Air Dates: September 19, 1994 – April 2, 2009
Stars: Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Noah Wyle, Sherry Stringfield, Eriq Las Salle, Gloria Reuben, Laura Innes, Maria Bello, Alex Kingston, Kellie Martin, Paul McCrane, Goran Visnjic, Michael Michele, Erik Palladino, John Stamos, Linda Cardellini, Parminder Nagra, Shane West, Scott Grimes, Angela Bassett, Mekhi Phifer, Ming-Na
ER has replaced St. Elsewhere as the gold standard for medical dramas on TV, and will probably hold that position for years to come. With 124 Emmy nominations, it is the most nominated drama in the history of the award. Based on creator Michael Crichton's (yeah, Mr. Jurassic Park) experiences working in a emergency room, ER brought unprecedented realism to the hospital drama.
The blood shone brightly under the harsh fluorescents. The good-looking cast had the serious look one gets wielding a scalpel near human flesh down pat. (They also knew how to joke when the emergencies had passed, but it was always with a dourness that made shows like Scrubs look too goofy for words.) ER was the perfect reflection of the layman's reaction to a hospital, but with a greater degree of verisimilitude than viewers realized they wanted.
As is the case with so many of the great TV shows, the characters kept things together. To the show's credit, the rotating cast maintained high levels of consistency. Latecomers like Mekhi Phifer were just as captivating as earlier characters viewers fell in love with. For a series with 331 episodes to its name, that is a herculean accomplishment. —RS