ER TV series


1994 - United States

ER first hit the television screens with all the speed and force of an express train in 1994, and immediately earned the label of 'rock 'em - sock 'em' television, hardly giving the viewer a chance to catch breath as each story-line unfolded. 

The pilot episode alone threw together no less than 45 medical scenarios. Set in the main, within the emergency department of the Cook County General Hospital in Chicago, the Emmy award winning ER (Emergency Room) is a basically traditional; yet at times almost nail bitingly intense technically jargoned medical drama series. The series was the creation of Michael Jurassic Park Crichton, developed from his unmade 1974 movie script at the behest of Steven Spielberg's Amblin television company. A doctor himself, Crichton patterned the basic events of ER's adrenaline pounding frenetically charged action upon his own experiences as a young medical student at Massachusetts General Hospital. Boasting an exceptionally talented ensemble of actors, the show depicts the everyday trials, tribulations and moral dilemmas confronting the group of dedicated doctors and nursing staff as they attempt to save lives whilst maintaining a sometimes precarious balance in their own tumultuous personal existences.

Shot throughout with a nice line in wry sardonic humour, the series treads the fine line between the larger scale, serious contemporary medical issues and the smaller, more intimate, yet no less important personal joys and sorrows of the central characters. Thanks to the consistent excellence of the writing and committed skill of the actors, the series has been able to survive the potentially damaging loss of crucial audience favourites such as George Clooney's Dr. Doug Ross, and more recently Julianna Margulies immensely popular Head Nurse Carol Hathaway, whilst continuing to score in the ratings by the successful integration of new, well-rounded and appealing replacement characters to offset the departures. Of the remaining original core cast is the trio of Anthony Edwards' sensitive, caring, chief resident, Dr. Mark Greene, Eriq LaSalle as brusque and driven surgeon Peter Benton; and arguably, most importantly of all Noah Wyle as the young, talented and immensely likeable Dr. John Carter, evolving believably from a wide-eyed, eager to please innocent at the show's beginning, to his eventual status as a skilled but deeply troubled veteran. 

The viewers over the course of the series grew and matured along with the Carter character, essentially seeing the multi-layered unfolding dramas almost from his perspective as he himself has matured in his professional abilities. In turns emotive, thoughtful, frenetic and powerful, ER is a superbly produced and directed (attracting the likes of Quentin Tarantino), well written, and performed example of the US televisual love affair with the field of medicine at its consummate finest.

Published on December 10th, 2018. Review: SRH.

Read Next...

Ellen TV series

US sitcom starring Ellen DeGeneres

Also released in 1994

Drama based at the fictitious St Angela's Hospital in London. 'Angels' was dubbed the 'Z-Cars' of nursing by some critics due to its authentic semi-documentary approach.

Also tagged Medical Drama

Cadfael TV Series

Period murder mystery series set around a Benedictine Abbey in Shrewsbury in 12th century England. Here resides Brother Cadfael, a former Crusader, a skilled observer of human nature, whose talents are called upon to investigate the most intriguing and murderous crimes.

Also released in 1994

Dr. Kildare

At Blair General Hospital a young intern has to learn to deal with his surgeon mentor.

Also tagged Medical Drama


Historical drama starring Sean Bean in the adventures of a soldier during the later years of the Napoleonic Wars, through Wellington's Peninsular campaign up to and including Waterloo.

Also released in 1994


"Arguably one of the last great television phenomenon's of the last century."

Also released in 1994

Vicar of Dibley

Sitcom set in the fictional village of Dibley, which is assigned a female vicar, much to the consternation of the Chairman of the Parish Council.

Also released in 1994

Ben Casey

Unlike the almost saintly portrayal of doctors in other medical series, doctor Ben Casey was shown as a tough rebel who was ready to flaunt the rules if it was in his patient's interest.

Also tagged Medical Drama

The Practise

Twice weekly series set round a modern health centre

Also tagged Medical Drama