Sunday, September 17, 2006

ER: Why Won't You Just Die Already?

You know how in horror movies when the monster is coming closer and closer while the hero is trying valiantly to kill it? He shoots it a bunch of times, it keeps coming. He tries to stab it, the knife bounces off. He tries to set it on fire, to no effect. It just keeps lurching toward him until he can find its one weakness. That's kind of the way I think of ER now, in the sense that we would have to crush it or drop it in a vat of molten metal or... whatever happened to the third Terminator - I think she got crushed too, maybe - in order to get rid of it. It just won't die.

Consider: I am 22 years old. ER has been on for over half my life. Granted, both The Simpsons and Law and Order have been on for longer. I can't even remember TV without those shows. But neither show is quite so stale as ER is. ER has always been a character-driven drama, and it's a little hard to get fans to care about your characters when even the third wave of actors is beginning to leave and new characters are cropping up all the time. The Simpsons (which, as we've discussed on this blog, is not exactly fresh as a daisy itself) never really changes, and most of its original actors are still around. It's also helped by the buzz surrounding its upcoming movie. Law and Order is a procedural that barely tells you anything about its characters (see: "Is this because I'm a lesbian?"). Its viewers are tuning in for the - well, the law and order - rather than the actors.

There's nothing better for a show than to go out at the top of its game, at its peak or just a couple seasons after. It is way, way too late for that for ER. The shark is a dot to them. The most they can hope for is to go off the air with the fewest number of people shouting, "Wait, that show is still on the air?"


Colleen said...

The shark IS a dot to them. ;) Well done, well done.

I honestly did not know it was still on the air. its more like a soap opera now. My mom talks about soap operas that have been on so long that she remembers when current characters on the show were BORN. on the show, that is.

RandomAbductee said...

There's someone who's an even worse offender on the air right now: Seventh Heaven.

Lori said...

Hmm, that's true. 7th Heaven has already come back from the dead once.

vance said...

I know. I'm a defender of the weak but while ER is now completely repeating itself, I found last year to have a sort of resurgence in quality again. Or maybe I just love Shane West and Parminder Nagra so much that Im willing to look beyond everything. Plus. Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) joins the cast this year! and yes. Im saying that without irony.