Warner Bros. // 2002 // 976 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // October 1st, 2008
If you can't stand the heat...
I guess this makes ER a kitchen? Should we get out now? It's another installment of television's longest-running medical drama, now in its thirty-sixth season, ER: The Complete Ninth Season.
The emergency room in County General Hospital is the place where the crazy never stops in Chicago. Not even for a second. Floods of new patients, crumbing infrastructure and fractured personal lives all contribute to a very hectic working environment for the staff of County. ER: The Complete Ninth Season contains all 22 episodes from the show's ninth season, spread over six discs:
* "Chaos Theory": No admittance, no exit. Doctors inside the ER face a two-week quarantine. Meanwhile, an unexpected name to the list of evacuated patients: Dr. Robert Romano (Paul McCrane).
* "Dead Again": Sorry, no room for patients. The closure of another hospital in Chicago creates massive gridlock at County General. Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) overrides an experience cardiologist's judgment.
* "Insurrection": After a patient pulls out a weapon and points it at Chen's head, Carter leads an impromptu walkout of County to protest the lack of security and metal detectors.
* "Walk Like a Man": Gallant (Sharif Atkins) and Pratt come to blows, while Weaver makes some uncharacteristic errors. Carter (Noah Wyle) withdraws from Abby (Maura Tierney) because of her rapidly out-of-control drinking.
* "A Hopeless Wound": It's Halloween in the ER, and costumed victims pour in after an apartment fire. Romano's injury haunts his recall and his judgment, and new surgical intern Nathan (Don Cheadle) reports for work.
* "One Can Only Hope": Nathan goes above and beyond for a young woman, while Abby hopes the erratic behavior of her brother isn't a precursor to something more serious and hereditary.
* "Tell Me Where It Hurts": The plight of Abby's brother is looking grim after the MPs show up looking for him. Corday (Alex Kingston) admires Nathan's talent, but has her reservations about his capabilities. Weaver makes a surprising biological discovery.
* "First Snowfall": A DUI motorist lays ways to a family building a snowman, and a father makes heart-rending decisions. Abby visits her brother at a Nebraska military base.
* "Next Of Kin": Abby's brother pushes her away, while Pratt tries his best to protect Leon. A child with a double life doesn't want to see his mother after his own father passes away.
* "Hindsight": An accident involving Kovac (Goran Visnjic) gets told in reverse. Merry Christmas.
* "A Little Help From My Friends": Pratt sets off the new metal detector. It turns out they're very good at detecting (who guessed it) weapons. Weaver faces a medical crisis as math students OD on Ritalin.
* "A Saint In The City": Leon gets a new job as a trash collector at County General, while Carter strikes up a friendship with a crusty old doctor who runs an urban clinic.
* "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished": Pratt brings in a young street thug shot in a holdup and starts spinning webs of lies. A doctor asks Corday for a date, while Abby attempts a reunion with her brother. Carter considers a change of scenery -- and continent.
* "No Strings Attached": Weaver gets promoted, while Romano gets demoted. Ouch. Chen and Pratt take their relationship to the next level. Abby crashes right off the wagon.
* "A Boy Falling Out of the Sky": Her brother missing and her mother making demands, Abby has more on her plate than she can handle. Pratt misdiagnoses a homeless man as dead. He proves him wrong by coming to life.
* "A Thousand Cranes": A robbery-homicide has traumatic effect on the ER staff as Pratt and Gallant are apprehended as suspects due to their race.
* "The Advocate": Weaver gets the promotion of her dreams, but in doing so compromises her ethics.
* "Finders Keepers": Romano terrorizes the ER after his demotion, and Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) deals with a post-Vegas hangover.
* "Things Change": Kovac's surgical friend from Croatia arrives to observe conditions in the ER...bad time for Romano to be a jerk. It's also a bad time for a patient to be on the loose.
* "Foreign Affairs": Kovac scrambles to perform surgery on an ill Croatian boy and breaks all the rules in the book. Abby's brother disrupts a funeral. Romano makes a life-altering decision.
* "When Night Meets Day": Time goes crazy again as we follow Carter on the day shift and Pratt on the night shift.
* "Kisangi": Carter journeys to Africa to volunteer with Kovac in a war-torn hospital and both experience life outside of the ER. At least you don't need a jacket.
In Season Nine, professional and personal lives clash more fiercely than ever. Well, kind of. It's not like the last eight seasons of the critically acclaimed serial drama have been particularly low-key or mellow. Far from it; if television is to be believed, it is near-impossible to go to work in an emergency room in Chicago without being spit on, stabbed, blown up, fired, or assaulted. That covers the co-workers, which is to say nothing of the actual patients.
It's hard to suggest new people start off on their emergency room adventures here in Season Nine, but if they did, they'd find the same old show rolling along. The series is nothing if not stoic in its predictable offering of gritty, handheld medical drama woven into annoyingly complicated personal relationships, troubled childhoods, and character defects. As TV dramas go, ER will bow off the air as one of the all-time greats, and Season Nine can easily be regarded as a good -- not great -- all-around season. There are some nice guest stars (Don Cheadle), some chronological manipulation ("Hindsight," "When Night Meets Day"), and some truly mesmerizing moments of drama, not to mention a whole lot of bellyaching on the part of the ever-growing cast. Season Nine stretches its attention span to the limit, trying to give its ever-ballooning cast equal attention with moderate success.
Probably the most notable (aggravating, infuriating, maddening, satisfying) moment in Season Nine is the comeuppance of Romano in the opening episode; a bizarre, freakishly inexplicable twist that serves no purpose than to completely shaft over a complexly disliked character. Sure, Dr. Weaver might be a terror in the ER, but Romano is like the King of Jerks, the all-ruling master from which all jerks spring unceremoniously from his tiny, withered loins. I'm honestly not sure what prompted the writers to try this particular narrative thrust out, but it sure makes for interesting television and an entire seasons worth of griping, angst, and drama. And, oh, what incredible comeuppance Romano gets. I won't spoil it for you guys, but rest assured: he won't be doing any more arm to anyone else.
Wait, did I say arm? I meant -- oh, never mind.
As outrageously absurd as that particular plot twist may be, there are plenty of others to keep viewers occupied in this season. We come swinging right out of a smallpox scare into every possible personal crisis, with Weaver advancing up the corporate ladder and getting herself all maternal. Dr. Kovac's sex addictions begin to run wild all over his personal life, and Abby deals with the mental decline of her brother. Dr. Corday tries to return home to London, still grieving over the loss of Mark Greene (back in Season Eight). Pratt continues to be a giant jerk, and things between Carter and Abby go up and down and end up in Africa, of all places. The pace is pretty relentless, but hey, that's ER. You either love it or you hate it, and considering the show's been on since the Carter administration, I'd say people love it.
Technically, this set is near-identical to its predecessors: anamorphic transfer, stereo sound, same lame supplemental features (outtakes and gag scenes). Colors are nicely saturated; primary colors in particular are vibrant, whites are clean and blacks are balanced well.
An ER expert I'm not, but things seem pretty heavy handed this season. Problem is, this is the exact same complaint I had back in ER: The Complete Sixth Season, and things have not calmed down one whit. The plot twists are large, gigantic, and tectonic plate-sized. It only gets worse with every passing season, the show seemingly desperate to top its own lunacy.
At times, this escalated drama smacks of either desperation or boredom on the part of the writers. Methinks the latter. There's nothing like some completely outrageousness to shake things up in the ER...but a little of this goes a long way. I could use a quiet day at the hospital to recuperate.
In the first episode this season, a minor character down on his luck talks about how he used to be a teacher. When asked by the doctors how he came to be in his current state, he answers mournfully, "Things. Things happened. Things always happen." If ever there was a mantra for ER, this is it.
Love it or hate it, ER is a televised force to be reckoned with, a nonstop assault of medical jargon, fast-paced action, and complex emotional trauma that whisks audiences up and away like a tornado. Fans know exactly what to expect with ER: The Complete Ninth Season, because they've been feeding off on it for the last eight seasons.
The ER might be closing this season, but ER: The Complete Ninth Season is still preserved on DVD, sterilized for your safety.
Review content copyright © 2008 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 976 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Outpatient Outtakes" Unaired Scenes
* "Cutups" Gag Reel