We Uncover a Problem in the ER

george clooney, er

It turns out that wrapping up a long-running television show isn’t nearly as hard as one might expect.

“You want to find the thing that people actually identify with in the series and do something that leaves them feeling satisfied for having spent X number of hours of their lives devoted to watching your ongoing narrative,” revealed ER showrunner John Wells in a recent interview with the LA Times.

Now if only Wells would expand his definition of “the thing that people identify with in the series” to cast members who are not named George Clooney.

How else to explain the fact that NBC let it ‘leak’ (here, here and here) that after nearly a decade, the venerable Dr. Ross will finally be scrubbing back into the ER (with special guest star Susan Sarandon to boot!?)

Now don’t get us wrong, we have nothing against a little original cast member appreciation per-se. We just can’t help but feel that all the hype surrounding Anthony Edwards’ recent return and George Clooney’s impending one quite frankly reeks of 3 cc’s of desperation.

ER in essence is making the exact same mistake that STAR TREK ENTERPRISE did when it ended its five-year run. After showrunners Rick Berman and Brannon Braga made the much-maligned decision to tell ENTERPRISE’s final mission through the eyes of original “NEXT GENERATION” cast members Commander Riker and Deanna Troi, one critic opined, “What a sad, sad ending to a series that was just starting to find it’s voice. What a slap in the face to the cast and the fans of ENTERPRISE. I can’t stop shaking my head in disbelief and the only conclusion I can come to is that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga have truly come to hate STAR TREK and its fans.”

And while we appreciate the gloom-and-doom business realities that NBC currently is facing — compounded with the fact that the peacock network has yet to meet a “special guest star” they couldn’t promote into the ground — we’re left asking: Where’s the love, respect and appreciation for the current crop of ER docs such as Linda Cardelleine, Scott Grimes, Parminder Nagra and John Stamos? You know, the ones that people actually identify with and have spent X number of hours of their lives devoted to watching.

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  • Ace

    First I have to admitt that I haven’t watched an episode of ER in over 5 years. But that said, I get where you are coming from. It is kind of a slap in the face to those who have stuck with the show that NBC is so very supportive of cast members coming back for one episode. BUT, let’s say you are someone that did watch every single episode of ER…wouldn’t you want to know what happened to Dr. Ross? Dr. Green, not so much b/c he died, so his story was pretty wrapped up. But I think I would want to know what Dr. Ross and Nurse Hathaway are up to these days. Just for nostalgia’s sake before the show disappears. And if promoting the heck out of George’s return gets more people to watch and gives NBC more money to pay for something to replace ER (OTHER than Jay Leno), then I say bravo.

  • Rae

    As someone who has watched ER for years, I can say that I’m not at all bothered by the press that Clooney’s return gets. The truth is that there are a people who will care about saying goodbye to Dr. Ross are no lnoger watching the show. Yes, it’s about ratings for NBC but it’s also about letting those people know this is their last chance to get a glimpse at a character they may have loved at one time.

    And, as a longtime fan of the show, I’m happy to get one last glimpse of these folks as well.

    Also, I think the current crop of folks get plenty of love and appreciation. They get the bulk of the stories even when we get a glimpse as someone from the past. And they’ve been slowly giving each of them moments to shine in this last season.

  • Linda B.

    Don’t even bring up Enterprise! I (like the critc you quoted) was so disappointed w/ how they ended the series.

  • Linda B,
    I’m so impressed you watched ENTERPRISE!

  • Like Ace, I haven’t watched ER in years. At first, I liked the fact that the show could survive cast changes, but it also felt diminished every time someone from the early season left. Plus, a few of the newer characters were annoying or unimpressive. I can understan the hype in getting one of its original stars, someone who has become a huge celebrity, back on the show before its finale. In fact, I think it would do it some good. I *might* even tune in for that episode.

    As for Star Trek: Enterprise… Slight nitpick, but it was on for only four years, not five. I looked forward to Enterprise and gave it a decent chance in the beginning but lost interest somewhere around late season 1 or early season 2. It felt almost completely lacking in inspiration or direction. Almost every plot was a re-tread. I heard of the show’s improvements in the final season and am slightly intrigued by them.

    When I watched Enterprise’s series finale, I didn’t think it was the travesty that the quoted reporter did, but I did think it was a mistake in logic to end the series with the Riker/Troi gimmick and that it was the culmination of continued mis-steps made along the way.

  • BLS

    Any storyline that takes screen time away from Sam/Linda C. is fine with me. She’s shrill, bossy, arrogant, and downright annoying. Move on, Tony, move on!

  • Kelly

    Anyone that hasnt watched ER in a long time cant comment because they havent devoted X amount of hours like the rest of us. I have watched every single hour of ER for 15 years and i am thrilled whenever they get someone from the past to come back (original cast or not). But i am very devoted to the original cast because they were the people that first opened me up to County General. I was almost in tears when DR. Green came back and i will probably have the same reaction towards DR. Ross. So NBC can promote it or not but it is a big deal to true fans of the show.

  • TVFan

    It’s a tough question, because as much as I am looking forward to the return of Dr. Ross, I do somewhat feel bad for the current stars of the show

  • Mina

    Truthfully…I never watched ER when george clooney and the rest of the “old” guest stars were on…I watch for Neela, Ray (not anymore though), Simon, etc…..

    That being said, I don’t mind George clooney coming back at all 🙂

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