Long running series ER finally departs Australian screens this week after 15 seasons, the longest running primetime medical drama in the US.
The NBC series received 24 Emmy nominations, more than any television show in history. It won 23.
The ER phenomenon started as a dusty, 20-year-old, 150-page screenplay that “Jurassic Park” author Michael Crichton had written based on his own experiences as a medical resident in a busy ER.
Producer Warren Littlefield recalled its genesis.
“We were intrigued,” he told the Hollywood Reporter, “but we were admittedly a bit spooked in attempting to go back into that territory a few years after St. Elsewhere, one of the great dramas in the history of the medium, had left our air. Here we had this screenplay from a very hot author that was very long and dusty and all over the place. And yet at its core there was something quite remarkable about it. There were all of these heroic characters who were very flawed. There was a density to it that was dizzying, But it was memorable.”
Across its life there were numerous TV moments: In Season 1 the County General was faced with a massive highway pile-up; the worst day of Mark Greene’s career when the mother dies from preeclampsia; Jeanie Boulet discovers she has HIV; Doug Ross rescues a boy trapped in a storm drain; Mark and Doug on a road trip to pick up the remains of Doug’s dead, estranged father; a journey into the Congo as Carter tries to recover what he thinks is the body of Luka; the entire hospital racing to save the lives of Lucy and Carter; Doug and Carol Hathaway trapped in an elevator with a dying girl; Ray Liotta plays a dying alcoholic looking back on a lifetime of mistakes; the romance between George Clooney and Julianna Margulies; Benton and Carter’s mentor/protege relationship; a live episode in 1997 and guest stars including Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Rebecca De Mornay, Kirsten Dunst, Sally Field, Hal Holbrook, Bob Newhart, Cynthia Nixon, Stanley Tucci, Forrest Whitaker and James Woods.
The finale airs as a double episode on GO! at 9:35pm Thursday night.