ER airs for last time

In television, there are few television shows that captivate audiences for a full 15 seasons. “ER” on NBC has managed to do just that, procuring tears, laughter and appreciation for humanity from its audience episode after episode.

Originally created to be a film, the pilot episode that launched in 1994 was nothing like television had ever seen before. The cinematography panned so as to constantly show patients, doctors and the various rooms of the hospital setting, following the movement of the fast-paced action-the action of an emergency room. The characters were flawed heroes, always portraying the balance of stress, having a conscience and making the decisions between the life and death of other people. The nation embraced this style, as the pilot’s ratings were through the roof.

Thursday, April 2 was the last airing of the series. Prior to the two-hour finale, NBC aired “ER Retrospective,” featuring defining moments in the past 14 seasons as well as interviews with past and current cast members. The two-hour finale itself began with the same nurse waking Dr. Morris (Scott Grimes) up that woke Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) up at the beginning of the pilot episode, providing a circle story for the show. As with any other episode, the finale featured cases that impacted the doctors, as the cases connected to their own lives. Alexis Bledel came on as a cameo, playing a new intern for Dr. Brenner (David Lyons), displaying the theme of generation to generation. The past fused with the present, as Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) opened his pet project, the Joshua Carter Center, a medical practice providing services for the needy. The Center’s opening provided a reunion of Dr. Benton (Eriq La Salle), his son, Dr. Weaver (Laura Innes), Dr. Corday (Alex Kingston) and Dr. Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) with Dr. Carter. Dr. Greene’s daughter, Rachel, returned as a 22-year-old just starting med school, being shown around by Chaz Pratt (Sam Jones III), half-brother of Dr. Pratt (Mekhi Phifer). Memories of the whole cast from all 14 seasons were visible throughout the episode, as the doctors still faced similar pressures and the audience gained insight into their characters. There were several tear-jerker moments, as the beauty of life and the mystery of death pervaded the two-hour episode, keeping the spirit of an actual hospital.

The finale ended with the whole staff rushing out to meet the scurry of ambulances arriving with several burn victims, the camera focusing on each character for a few seconds, the audience’s last glimpse of them. As they dispersed, a couple of doctors to handle each ambulance, the camera zoomed out to show the whole hospital, including the subway that many doctors frequented to and from their shifts. ER‘s introduction music gradually drowned out the ambulance noises.  Although the plot of the show did not coincide with the show itself ending, the audience was still left with a sense that all loose ends were tied.

Throughout its 15 seasons, “ER” brought the epitome of medical dramas into the living rooms of millions.