Monday, September 15, 2008

Pending Discharge from ER

Husband was out of town this weekend, which meant the house devolved quickly into chaos, laundry wasn't folded, but I could begin catching up on DVRed episodes of ER from April and May. These are episodes my other half watched in full last spring while I fell asleep on the couch. Hence, he is caught up and ready for the Final Season Premiere on September 25; I am woefully behind.

I haven't been able to talk him into reviewing these episodes with me on the nights we're together in front of the TV, so they have waited patiently (and thankfully unerased) in the DVR machine (however that works) for the opportunity presented by husband's three weekends in a row out of town this month. That is the only bright spot of this Triple-Weekend Single-Parenting Gig: I control the remote.

On Saturday night I watched 1.5 episodes, and last night I caught up on the .5 and one more. There are still three more hours of ER in the DVR (give and take commercials, of course). But honestly, I think I can only handle 1.5 worth of ER episode per sitting. ER is intense. This is the show, after all, which prompted the magazine Utne Reader to publish the debate "Is ER Art?" back in 2000. I love this show, but sometimes I am not in the mood to feel bad, or hopeless, or even inspired in a wow, what an emotional ride that was kind of way. So on those nights I watch Dateline NBC. Because reality is so much more comforting.

Last night, as I got teary over Abby and Luka's falling-apart marriage and laughed at a silly scene in which Pratt taught Morris and Frank to use "I" statements, I remembered why this might be my favorite show ever (I know! Even over The Muppets, Donny and Marie, and Little House on the Prairie!): fabulous writing, amazing acting, appropriate use of pathos, and some little extras--clever episode titles (literary references!) and great episode-ending songs (I will always remember hearing the song "Sand and Water," by Beth Nielsen Chapman, for the first time during a particularly poignant scene about a mother and baby). Last night, Luka told Abby he was moving out, to the tune of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals singing "Falling or Flying." Yeah, that got me.

But this will be my last year of ER--since 1994. I didn't even have to wean myself while I was living in Kenya; missionary friends in Africa, also fans of the show, would invite me over to watch videotaped episodes sent from the U.S. by relatives. It's not so much that the characters' storylines have me hooked (there have been so many cast changes over the years that one can't get too attached), but I think a weekly ER visit has served to satisfy my inner Pre-Med. After all, I started watching the show right after college--right after I admitted I wouldn't be a doctor when I grew up. I get a little charge when a "doctor" on the show notes, "That could cause an MI!" and I think to myself, Yeah, a myocardial infarction, I hear you. For a moment, like my daughter pretending to be a mermaid in the living room this afternoon, I am satisfying my own childhood fantasy.

And then, back on the show, Neela starts crying about choosing surgery as a career and her subsequent Lack of Life. Thank you, Neela, for reminding me that my Vice Principal Pity Party pales in comparison to 30 sleepless hours of work saving lives.

ER is art.


me said...

I almost had a MI when I saw the title to this post. So glad it was about the show. One of my favs, too. It became the only thing worth watching from 10-11am when I ran on the treadmill at the Y. I hate it when good shows end.

Anonymous said...

I admire your loyalty. Everyone else has jumped over to Grey's Anatomy but you are sticking it out to the end. I admit, I didn't even know ER was still on the air.