“ER” Needs Medical Attention

I know one reason why ER is slipping in the ratings…

It’s new episodes all feel like reruns. After nine years, or however long the show has been on, every single doctor in the E.R. has been a trauma patient. It’s become ridiculous. This week, they wheeled in not one, but two, critically injured doctors. How often can they play the “oh my god, the patient is Dr. Schmeckle!” beat? It’s bad enough when they play the “oh my god, the patient is Dr. Schmeckle’s brother!” (or mother, or girlfriend, or sister, etc. etc.)

But if that wasn’t bad enough, how many times can they do the “doctors trapped in rising water” bit? Ever since that terrific George Clooney episode in season one or two, they keep rehashing that plot, and variations of it, every season.

It’s time for E.R. to go in for an Extreme Make-Over. It’s become a tired, maudlin, uninspired soap opera… no wonder people are changing the channel.

8 thoughts on ““ER” Needs Medical Attention”

  1. Part of me agrees that it needs a makeover, a shot of new blood. On the other hand, I’ve been a faithful watcher since it premiered, and it really *has* gotten a makeover (Wyle is the only original cast member left, and he’s leaving at the end of this season), so I’m not even sure that will help.
    I think ER’s problem has been two things: one, the ridiculous “big” episodes they have with alarming frequency now. Explosions in the ER, gunfire in the ER, friggin helicopters falling on top of a major character (twice!). It’s the equivilent of having J Lo and Cher on Will and Grace week after week.
    Second, when you have a soap opera (and let’s face it, ER is a soap, when you get right down to it, even if you can watch individual episodes for the new patients that come in), you have to know what’s going on. Since old characters are gone, then old fans might not tune in as much anymore, and NEW fans aren’t turning in because the show has been on for 10 years so they’re not in any hurry to watch it now.
    Did that make any sense? I haven’t had any caffeine today yet, so maybe it’s a ramble.
    Now, let’s talk about The West Wing, and how that show jumped the shark after Sorkin left…

  2. You’re right. ER has become rather a bore to watch the past few years. Steps for a possible make over include:
    1. Film the show in the format of 24. One hour in the day for one show until you get 24, then you have one season in the can.
    2. Use the time-shifting techniques and flashback modes seen in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. I’m already confused when I watch an episode so why not change the narration style?
    3. Relocate the hospital to the green zone in Baghdad. You already get enough nutty, you-gotta-be-kidding-me storylines that you might as well make it more believable to the viewer.
    4. Retire the show. Even the British sci-fi show, Dr. Who, came to an end after eight actors played Dr. Who for 600 episodes. Oops. Spoke too soon. The BBC plans to bring back Dr. Who in 2005. (Is there a blog for the BBC?)
    Just some loose thoughts.
    Note: ER is actually in its 11th season.

  3. It jumped the shark BEFORE Sorkin left.
    Remember, it was Sorkin who had the President’s daughter kidnapped after her Eurotrash boyfriend slipped her ecstasy.
    ER didn’t start out as a soap opera. If you watch the first season, it went against all the medical show cliches. You didn’t stay with the patients. You didn’t learn about their lives. And it had an incredible pace. Now it embraces all the cliches it broke a decade ago. It’s no more cutting edge than a rerun of TRAPPER JOHN MD or MEDICAL CENTER.

  4. I disagree. I think ER has always been a soap, if a soap is defined by ongoing stories involving the main characters (sure, patients have come and gone, but I’m not talking about that), the changes that happen in their lives, etc. That’s what it has been since its debut in ’94. The same with Alias.
    And Sorkin: I’m not sure if I have the timeline right, but I think that Prez’s daughter being kidnapped storyline happened in his last couple of episodes, long after he knew he was leaving.

  5. Alias is a soap? (Yes, I agree. Heck, there’s one sitcom I watch that is painfully a soap disguised as a sitcom.)
    As to Sorkin: So he sabatosed the show because he knew he was leaving? Either way, that storyline happened on his watch and he’s to blame. If I were being fired, I’d want my last few episodes to be the best I could make them to prove how badly things declined after I left.


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