ER: The Complete Eighth Season (DVD)
Season eight was a time of big changes for the ER, with perhaps the biggest set of in-season transitions yet. Jing-Mei Chen (Ming-Na) is the new chief resident, but a bad call lands her and "Doctor Dave" Malucci (Eric Palladino) in hot water and brings out the self-preserving worst in Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes). Peter Benton (Eriq LaSalle) finds himself with sole responsibility for deaf son Reese, and Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) and Elizabeth Corday (Alex Kingston) are already dealing with juggling their jobs, a brain tumor, and a newborn when Mark's teenage daughter Rachel (Hallee Hirsh) arrives. John Carter (Noah Wyle) is still chasing away ghosts, while Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) and Luka Kovacs (Goran Visnjic) begin to have relationship problems. That seems to open the door for Carter and Abby, but then Dr. Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) returns and sets off sparks. In one of ER
's famous inclement-weather episodes, Carter's grandmother (Frances Sternhagen), though not fit to drive, does so, breaking her hip and hitting a young woman, while Weaver and medical student/Army reservist Michael Gallant (Sharif Atkins) try to save a pregnant stab victim in a wrecked, electrified ambulance. It's one of Weaver's finest hours, and the firefighter with whom she butts heads at the scene (Lisa Vidal) ends up playing a significant role later.
By the end of the season, a number of doctors are gone, none more significant than the two original cast members. Benton's exit is like the doctor himself: clean, efficient, and with barely a hint of emotion. And Greene's departure is also fitting: unable to separate himself from the ER, he stays at work till nearly the bitter end, when he finally relents and takes a trip to his boyhood home of Hawaii, where Iz's Island-flavored rendition of "Over the Rainbow" proves especially moving in the season's penultimate episode, "On the Beach." Other cast members include Julie Delpy as a barmaid who takes a liking to Kovac, Mekhi Phifer as new hotshot intern Greg Pratt, Mary McDonnell and Michael Gross as Carter's parents, Christina Hendricks as Abby's battered neighbor, and Molly Price and Jason Wiles as New York cops in a crossover episode with Third Watch. Bonus features include a gag reel and deleted scenes, including eight from "On the Beach." --David Horiuchi