ER: Season 1
DVD | Box Set
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The lives, loves and losses of the doctors and nurses of Chicago's County General Hospital. Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the most watched and honored drama of the last decade. Loaded with extensive special features including two new documentaries featuring Steven Spielberg, Michael Crichton, John Wells and George Clooney created exclusively for this release.
Audio Commentary:Audio commentary on three key episodes by series producers and crew
Documentaries:Prescription for Success: The Birth of ER; First-Year Rotation: Caring for ER; On the Cutting Edge: Medical Realism on ER; Post Operative Procedures: Post Production in the ER
Scene Access:Audio commentary on three key episodes by series producers and crew
Inspired by creator Michael Crichton's experiences as a medical student in a hospital emergency room, ER quickly became one of the most compelling shows of the 1990s, each episode a whirlwind of intense and involving drama, gritty realism, and offbeat humor. Heading the staff at the inner-city Chicago hospital is Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards), a doctor so good at providing care to the downtrodden, helpless, or just plain quirky patients that his career blossoms even as his personal life crumbles. Greene is the soul of the cast, but the heart is Julianna Margulies's nurse Carol Hathaway. Her character was intended only for the pilot episode, but she ended up capturing viewers with her palpable empathy for patients and her troublesome romance with womanizing pediatrician Doug Ross (George Clooney). The rest of the central cast consisted of compassionate Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield), Peter Benton (Eriq Lasalle), whose prodigious talent nearly matches his ambition, and his fresh-faced student, John Carter (Noah Wyle). Other key characters included ER heads Morgenstern and Swift (William H. Macy and Michael Ironside, respectively), overachieving student Deb (Ming Na), who returned later in the show's run, attending physician Angela Hicks (CCH Pounder), and physical therapist Jeanie Boulet (Gloria Rueben).
The remarkably strong first season showed off its sharp ensemble cast through a variety of compelling story lines both personal (Carter's conflicts with Benton, Lewis's struggles with her no-account sister, Chloe, played by Kathleen Wilhoite) and professional (a holiday blizzard and especially the harrowing tale of a pregnancy gone bad, "Love's Labor Lost," which won five Emmy Awards). When Carter is pondering whether his future includes the ER, Green jokes, "It's not bad: Stress, late nights, hard work, no pay--it's hard to beat." It's hard to imagine people choosing to work under those conditions, but they do, and in the process these very human people perform superhuman feats as they face life and death as part of their daily jobs.
DVD features are fairly generous for a TV series box. There are two commentary tracks on the pilot episode, including one by Crichton, and crew commentaries on "Sleepless in Chicago" and "Love's Labor Lost." A new 39-minute documentary discusses the show's genesis, casting, and the "Chicago hospital drama smackdown" with Chicago Hope through interviews with Crichton, executive producer Steven Spielberg, other crew members, and the principal cast members other than Eriq LaSalle. Also included are a very watchable featurette on the show's realism (ever wonder why Ross is always looking down?) and another on post-production, a list of characters (including patients by episode, but why no actor credits?), three minor deleted scenes, outtakes, and a glossary of frequently used medical terms. Particularly notable is that the episodes are shown in anamorphic widescreen. ER was one of the first network shows broadcast in widescreen, but that was years after these episodes, which are shown in widescreen for the first time. --David Horiuchi
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Top Customer Reviews
ER takes place in a busy Chicago hospital, in the Emergency Room of course! Following a particular cast of doctors and nurses, each day brings new types of trauma to the ER. But all these doctors and nurses have complicated personal lives as well and between that and the patients, sometimes the stress can get a little much. But there are always lives to be saved.
Anthony Edwards: Dr. Mark Greene
George Clooney: Dr. Doug Ross
Sherry Stringfield: Dr. Susan Lewis
Noah Wyle: John Carter
Julianna Margulies: Carol Hathaway
Eriq La Salle: Dr. Peter Benton
I could try to list all of the cast in this show, but it would take forever. But there are a lot, and they all play varied and important roles. The above named have the most screentime though. Anthony Edwards is one of my favorites. He plays a kindly doctor with an overbearing wife (at least in my opinion) and he's often the voice of reason. Clooney, on the other hand, is the wild child of the ER, frequently playing cowboy and getting himself into intense, but short romantic encounters. Stringfield is Susan Lewis, who is likable but has a bit of a temper even though she is supposed to be sweet. Margulies took some getting used to for me, but eventually I came around and enjoy seeing her on the show. Since she's the Head Nurse she has a pretty important role. And then there's La Salle, who does a great job playing the some-what jerk of a surgical resident.
A tv show in a hospital is nothing new. Which it is really why the actors drive this show. Otherwise it would just be procedures, gore, and lots of sick people. But with the cast and their different personalities and different lives, it makes it a little something different. I do find the medical terminology intriguing, although I don't know enough to say whether or not it is accurate. I'm going to assume that it's at least fairly accurate, or there would have been tons of outrage from the medical community when it aired. Regardless, it makes for good viewing, and while not classified as educational, still better than some of the mindless cartoons out there!
I do want to warn viewers that there is blood and violence and lots of things that may disturb viewers. It also deals with a lot of different social issues like suicide and abortion. So if you're not prepared to watch things like that, don't watch the show.
I really enjoy this show and am looking forward to watching all the seasons I can get my hands on.
Review by M. Reynard 2013
But, seeing it as it premiered in 1984, with a cast that was probably surpassed only by "The West Wing", it was crackling with life and excitement and humanity. Compared to it, the 2012 series "Monday Mornings" was a highly mannered, pretentious shadow of the real thing which was "ER". I could not keep my eyes off the screen, and I ordered Seasons 2 and 3 almost immediately. I can now look forward to several weeks of viewing the entire series at the rate of three to four episodes per night.
The main cast is quite good, but it goes to new heights when the show is peppered with some outstanding guest appearances such as ER chiefs played by William H. Macy and Michael ironside, and cardiac surgeon, CCH Pounder, plus brother in law Ving Rhames. At first, I'm surprised at the brusque treatment and "guidance" 3rd year medical student Noah Wyle gets from his 2nd year surgical resident, Eriq La Salle. This is about as close as "ER" ever gets to the prima donna characterization of a doctor on "House". In all other ways, it is the demonstration that "House" is a surreal abstraction of hospital behavior, far removed from reality.
One almost senses that the level of activity in the average day in the "ER" is exaggerated. I've been in very few Emergency Rooms in my life, and they tend to be relatively quiet. But then again, this is in downtown Chicago, and a teaching hospital, which probably has the mandate to turn down no one. In one episode, at night, during a heavy snow storm, we see for a small part of one episode, what the ER looks like when it is not busy. That didn't last long.
I have not yet seen any following seasons, but like "The West Wing" (same producer, John Wells), this show takes off from the opening scenes of the first episode, and never once drops the ball.
However, the relationships, atmosphere, dilemmas, triumphs and tribulations of the ER staff are in some senses universal to all healthcare professionals: The desire for perfection while never being able to achieve it, power struggles among those who are supposed to be a team, work vs. family/personal life, being unable to help some patients, ethical dilemmas, finding your place as a new clinician, and the sometimes simply odd experiences of caring for the health and well-being of your fellow human. No other medical drama I've seen comes even close to showing it how it really is than ER, and I've taken a look at Gray's Anatomy, House, and others. All of them require a large suspension of disbelief on my part (first of all: Where the hell is their nursing staff?). With ER, I can simply turn it on and get lost in the story, even if medicine has taken leaps and bounds forward since the first season aired back when I was a kid.
The show is all the more satisfying for me now that the medical jargon is familiar to my ears and the experiences personal instead of second-hand. ER continues its excellence even well into the new millennium.