Written by Senora Bicho
ER ended its 15-year run in April 2009. I was a huge fan from the initial episode but lost interest after several key characters left the show. It just wasn’t the same without George Clooney, Anthony Edwards, and Eriq La Salle. Season 11 aired from 2004-1005 and saw a drop in the ratings from #8 to #16. While not stellar in the ratings, it did offer pivotal storylines, great acting, and intense drama.
Abby Lockheart (Maura Tierney) is forced to make the transition from nurse to doctor quickly after earning her M.D. at the end of Season 10. Neela Kaur Rasgotra (Parminder Nagra) is also a new graduate. She turned down an internship at the hospital due to an identity crisis. Dr. Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) recently promoted to Chief of Emergency Medicine convinces her to come back. Dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle) and his girlfriend Kem (Thandie Newton) are struggling to stay together after the death of their baby. Dr. Luka Kova? (Goran Visnjic) chases after girlfriend Nurse Samantha Taggart (Linda Cardellini) and her son who is on the run from her ex-husband. He manages to talk her into coming back and they eventually move in together. This season provides plenty of ups and downs for all of the characters along with challenging and profoundly influential patients.
In addition to all of the drama, there are some major casting changes. Shane West from Once and Again and A Walk to Remember joins the cast as Dr. Ray Barnett, an intern by day and rock star by night. Dr. Michael Gallant (Sharif Atkins) who left the series after three seasons for a tour of duty in Iraq makes a short return. Dr. Elizabeth Corday (Alex Kingston) and Dr. Jing-Mei Chen (Ming-Na) leave the show after eight and six seasons, respectively. The biggest and most impactful change is the farewell of original cast member Wyle in the finale.
The season had a number of well-known guest stars. Ray Liotta won an Emmy for his role as Charlie Metcalf in “Time of Death,” a unique and enthralling episode that involves no side plots and takes place in real time. Gorgeous Mädchen Amick appears in ten episodes as a love interest for Carter. Red Buttons reprises his role for the fifth and final time as Jules 'Ruby' Rubadoux in “Ruby Redux” while Danny Glover begins his recurring role as Charlie Pratt Sr., Dr. Greg Pratt’s (Mekhi Phifer) estranged father. In the fascinating and creative “Alone in a Crowd,” Cynthia Nixon plays a stroke victim that can still think clearly but is unable to communicate.
The DVD collection includes all 22 episodes. The only extra feature is deleted scenes labeled as “Outpatient Outtakes,” available altogether or per episode.
Watching Season 11 rekindled my appreciation of the series and makes other medical dramas, such as Grey’s Anatomy, pale in comparison. If you were ever a fan of the show and missed out on all this season has to offer when it originally aired, I suggest you fake an injury and spend sometime in the ER.