Written by Senora Bicho
ER was nearing the end of its 15-year run when season 12 aired in 2005-2006. Ratings had been steadily dropping and this season saw a plummet from #16 to #30.
This season brings new challenges for those working in the ER. Dr. Luka Kovac (Goran Visnjic) and girlfriend Nurse Samantha Taggart (Linda Cardellini) call it quits again, which leads him back into the arms of Dr. Abby Lockheart (Maura Tierney). Neela Kaur Rasgotra (Parminder Nagra) welcomes Dr. Michael Gallant (Sharif Atkins) home from Iraq and he has an important question for her. Dr. Gregory Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) travels to Darfur to assist Dr. Carter (Noah Wiley) while at home he begins to find a family with his estranged father. Dr. Ray Barnett (Shane West) tries to balance being a doctor and a rock star. In addition to all of the personal drama that the characters endure they must also deal with complicated, demanding, and life-altering patients.
ER continued to have more cast changes in season 12. Previously, season 11 saw the departure of Noah Wyle with a tribute in the season finale. In contrast, Dr. Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) makes her final appearance in the first episode here with surprisingly little fanfare via an announcement at the beginning of episode five. John Leguizamo joins the cast as Dr. Victor Clemente, John Stamos as Paramedic Tony Gates, and Kristen Johnston as Nurse Manager Eve Peyton.
James Woods received an Emmy nomination for his guest appearance in "Body & Soul" as Dr. Nate Lennox, professor of medicine and Abby’s mentor who is suffering from debilitating ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). The progression of the disease is illustrated through flashbacks working backwards to the day of diagnosis. It is an extremely well-done yet difficult episode to watch that highlights the seriousness and destruction of this disease. Danny Glover and Sara Gilbert continue their recurring roles, and Dr. Carter returns for four episodes involving a special storyline in Darfur. Stana Katic (“Castle”), C. Thomas Howell, Ernie Hudson, Serena Williams, Diane Ladd, Mary McCormack, and many other lesser-known actors appear throughout the season.
There are 22 episodes in the season and the only special feature is “Outpatient Outtakes” presenting deleted scenes.
I previously had the opportunity to review Season 11 which offered great writing and fine storytelling with engaging storylines. While this season offered some good moments and interesting episodes, it was not nearly as strong of a season. Considering that the show is 12 seasons in, it is still very strong and better than many other medical dramas that have followed. If you checked out of the ER before this season aired, I suggest a return visit with the staff of County General.