'ER' First Episode: THR's 1994 Review

ER Season 1 Still - H 2015
Courtesy Everett Collection

On Sept. 19, 1994, NBC trotted out a new medical drama, ER, during the 9 to 11 pm time slot. The Hollywood Reporter's original review of the first episode is below: 

ER is blockbuster television. This medical drama, created and executive produced by Michael Crichton (who wrote the two-hour pilot airing tonight), brings the hospital milieu to a new intensity, engendering a combustible, urgent world that makes itself acutely felt.

Judging by ER’s first airing, one expects the series to join the ranks of such august M.D. programs past as St. Elsewhere. For despite ER’s sometimes muddled course, Crichton’s emergency room and its attendant physicians and staff make for riveting viewing, a place where life’s urgency and death’s finality is piercingly felt. However, ER is also a place tempered by humor and even caprice.

Though ER’s debut sometimes can be fragmented and disjointed, at times confused and confusing, the series overall gets off to an auspicious start. Viewers are swept into a bustling Chicago general hospital, where the momentous can collide with the mundane at any moment.

Staffers include resident Mark Green (Anthony Edwards), a doctor in his 30s; levelheaded physician Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield); Dr. Douglas Ross (George Clooney), a pediatrician who’s a smooth lady’s man; no-nonsense Peter Benton (Eriq LaSalle); and eager doc-in-training John Cater (Noah Wyle). In making our introduction to these and other characters, we get to see the trajectory of lives, the overwhelming forces that suddenly can alter the course of those brokering in the gravest of matters.

As scripted by Crichton and as directed by Rod Holcomb, matters great and small hit with meaning and intent. Immediate and insistent, ER is television that makes a difference; a series as true as a heartbeat, as insistent as an ambulance’s wail. – Miles Beller