Posted: 01/10/2010

 

ER: Season 12 On DVD

(2010)

by Laura Tucker




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ER will always have a special place in my heart for several reasons. For one, it debuted when my son was a toddler, and my husband was helping out a friend working nights in a liquor store, so I’d get my son into bed and treat myself to watching ER on Thursday nights while I went over my grocery list. Secondly, with a show that was around for fifteen seasons, and even though the cast fully changed out from the first season to the last, those characters on there are like family to me. I spent fifteen years seeing them at least once a week. And for another reason, it’s just a really good show.

On Tuesday Warner Bros. is releasing Season 12 on DVD. With all those seasons, how do you distinguish just one of them? For this one it’s simple. It’s the season with John Leguizamo and Kristen Johnston. Ah. Now you remember, right? I could never decide whether these two were just hired for long term guest stints or whether NBC decided the characters of Dr. Vic Clemente and nurse Eve were taking the show in the wrong direction and decided to eliminate them and get back to more solid storylines with Dr. Kovac and Abby Lockhart (Goran Visnjic and Maura Tierney).

I really liked the Dr. Clemente character. I would have loved to have him stick around, and Leguizamo also happens to be a damn good actor. Yet, once they stretched the character too far by bringing in a girlfriend for him that was on the run from her cop husband, then had him ultimately going crazy, he had to leave. They basically ruined his whole storyline with all that.

Johnston is always a great comic foil, too. The back and forth nature the writers gave Eve and Sam (Linda Cardellini) was good for both characters. It was good to see Sam get a storyline other than following Luka around and worrying constantly about her son. The difficulties in her job situation added a lot to her storyline, only for them to fire Eve on Christmas Eve and send Sam back into the drama of her jailbird ex.

With Luka free after being dumped by Sam, this left him to pursue other romantic interests, although neither he nor Abby seemed to suspect they would end up together, or certainly not that she would end up pregnant. It always blew my mind when these doctors and nurses would end up pregnant. Shouldn’t they know better than anyonoe else how it all happens and how best to prevent an unwanted pregnancy?

The other big storyline during this season was Neela’s (Parminder Nagra) lovelife. It seemed everyone wanted her, from her roommate Ray (Shane West) to Dr. Dubenko (Leland Orser) to newcomer paramedic Tony Gates (John Stamos). But her heart remained with Michael Gallant (Sharif Atkins), who came home on leave to marry her, only to leave her widowed when he reupped to do another tour of Iraq. I actually liked her better not knowing what to do with her lovelife, so I don’t want to say I was glad to see him killed in action, but I was glad to see the end of the storyline.

While I do see this season as another great one for ER, I also think it was the beginning of the end. They seemed to really lose focus of what made the show so great. It was the chracters and the storylines that pulled us in. Yet, they began going oversees to wartorn countries with Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) in earlier seasons, and they played that one up even more here, having Dr. Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) going to serve time with him after Kovac declined his second tour there.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to call attention to the troubles in wartorn countries, but it didn’t belong on ER. ER was supposed to be about the doctors and nurses of the fictional County General in Chicago. It was supposed to be their life in the hospital and how difficult it was, yet a look as well at the private lives of these doctors and nurses that seemed to be just as difficult, if not more so. I watched ER to the end and enjoyed every episode, minus the ones that were set entirely in wartorn areas such as Darfur, but I don’t think they ever recaputured the cohesiveness they once had. It shows in the way they brought in John Leguizamo and Kristen Johnston, only to dump them quickly and oddly.

Seasons 12 of ER will be released by Warner Bros. on DVD Tuesday, January 12.

Laura Tucker is the webmaster of Reality Shack and its accompanying Reality Shack Blog, provides reviews at Viewpoints, and provides entertainment news pieces at Gather. She is also an Associate Instructor and 2nd dan black belt in tae kwon do with South Elgin Martial Arts. Laura can be reached at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.



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