The fourteenth season of ER, now available to own on DVD from Warner Home Video, delivered all the drama that fans came to expect from the perennial Emmy winning medical show. The DVD set includes some limited but satisfying extras and an excellent video transfer that makes the set a must-buy for fans.
Overall Grade: B+
Show Grade: A+
Video Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Special Features Grade: C
DVD Set Details:
5 DVD Set, 19 episodes. Anamorphic video (for widescreen TVs) and Dolby Digital sound. DVD case insert booklet contains full episode list with summaries, writer and director credits, and original television airdate.
Special Features: Outpatient Outtakes (Deleted Scenes) available on 13 of 19 episodes; Paley Center for Media Q&A with cast and crew (Disc 5); Gag Reel (Disc 5).
Here's the official synopsis:
At an ER party, Nurse Chuny Marquez recalls, “I still remember when Mark Green and Doug Ross were running the place.” “Who?” asks a newcomer. So much has happened in 14 seasons, so many people have come and gone, but the chaos of saving lives and the dedication of the people who make County General run remain. In this penultimate season of the powerful, award-winning series, personal tragedies threaten – and sometimes strengthen – relationships among the staff. And the patients bring their own compelling stories. A boy genius diagnoses his mysterious illness, a cancer-ridden prison doctor is haunted by the men he put to death, a woman arrives in the ER expecting her 13th baby. Triumph, loss, tears, joy…next!
Anyone who was watched ER with any regularity knows the obvious: it was not only the best medical drama on television, it was one of the best shows on TV, period. As season 14 opens, the original cast is long gone, but the show remains highly entertaining, thanks to a solid ensemble cast and great writing that manages to stay fresh and relevant after all these years.
I am not a devoted fan of ER, or medical shows in general, and I had only seen a handful of Season 14 episodes. I must admit, however, that I found watching these episodes riveting, moving, and entertaining. After finishing one episode, I was ready to dive into another, but be warned: watching too many at one time will leave you emotionally exhausted.
Goran Visnjic (Luka) and Maura Tierney (Abby) are the show's heart and soul, as their personal lives often take center stage this season. Mekhi Phifer (Pratt), John Stamos (Tony), and Parminder Nagra (Neela) all had great moments in a season that celebrated the show's milestone 300th episode.
The season begins with Neela nearly dying as the result of the events in the previous season's finale, and ends with a cliffhanger that leaves the fate of another cast member in doubt. In between, a number of important character arcs played out, and many episodes, in true ER style, were elevated by some outstanding performances by guest stars, including Stanley Tucci, Peter Fonda, and Reiko Aylesworth. Hal Holbrook and Steve Buscemi have great roles in the season finale.
The standard DVD set gets all the basics done right. Video is crisp and clear, and even though it isn't HD, it looked perfectly fine on my Samsung 47 inch HDTV. There was a little grain visible in the image, but it didn't detract from the presentation at all.
Audio is Dolby Digital, and while it is mixed well, it isn't totally immersive. This is a TV show after all, so I wasn't expecting a six-channel audio-fest. For what it is, it gets the job done.
The case makes DVD removal easy, and comes packed inside a slip cover. Nothing flashy, but it is far better than case holders that overlap DVDs on the leaves, meaning you sometimes have to remove a couple to get the one you want. I hate those.
The enclosed booklet is a nice reference tool. I usually end up wanting to look up a particular episode (so I can know which disc to pull out) or see when it aired, and the booklet provides both.
The special features aren't exactly plentiful, but what is provided is nicely done. The Paley Center for Media often holds tribute/Q&A sessions on TV's most acclaimed shows, and this particular tribute focuses on the 300th episode. There were some nice moments from the cast in this feature that fans will enjoy.
Deleted scenes, called "Outpatient Outtakes," are included on 13 of the 19 episodes. They are accessible in a separate menu or by clicking the pair of scissors by each episode title in the menu, a nice little option.
The gag reel, usually a skimpy selection of outtakes on most DVD sets, is a whopping 15 minutes in this set. It's basically the cast tripping over medical jargon, but it is fun to watch. I do wish there were more special features included, especially behind-the-scenes content. For a show like ER, seeing how it is made is probably as entertaining as the show itself.
Buy it, Rent it, or Netflix it?
If you're fan of ER or just good episodic TV, this is a no-brainer: it's a must buy. Even if you're not a fan, you'll want to revisit these episodes. It deserves at least a rent. There are some solid performances here, and some truly moving episodes that will stay with you. ER the complete 14th season is out on store shelves right now for purchase, or you can go to the WB Shop and purchase it direct from them.
For more information on ER or other Warner Brothers television shows on DVD, visit wbtvondvd.com.