Studios have managed to find gold in their television vaults, and WARNER BROS has elected to begin releasing their previously respected series, “E.R.” on dvd. The first season has been packaged in a boxed set, with the promise of the rest to follow.
Perhaps better than any other dramatic show with a hospital setting ever, “E.R.” skillfully managed to blend the stories of the patients coming in with equally captivating stories involving the doctors and staff. Shows like “EMERGENCY” weren’t able to do this, but creator Michael Chricton has, and as the first season demonstrates, does so without resorting to predictable outcomes.
One of the best things the series has had going for it, and key to making it so successful over such a long time, is its selection of casting. Eric Lasalle, Julianna Marguilies, George Clooney, and others are all sensational here, truly proving that television is still a medium wherein incredible performances still exist, even this many years after John Frankenheimer’s “PLAYHOUSE 90” series has ended!
The first season also attests to the wonderful group efforts involved in fine television. Editing, writing and much more make episodes like “MOTHERHOOD”, directed by Quentin Tarantino, stand out and against many feature films in its overall quality and entertainment value!
All 25 episodes have been included here.
WARNER BROS. has presented the image with 1.77:1 and 16:9 enhancement. The image varies in quality. Colors are generally solid, with a well-balanced look. However, the source material suffers in spots from dirt and other mild flaws. The detail is actually better than on its television airings, and contrast is fine, although lacking the depth of many superior WB transfers. Fleshtones appear natural.
WARNER BROS. has provided a Dolby 2.0 Surround mix. While it’s not the 5.1 remix that many shows are getting, it’s surprisingly aggressive, boosting the music and surround effects throughout the show in just the right spots to enhance an already gripping program. Dialogue is always intelligible, even within multi-layers of effects sometimes.
WARNER BROS. has thrown in some goodies as well for this release. To begin with, there are four commentaries!
Crichton and producer John Wells appear on the pilot episode, offering a highly entertaining blend of production info, casting, etc, along with insight relating to the medical authenticity of it and development of the script.
Another commentary for the pilot offers its director, Rob Holcomb and others. While some of the same material is covered in the Crichton/Wells commentary, this one’s even livelier and more fun. Listeners will be pleasantly surprised how engaging these commentaries are.
Director Mimi Leder and others appear on the commentary for “LOVE’S LABOR LOST”, a terrific episode which went on to win 5 Emmy Awards, and largely responsible for Leder’s venture into filmmaking wherein she directed the underrated “PEACEMAKER”, “DEEP IMPACT” and “PAY IT FORWARD”. Here, she discusses how and why she stages scenes in a specific way, and other important info that any aspiring filmmaker should listen to.
Director/Producer Christopher Chulack and Paul Manning provide commentary for the episode, “SLEEPLESS IN CHICAGO”. It’s not as technical as the others, but provides some worthwhile info for fans about the behind-the-scenes goings ons, and is thoroughly entertaining!
An “OUTTAKES” section offers plenty of laughs in its brief duration.(approximately ten minutes.
“POST OPERATION PROCEDURES” offers a quick look at the post “production” end of the series, explaining the process for post production is similar, thematically, to triage, in regards to important, instantaneous decisions needing to be made!
“MEDICAL REALISM IN THE ER” is a brief featurette, featuring interviews with cast, crew and technical advisors about the show’s efforts at realism.
“BEHIND THE CURTAINS” is a lengthy documentary, loaded with “behind-the-scenes” footage, explaining the show’s typical production. It features plenty of interviews as well, and is never, even momentarily dull.
WARNER BROS. has included a small insert, featuring info about each episode and more!