ER isn't worse, but it is different : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

Over the last few weeks, I've been confused by the many nay-sayers to ER as a quality drama. I've been watching since the second season, and to me, I'm still affected by it. I still enjoy it as much now as I did then. But I understand something a little better now.

I just finished watching the rerun Christmas episode from 1995, "A Miracle Happens Here" on TNT. And now I can put it into words. ER is not worse, but it is an entirely different show. It's a much more serious show, and it takes itself way too seriously, as do all the characters. We don't see the light-heartedness as a regular event, it's more like a brief glimmer when it happens. Granted, the storylines are devastatingly depressing now. But here's an example of what I mean:

In "A Miracle...", Benton has his first chance to do the "clamp-and-run" procedure from Vucelich's study. It's being timed, and speediness is of the essence. If this episode were to air this season, the background music would be tense. In 1995, the music was light, almost like a carnival, like he was just playing a game. Someone's life was at stake just the same, but the background music gave us Peter's view of it, in that he wanted to see how fast he could do it and make a good impression.

There were also the more obvious light-hearted moments of the ER Christmas party being moved spontaneously to Carol's new home, the surgical Christmas gathering causing Vucelich to not be able to perform another clamp-and-run because he's had a drink, a Jewish family celebrating Hanukkah in the lounge, and Carol carolling to recovery patients on her own until Doug bursts in with "12 tone-deaf doctors". Yes, there was drama. A priest was killed, Peter faced his first Christmas without his mother, an infant was taken and returned, but in between, we saw the warmth of a family of friends. That is what is missing in 2000. There is so much pain and angst that very little light and warmth can shine through. The mixture of dark and light is what made ER such an exceptional show. That's what I miss. And I didn't even realize it until I watched that rerun.

-- Ruthie (, December 18, 2000


I agree that it's a totally different show now. I think George Clooney and Julianna Marguiles brought some kind of chemistry to the show.

-- Jessie (, December 18, 2000.

Awesome points, Ruthie! You're so right--I miss the funny stuff. I guess it's hard to be lighthearted when you've got a brain tumor, are confused about your sexuality, have just given your baby up for adoption, are struggling with drug addiction, have a manic-depressive mother and no money to pay medical school tuition, your family was killed in a war... :)

-- Laura Lindstrom (, December 18, 2000.

Very true Ruthie. I don't think any of the past few episodes have ended on a happy note. Deb lying alone, baby-less on the Christmas epi, Abby crying by herself, Mark trying to be happy with the news of a baby while he's wondering if he'll live to see it's birth, etc. I haven't laughed out loud at the show since Mars Attacks...that was a good show. The characters never had this much trauma in their lives before. I know that's what happens to old shows, but it's SO depressing. THe episode you were talking about "A Miracle happens Here" would seem totally nutz now to see Abby or Chen or someone go up and burst out in song, to have the rest of the ER staff show up to sing along...that was great. And they all used to go to Doc Magoo's, now it's like they go in two's, and that's it. And Blizzard, they wouldn't dare put a cast on Carter as a joke now. These kind of silly things never happen anymore.

I know they're gone and over with, but I do miss Doug and Carol...their relationship w/ Mark, Carter, etc. I would have loved to see their reaction to Carter in rehab...I bet Doug would be one of the most supporting ones. And helping Mark through a tumor...these are all far off what if's, but they really did add to the show. It just doesn't have that spontanious, quirkiness that it used to.

-- Elaine (, December 18, 2000.

Remember the episode where it's so slow in the ER that Susan and Mark, out of boredom, put a cast on Carter's leg while he's asleep? I can't even picture any of the characters on the show doing this type of thing these days. Afterward, they gather the entire ER staff together to watch as they loudly page Carter on the intercom and watch him stumble through the door. It was classic, and hilarious. We need more of that again. ER is still compelling, but I miss the true comic moments.

-- Maureen S. (, December 18, 2000.

Too true, comic moments are few and far between. Dave is supposed to supply the comedy side but if you blink you'll miss him. I think him & Carter would be great together pulling pranks on people. Carter has a devious mind. I'm sure the two of them could put together lots of fun gags. I liked the one episode where Deb pages Carter and watches in hysteria as he falls down after running from the port-a-potty outside the er. He got back at her by taping a bunch of nails to his chest, taking an x-ray of himself then having the x-ray given to Deb who freaks out cause she thinks the x-ray belongs to her patient!

-- Laura (laurelc@wincom.netl), December 18, 2000.

Laura, those pranks between Carter and Deb were terrific! You're right, I could see them pulling a few practical jokes, and of course Dave, if he could get a little screen time. I guess it's not likely to happen unless the writers can lighten the mood a little, though.

-- Maureen S. (, December 19, 2000.

I miss that stuff too. But ever since the stabbings there has hardly been any fun there. It would not be a good idea to have fun right now anyway with the news about Mark. It would be like "Mark has cancer? Oh well, party time!" That would be a little inappropriate IMO. Not only that but I don't think Kerry would ever allow a party in the ER again after what happened. They could have a party somewhere else though. And as for the comic stuff, I wish they would have more of that. I think the comic stuff died when Doug left.

-- Cammie (, December 19, 2000.

I miss the good old days. I think the comedy died when Lucy died if you ask me. Yes, when DOug left so did some of the humor, but in season 6 before the tragedy there were pranks (Carter and Chen in "Family Practice" for example) and fooling around with each other. Maybe someday they'll get back to that. But let's leave it outside of the ER. We don't need another tragedy because they were partying.

-- Andie (, December 19, 2000.

Maureen -- That episode, "Blizzard," came on last night on TNT, and you're right, that is the kind of lightness and humor the show needs now. They were getting there with "Mars Attacks" but since then it has been gloomy. Blizzard was the first ep of ER I ever saw and I was hooekd as a result. I loved the quiet scenes at the beginning where there were no patients and the NURSES got a lot of screen time and that camraderie was still there. I still love the show, but it is a different show now, which happens after 7 years, no?

-- Larry B. (, December 19, 2000.

"Blizzard" is one of the eps that has no summary/review etc. What happened to the project of writing those for the old eps that don't have them?

-- Driad (, December 19, 2000.

An episode w/ Carter and Dave playing jokes on everyone would be hysterical and just what we need. I don't think it would be at all inappropriate. If they're all constantly thinking of Mark's tumor, or Carter's addiction, or Deb giving up her baby, or Abby's mother, or Luka's past, or Benton's nephew, they're all going to need therapy. They could play a joke on Benton and at first he could get all pissed but then play a joke back on them. Bonding at it's best. Then the whole ER staff could go over to Doc Magoo's. Benton and Carter could catch up, the nurses could have some lines, etc. Hey back in the days somehow it seemed they could all leave to go there together; who cares who's watching the ER! (remember Conni's surprise party there...they convinced her the chili, or something at Doc Magoo's would induce her labor; she finally went there and they were all there waiting for her...when was the last time a nurse had a plot?)

-- Elaine (, December 19, 2000.

Yeah, Benton could make a good target for practical jokes. Lighten him up a bit. Remember when they hired belly dancers for him and had them pose as patients w/ abdominal pain? I think Carter mistakenly thought it was Peter's birthday and hired the dancers. It would be a little difficult to have these things going on amidst all the tragedy, but that's why I think the writers need to lighten the general mood a bit.

-- Maureen S. (, December 19, 2000.

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