ER: The Complete Sixth Season (DVD)
ER's sixth season was one of transition, bidding farewell to an original character and welcoming several new ones. After watching Doug Ross (George Clooney) leave in the previous season, Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) is left on her own, pregnant with twins. When Robert "Rocket" Romano (Paul McCrane) makes a bid to run the whole hospital, Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes) and Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) make plans to take a stand against him. Weaver, however, double-crosses Greene and winds up getting to run the ER. Peter Benton (Eriq La Salle) is locked up in a battle over his deaf son, Jeanie Boulet (Gloria Reubens) hopes to adopt an HIV-positive child, and John Carter (Noah Wyle) heats things up with his ex-cousin-in-law (Rebecca De Mornay). When Hathaway goes into labor on Thanksgiving, she's cared for by a perky OB nurse named Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney). But Lockhart is also a third-year medical student, and she later turns up in the ER as part of her rotation. One of her first encounters is with new attending Luka Kovacs (Goran Visnjic), of whom she says, "Well, we never had doctors like that in OB... Is he single?" And on her memorable first day, she gets vomited on and bitten; she plays espionage on a scheming mother, and she misdiagnoses a patient. Former medical student Deb Chen, now known as Jing-Mei (Ming-Na), returns as a resident, Alan Alda arrives as new attending Gabe Lawrence, and "Dr. Dave" Malucci (Erik Palladino), Dr. Cleo Finch (Michael Michele), and desk clerk Frank (Troy Evans) also join the cast.
As usual, tensions ran high. Elizabeth Corday (Alex Kingston) crosses the line by coercing a confession out of a suspected rapist (Lawrence Monoson), which would haunt her all season. Then during one chaotic shift, it seems almost trivial that Lucy Knight (Kellie Martin) and Carter give a painful spinal tap to a patient named Paul Sobricki (David Krumholtz) whom they later find is schizophrenic. But at the end of the shift, while the staff is celebrating Valentine's Day, events unfold into the most harrowing scene in the history of the series, and one of the most gut-wrenching in the history of television drama. Guest stars include Broadway actor John Cullum as Green's father, Judy Parfitt as Corday's mother, Martha Plimpton as a pregnant waitress, The X-Files' Mitch Pileggi as a man with Huntington's disease, and Shia LeBeouf and Dakota Fanning as young patients with multiple sclerosis and leukemia, respectively. As with most ER DVDs, the sixth season has numerous deleted scenes, including one of Lucy's first encounter with Sobricki. --David Horiuchi