Archive for the ‘Disease of the week’ Category

E.R. Season 15 – *(*)

Posted: December 12, 2014 in 2009, Disease of the week, Drama, USA, X1/2

Last season.

Really not the best.

Not even the cameo’s of former cast members are good.

Badly scripted and acted as if they all wanted it to end.


If you’re a sixteen year old boy and you want to score on your first date, you take your possible girlfriend to The Fault In Our Stars¬†and shed a tear or two at the end. A guaranteed score! You¬†most likely won’t have to pretend, because¬†it IS a sad story and the acting of the characters is touching. However, it’s still a (young adult) chick flick filled with a lot of obvious clich√©s.

It does have its merits though. It’s an indie movie for the masses, with an indie soundtrack of course and two unknown, average but good-looking leads who aren’t quite the antiheroes the director would love them to be, but still deliver. The ‘original’ aspect of this romantic teen drama is the fact that both are cancer patients. They share the same experiences and emotions. It makes them bond. They meet in a council group and start hanging out, discussing life (and death) and go on an adventure that will bring them even closer.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter so much that they are sick. It’s really just a story about a boy and girl who meet and fall¬†in love. And that just isn’t enough for a great movie. They meet, fall in love and stay in love. Boring! Okay, it’s based on a popular novel written for young people and the producers didn’t want to change too much to the story, but as an adult you kind of expect more sarcasm, more frustration, more doubts and less cheesiness. And the adventure is just a promo clip for the specific destination.

I have lost two dear friends to cancer, yet this story didn’t touch me as much as I hoped it would. I blame the age. It’s sad really, because it’s not a bad movie at all.

This is good television. Too much focus on the love affairs between the doctors, nurses and even patients. But still entertaining. Not every episode is great. The ones with Forest Whitaker are a drag and the wedding special leads to a huge yawn as well. But there’s always Sam, the incredible¬†Linda Cardellini, who steals every scene she’s in!


It took a bit longer to finish Season 12 after having re-started watching E.R.¬†Some story lines really suck, several new characters are incredibly annoying (Dr Clemente for instance) and it just often feels like the producers have no idea which direction they want to head with this show. There isn’t one single episode that really captivates. And there are plenty that are just less than mediocre.

It’s not all bad though. It’s quite daring to¬†focus an entire episode on Dr Pratt and Dr Carter working at some refuge camp in Darfur. There seems to be more humor than in the previous season, which is a relief. There are still enough moral dilemmas that are brought to the mainstream’s attention. And the cliffhanger finale is quite shocking.

But most of the stories are boring and futile. And a lot of the acting is superficial and stereotypical. Maybe Season 13 is better again.

As I was watching Dallas Buyers Club I kept thinking how this career change for Matthew McConaughey happened. Was he fed up of playing the lead in romantic comedies? Or didn’t he get cast anymore in the kind of movies that made him big and did the change happen out of necessity?¬† Whatever reason there might have been, it worked. He jumped on the indie/arthouse wagon and has delivered solid performances ever since. I’ve seen more of his movies in the past year than in the past two decades. It’s still Matthew McConaughey though, unable to speak proper English. His nasal Southern/Texan accent remains annoying and I really hope his next role will be that of a New Englander. If he can pull that off, he really deserves an Oscar.

A few weeks ago, he got his first Academy Award for portraying a homophobic rodeo-rider/electrician who is diagnosed with HIV and decides to smuggle and sell illegal medicine to fellow patients. Apart from losing 40 kilo for the part, he also succeeds in being convincing as a low life trailer trash hustler. This guy feels real. It’s still Matthew McConaughey, but this time he’s a real person. Did he deserve to win? Sure. But in this crazy world of acting competition, there were better performances in his category. He’s not the first to lose weight for a part (remember Christian Bale and even 50 Cent?), but he brings his dying patient amazingly to life!

Another statue was given to Jared Leto, who plays some kind of transvestite/transsexual who helps deliver the drugs to other users. It’s an intriguing character and Leto does it well, but it all feels too premeditated.¬† As if the producers and Leto sat around the table and discussed how they could get him an Oscar nomination and put him back in the acting market. He left the industry a few years ago to focus on his megalomaniac rock band 30 Seconds To Mars. Hopefully this recognition will make him realize that he should stick with what he’s good at: acting. ¬†He’s very convincing as well.

Both have made this movie quite successful. Their brilliant contribution to this indie blockbuster makes the rest of the cast look dumb. One of them is ‘doctor’ Jennifer Garner who treats HIV patients and is reluctant to use the only approved drug (AZT). She looks like she has no clue what is going on, like she arrived on the set and had 1 minute to prepare her scene. It’s really bad. Then there are all the other stereotypes ranging from homophobic cowboys to effeminate gays to profit eyeing pharmaceutical experts and self-centred doctors. That’s not necessarily bad, but the people who interpret them add nothing extra to their characters.

The story on the other hand is intriguing and may be confronting for a lot of people who didn’t pay attention while it was happening back in the eighties or for those who have no idea how terrifying this virus was when it first claimed victims. I learned more in the special Aids History exhibit at the NY City Museum last year than in this movie, but many will learn about this for the very first time. Aids is still very much a problem in the gay community, but its devastation is now more visible amongst the straight people on the African continent. There is still no cure though. And we are 30 years later.

Watching a season of E.R. as preparation to a First Aid course does wonders! It really does. Sure, you hear all kinds of medical terminology that you will never use. But they do show a lot of simple and basic techniques that can help in a case of emergency.

Of course, the First Aid course was just an excuse to start watching E.R. again. Especially if the dvd box of Season 11 only cost 5 euro.

There was a time when the show was incredibly popular both in the US and other parts of the world. Many a viewer of the George Clooney episodes may not realize that this series lasted a record 15 years. At least for those viewers who live in countries where the show got shifted from a main network to a niche channel.

Season Eleven feels like a new start. Almost like a spin off. It takes a few episodes to get to know all the new characters, especially if you haven’t watched any of the previous 5 seasons. Sure, you miss the familiar faces, but it doesn’t matter. It also does not feel outdated at all. First shown in 2006, and still quite realistic in 2014.

This really isn’t the bad season people claim it to be. Some episodes are really captivating and well directed. Each episode is an entity on its own, sometimes focussing on one theme only. It’s quite frustrating to care for a certain patient and then never hear how his or her story ends. But that’s what makes E.R. quite interesting. In the end, the staff also don’t learn what happened to the patients after they left the hospital.¬†¬†The acting is overall pleasant. And it’s in fact the new comers who steal the show.

A great re-introduction and hopefully the other seasons are still in the (second hand) store

The worst episode: Time Of Death (for which Ray Liotta won awards!)

The best episode: Alone In A Crowd (with Cynthia Nixon suffering from a stroke)

Everyone keeps telling me I should watch House, just because I like cynical, sarcastic assholes who¬†excel¬†in their job. At least that’s how my character would be like if I ever were to write a¬†tv¬†series about my experiences in the river cruise industry.

But, this is such a boring show! Don’t get me wrong,¬†Hugh Laurie is excellent and I love his remarks and quotes. But the rest of the show is boring. The three assistants who challenge his authority are boring. The quest to find a cure for an extremely rare disease/condition gets boring too. I watched eight episodes and each of them had the same set up. They also all had those annoying close up camera ‘rides’ into the human body showing how muscles, glands, veins and other body act and react to exterior elements like medication, viruses, bacteria, etc..

I may watch the other episodes of hat first season. I might stop and watch an episode of a future season if I am bored in a hotel room somewhere, but I was not impressed by the first eight. What a disappointment.