Jerry Markovic [Abraham Benrubi], Lydia Wright [Ellen Crawford], and Dr. David Morgenstern [William H. Macy]. Special appearances were by Ving Rhames, Rosemary Clooney, and Tobin Bell.

The series was created by Michael Crichton, based on his own experiences while training in the ER, seems fitting to be in its final season with his passing this year. I won’t even think about the awards this show has been nominated for over the years but it surprisingly won few in comparison. Now let’s enter the doors of County General Hospital, Chicago, Illinois …

Episode listing, season 1:
24 hours
Day one
Going home
Hit and run
Into the good night
Chicago heat
Another perfect day
9-½ hours
ER confidential
The gift
Happy New Year
Luck of the draw
Long day’s journey
Feb. 5, ‘95
The birthday party
Sleepless in Chicago
Love’s labor lost
Full moon, Saturday night
House of cards
Men plan, God laughs
Love among the ruins
Everything old is new again
Welcome back Carter

County General is a trauma hospital and always under pressure. Dr. Greene, the current Chief Resident, is considering leaving and going into private practice, at the urging of his wife. John Carter, a 3rd year student, starts his ER rotation on a day when a building collapses and multiple casualties arrive at County General. His mentor, Dr. Benton, has little time or patience for this inexperienced student, and he is a bit of a showoff himself. Dr. Ross staggers in, drunk, and head nurse Carol Hathaway arrives in the ER on a stretcher after a suicide attempt.

Day two works out no better for Carter as he attends to a patients rash then ends up going home with her for the night, which, naturally, leads to his own rash. When a wedding and a German tour group all end up eating the same bad potato salad, the ER is full of its own unpleasant situations. Dr. Greene’s wife, Jen, passing the bar exam and he gives her an impromptu congratulatory offering but they get caught with his pants down in one of the ER supply rooms.

The story finally comes out that Dr. Ross, the hospital flirt, and Nurse Hathaway had been having a rather lengthy affair but it had ended a few months back. This still leaves him undecided about how he feels about her suicide attempt. She does, however, finally return to work after much trepidation. Benton, never patient anyway, is hounded by a lost patient singing show tunes, although it delights the rest of the staff and patients.

Carter’s first introduction to losing a patient happens when a boy is struck in a hit and run and he notifies the wrong family that their son died. Dr. Ross, proving he has a heart as big as Chicago, obtains medication for a child that cannot afford it and Jen tells Dr. Greene she has accepted a job in Milwaukee.

With the air conditioner on the fritz, the hospital really didn’t need the onslaught of patients it received but somehow they manage once again to survive. Carter, on the other hand, gets a lead on an apartment and celebrates with a bottle of champagne on the roof of the hospital.

Carter and Benton treat a suicidal transvestite and suddenly, with a blizzard hitting Chicago, the hospital has no patients. The staff celebrates then gets a call about a 40 car accident. Benton really blows it when he publicizes a dying man’s organs for availability before contacting the family, Carter makes his moves on Dr. Lewis and her sister arrives announcing her pregnancy.

Dr. Greene treats a breast cancer patient who begs him to kill her and a poisonous snake gets loose in the ER. Three cheerleads arrive after eating LSD laced chocolates, Dr. Ross slugs an abusive father, and Benton pulls a 48 hour shift. Jen informs Dr. Greene she wants a permanent separation. New PA, Jeanie Boulet makes her appearance and it isn’t missed by Benton, who starts dating her. Carol announces that she plans on marrying Dr. Tagolini, the staff psychiatrist.

The staff finds out that Carter isn’t the poor intern they expected, but comes from a wealthy family. Carter, who didn’t think he won the internship he expected, faces his last day in the hospital and is forced to evaluate the performance of Benton. Tag calls off the wedding when Carole gets the jitters and Dr. Lewis’s sister disappears, leaving her new baby in the doctor’s care.

The season ends as it begun, with a new round of 3rd year students arriving, looking like deer in headlights, to the ER.

Extras on the DVD include:
Featurettes: Behind the Curtains, On the Cutting Edge, Medical Realism on the ER, Post Operative Procedures: Post Production in the ER.
Outtakes, additional scenes, The First Year Intern Handbook, commentary by Michael Crichton & John Wells, commentary by production crew and directors on different segments.

Acting on this series is fun and detailed. Each segment is interesting and holds a good deal of information. You can’t individually pull one actor out and showcase them because they are part of the whole. Noah Wyle was one of my favorites and continues to this day.


Related reviews:
ER - Season 1 - you are here
ER - Season 2
ER - Season 3
ER - Season 4
ER - Season 5
ER - Season 6
ER - Season 7
ER - Season 8
ER - Season 9


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