Gut Reaction: ER Series Finale   

Things get emotional behind the scenes of the finale episode of ER. © NBC Universal

Don’t have time to really analyze last night’s two-hour ER finale. I’d love to pull out the moments from the pilot and first season that we got to see echoed here. So here’s my gut reaction…

As mentioned the other day, I’ve been watching ER for the past several years. I watched it in the beginning of course. Who didn’t? But I drifted off about the time that Doug and Carol left although I think it was Carter’s drug dependency that really drove me away. I’d catch an episode here and there and sometimes I’d watch a complete story arc but, for the most part, I wasn’t invested in the show for a long period there in the middle. Then I was staying with my sister after she had her fourth baby and she got me back into the show. Damn her!

I’ve not always loved these past few years. There were times when I’d watch the show while doing other things but I still watched. I’m invested in more than just the characters from the show’s heyday. Which is exactly why the two-hour finale was a little disappointing. The stories were good. Being the continuity freak that I am, I can definitely appreciate all the call-backs to the pilot and earlier stories. However, there was way too little in it for the folks who have been watching right up until the end.

Alexis Bledel guest stars as Julia Wise on the series finale of ER. © NBC UniversalAs much as I love Alexis Bledel, I am baffled as to why they felt they had to bring in a new character to play that role. I get that she was supposed to echo Carter’s role in the pilot but that’s kind of a cheat given that we had plenty of people that could have mirrored what he was going through already in the ER. Especially since it was obvious we’re supposed to buy that she’d already been there for a bit. Why exactly couldn’t have Shiri Appleby’s character have filled this position? She’s still new enough that it would have felt the same and I wouldn’t have been annoyed at having to accept this random person suddenly showing up and knowing everyone.

Tony and Sam hold hands on the finale of ER.But then, other than Sam and Tony, none of our current doctors got any face time in the final TWO HOURS of the show. No offense to all of you that tuned in just to see the older doctors return, I actually like and care about the current characters. I wanted a little more of them than we got. Maybe if I had known the last few episodes were really the last time I was going to spend with them, I’d have felt a little less cheated. Instead I kept wondering why the finale felt like a completely different show with occasional appearances by people I knew. Annoying.

The ER doctors spring to action one last time.I enjoyed the storylines we got. I cried more than once. I liked seeing Weaver, Corday, Lewis, and Benton all together again. I even liked the inclusion of Rachel Greene. Teared up when she first said her name to Frank. Who knew such a brat could grow into a young woman who would be interested in County? And even though the show effectively killed my love for both Sam and Tony last season, I’m happy Sam finally broke down and thanked him for all he does for her and Alex (speaking of reformed bratty kids). I LOVED the final scene. Everyone standing there waiting for the ambulances and then snapping into action is the very essence of this show.

There was a lot to like in these final two hours but, as someone who has been invested in the storylines from this season and the doctors from the last few years, I felt short-changed. Happily the one-hour ER retrospective left me with lots of warm and fuzzy feelings. It helped ease the discontent I felt during those last two hours. At least I did get to spend an hour with some of my favorites, recalling moments from ER-past.

Despite my feelings on the finale, saying goodbye to County General was harder than I expected. I’ll miss it.

The last shot of ER leaves us with our first full view of County General.

4 Responses to “Gut Reaction: ER Series Finale”

  1. 1
    ColoradoKila says:

    Rae – I absolutely loved the finale. I was a complete mess most of the time. I was not as critical.

    However, I do agree that there were a few stumbles.
    1) The Alexis Bledel thing – agree with you on this, so random
    2) I have so grown to love Archie, that I was disappointed we didn’t get more of a completed story for him
    3) Dr Carter – same thing, why didn’t we get closure on this? He is such an iconic, well-loved character on the show and we dont’ get to see him walk off into the sunset happy?

    Everything else to me was really touching & lovely. The last scene & the pan out – LOVED!!!!!!

  2. 2
    Rae says:

    Oh, I was a mess too. Made going to sleep easy because I was all tuckered out from my crying.

    I think I just wanted a little more of my new favorites. Archie, as you mentioned, is really the one that got me. I think his story probably had a natural “ending” in the previous episode since we get to see how much he’s changed and grown and how important he is to everyone at the hospital. And, if I had known that was his episode to shine, I probably would have been OK with it. But I went into this episode expecting more of the current doctors. I think that’s exactly what led to my feeling of discontent when I started to think about it.

    Re: Alexis… The funny thing is I liked her a whole lot more than the other new doctors we had this season. I kinda wish they’d introduced her earlier. Even if she had just transferred in a couple of episodes ago, it would have been less out of the blue to have her suddenly be this person everyone knew.

    Re: Carter… I kinda felt like we had a decent amount of closure on Carter though I understand what you mean. But I’m happy with the idea that he’s got the Carter Center and that’s going to be his focus from now on. I like the idea of him in Chicago and doing what he does best. Of course, I expected a little more about that storyline. Weird that they built a whole set for the Carter Center and all we saw was a momentary speech. But I guess the Carter Center is NOT the ER so maybe that’s a completely different show… ;)

  3. 3
    Michelle says:

    I started crying during the one hour retrospective… I’ve watched ER from the beginning… I remember the pilot episode in 94… I was 11 and I watched it every Thursday since… along with Friends and Seinfeld and that whole old Thursday line-up on NBC… I stopped watching faithfully after they killed Gallant off… I LOVED him and Neela and had been in a relationship with a soldier so that episode just killed it for me… although I did watch episodes now and then, I recently started seeing them all on TNT so by the time the last season came I was caught up and hooked all over again. I’m happy with the way they ended things. It was good to see some of the old cast and it was good to see them go in and have some of the crazy life and death experiences happen that made ER what it was… I cried my eyes out during the last scene and I thought it went out so appropriately with a disaster coming in. I’m truely going to miss this show and I suppose I’m just going to have to fill that time slot on Thursday nights by watching the ER dvd’s! :)

  4. 4

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