A highly popular, well-reviewed and influential ensemble drama, "E.R." still stands as one of (few) remaining quality television programs on-air as it nearly reaches its 14th year. The show was created by author Michael Crichton, who graduated from Harvard Medical School and spent time at Massachusetts General Hospital. Apparently, the concept of the show met with skepticism from NBC, but came around after Crichton worked with Spielberg (another of the show's producers) on "Jurassic Park". The show, which continues to pull strong ratings despite competition from other new dramatic fare, deals with doctors in an ER in Chicago. During each hour-long episode, the multi-layered stories deal with both the relationships - personal and professional - of the doctors, as well as the stories of the incoming patients. The show does a superior job balancing the pain, tragegy, emotion and drama with hope and the occasional hint or two of humor.
By the fifth season of the series, the characters had had time to develop and grow and the relationships between characters became stronger and more well-defined. The cast had great chemistry from the first episode, but by this point, the ensemble had clicked into place even more tightly. Even with the departure of George Clooney after this season (his Dr. Ross makes a risky choice to help a young patient in "Double Blind" and it ends up resulting in his resignation in the two-parter, "The Storm"), the series still pushed forward on the strength of its writing and ensemble (which added a few new faces in the sixth season, with Maura Tierney, Goran Visnjic and Ming-Na joining the cast.) Shortly after Ross leaves, Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) finds out that she's pregnant with Ross' baby.
The sixth season of "E.R." saw the show go through a series of cast changes - while some cast members continued their roles, some newer cast members were brought forward and additional cast members joined the show in major roles. The biggest change would be the departure of George Clooney, who was essentially replaced by Goran Visnjic, who plays Luka Kovac, a new physician who first appears in the season opener. Visnjic still remains on the series as does the underrated Maura Tierny, whose Dr. Abby Lockhart first appears in this season, as well.
Season seven picks up where the previous season ended, with Carter returning from rehab, only to find himself in the midst of turmoil while trying to stay sober - with Abby agreeing to be his AA sponsor ("Sand and Water"). Green and Corday (Anthony Edwards and Alex Kington) finally decide to get engaged, only to have Greene soon find out tragic news about his future in the same episode where Corday finds out surprising news about hers.
Abby also finds herself taking care of her manic-depressive mother (Sally Field, in an impressive performance), when she arrives to see her daughter after having stopped taking her medication. Weaver (Laura Innes) also reveals her sexuality in the final episode. The performances remain as strong as ever in this seventh season, as Edwards provides a powerful performance as he tries to cope with terrible news. Tierney is marvelous as Abby, and proves in her role on the series that she's just as capable of drama as comedy. Sally Field and James Cromwell (as a dying bishop) are also memorable in guest star roles.
136. 7- 1 226251 12 Oct 00 Homecoming
- A custodian strike creates chaos. More chaos occurs when high school footballers fight in the ER. Corday and Greene return with poison ivy and Carter departs rehab.
137. 7- 2 226252 19 Oct 00 Sand and Water
- Carter agrees to return to County General and Corday and Greene agree to be engaged.
138. 7- 3 226253 26 Oct 00 Mars Attacks
- Weaver limits Carter's tasks, Kovac needs Abby to do procedures she's not cleared to do. Benton learns that Romano bounced him and injuries from a sci-fi convention arrive.
139. 7- 4 226254 2 Nov 00 Benton Backwards
- Romano offers a per-diem position to Benton, who is forced to accept. Kovac lethally beats a mugger.
140. 7- 5 226255 9 Nov 00 Flight of Fancy
- The tragedy of teens diagnosed with HIV is compounded by a fatal accident. A med-emergency flight is followed by the patient's wedding in the ER.
141. 7- 6 226256 16 Nov 00 The Visit
- Abby's manic-depressive mother arrives and Benton tries to save the life of his nephew. Chen decides to give her baby up for adoption.
142. 7- 7 226257 23 Nov 00 Rescue Me
- Thanksgiving. Maggie won't leave unless Abby talks to her, Greene gets horrible news and Corday finds out a surprise.
143. 7- 8 226258 7 Dec 00 The Dance We Do
- Corday lies at her deposition, Greene reveals his illness and an increasingly unstable Maggie leaves town.
144. 7- 9 226259 14 Dec 00 The Greatest of Gifts
- Chen gives birth, while Corday and Greene find hope in NYC. Carter nearly relapses with a bottle of vicodin.
145. 7-10 226260 4 Jan 01 Piece of Mind
- Greene's new surgery puts him in the place of a patient and gives him a new perspective. A tragic accident brings a son and father into the E.R.
146. 7-11 226261 11 Jan 01 Rock, Paper, Scissors
- An unexpected settlement ends the malpractice suit, but an encounter with the plaintiff shatters Corday's confidence. Elsewhere, Kovac harshly treats a dying DUI patient, while Benton seeks foster care.
147. 7-12 226262 1 Feb 01 Surrender
- Benton gets a pay boost he needs and a position he doesn't want. Weaver realizes that a by-the-book decision lead to tragic results.
148. 7-13 226263 8 Feb 01 Thy Will Be Done
- A 16-year-old does not want a third heart transplant and Kovac cannot override the decision of the parents. However, he can help a bishop die with dignity.
149. 7-14 226264 15 Feb 01 A Walk in the Woods
- Greene undergoes tests, while Bishop Stewart faces his end.
150. 7-15 226265 22 Feb 01 The Crossing
- The ER heads to the scene of a train derailment to try and save passengers.
151. 7-16 226266 1 Mar 01 Witch Hunt
- Weaver may be outed, while an infant Abby was caring for is missing.
152. 7-17 226267 29 Mar 01 Survival of the Fittest
- A busload of kids sickened by fumes is triaged. The ER becomes a crime scene after a woman with dementia is shot. Corday finishes a surgery, then heads for maternity leave.
153. 7-18 226268 19 Apr 01 April Showers
- Corday and Greene get married. After a nightmarish day, Greene arrives at the church via ambulance.
154. 7-19 226269 26 Apr 01 Sailing Away
- Maggie is found outside Tulsa and Carter joins Abby on a road trip to bring the mentally ill woman home to Chicago. Benton treats an old teacher and Corday gives birth.
155. 7-20 226270 3 May 01 Fear of Commitment
- Maggie's future must be decided by a judge. A reluctant father-to-be uses herbs so his wife will miscarry.
156. 7-21 226271 10 May 01 Where the Heart Is
- Greene refuses to let a battered boy return home, placing him in foster care, which sends the father into a fury.
157. 7-22 226272 17 May 01 Rampage
- The enraged father whose child was put into foster care goes on a shooting spree, leading Greene to realize that is coming closer and closer to home.
VIDEO: One of the first shows that was shot/broadcast in widescreen, "ER" is presented here in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation is, once again, largely excellent. Sharpness and detail are terrific, and the picture appears pretty consistently crisp and clear, with only a couple of minor instances of softness.
A little bit of shimmering was spotted, but otherwise, the picture appeared crisp and clear, with no specks, marks or other faults. No pixelation was seen, either. Colors looked accurately presented, with no smearing or other flaws. Black level appeared solid, while flesh tones looked accurate.
SOUND: The 2.0 soundtracks provide fine audio quality, with no hiss, distortion or other faults. Dialogue remained crisp and clear throughout, as did music and sound effects.
EXTRAS: Many episodes included deleted scenes. An amusing (surprising, considering the tone of the series) gag reel is also included.
Final Thoughts: "ER"'s seventh season gets a terrific presentation with this set, which offers excellent image quality, fine audio and a nice helping of supplements. Definitely recommended for fans of the series.