Today there are hundreds of news articles, blog posts, and recaps all over the internet about the finale. My “dime a dozen” post won’t mean much to anyone except me. I’m writing anyway.
It ended last night. After 15 years of ups, downs, and everything in between, “ER” closed it’s proverbial doors and said good night. I openly admit that I cried during more than 50% of the 3 hour “ER” window last night.
I started watching “ER” in season one, and maybe missed only half or possibly one whole season during the 15 year run. I was remembering last night that I started watching the show because Michael Crichton was the creator. In high school, I was really into Crichton, reading everything of his I could get my hands on. When I heard he was attached to a television series, I was right there, on Thursday nights, ready to watch. I didn’t care who the actors were, I just wanted to see his genius at work.
And genius it was.
The show took the viewers places they had never been. Yes, we had been in an ER. Shows like “Trapper John, M.D.” and “St. Elsewhere” were both based on the idea of a teaching hospital, and there were probably numerous others with a similar concept. I vaguely remember seeing the shows. Of course, my mother was a fan of Knots Landing and Dallas, so our evenings were filled with the prime time soap opera antics of Larry Hagman and William Devane. Medical dramas weren’t really the thing in our house. However, “ER” was more than a medical drama. It was a soap opera, of sorts. It was a comedy, at times. It was heart wrenching and sappy and amazing. The show always made me cry, more than once a season, sometimes once a week. It moved me. And yes, even when it got too political for my liking, I still loved it.
“ER” has been part of my life for 15 years, and even though it is just a TV show, I will miss it. My Thursday nights have been an “event”, as “ER” writers always billed it. The writers weren’t afraid to shock us and make us angry. They were willing to push the envelope. They took us places we never thought we’d go. They toyed with our emotions. They created characters we hated, taught us to love them, and then cruelly took them away from us in explosions and helicopter crashes.
It was epic television, and they knew it. And now, that season of television is over.
Yes, there will be other shows that create “epic” television, but there will never be another “ER”.
I realized that the show has been on for half of my life. It has been the show I watched throughout so many different seasons of my own personal journey, and like a warm blanket, I let the show become the outlet for my tears and frustrations when I met them in my own life. Many of the tears I cried for “ER” over the years represented tears I couldn’t cry any place else. “ER” gave me an excuse to be vulnerable.
Perhaps that seems a little extreme to some, but, looking back, I realize how true it is.
So many of my favorite shows have ended in the past few years, and it feels like television is slipping into the background. It is becoming less “Must See” and more “Will Watch”. Now what will I do? I will probably watch something else that doesn’t move me quite like “ER” did. And I will probably like it. “ER” will disappear from the minds of television viewers the same as every other epic show has done. I’ll catch the occasional rerun, and perhaps buy a season or two, maybe all. Life will go on the same as it did when other shows have ended. This is not a tragedy. Still, let me mourn. Let me cry once more as the camera pans out and the ambulances come in, then I’ll be content to let the screen go black.