Saturday, November 12, 2005

ER: Child cruelty

Upon watching the opening of Thursday night's ER, I hurled a stream of profanity at the screen and swore I'd never watch again. An agitated man carries a little girl out of a restaurant as they have the usual parent-child banter that you only hear on ER when you know, for one reason or another, that relationship as they know it is about to end.

Yes, ER loves to kill and otherwise inflict brutality on children, but they hit a new low tonight. A bunch of police cars pulled up, and the guy -- still carrying the kid -- wasted no time getting in a shootout with them. He ran sideways -- still carrying the kid -- while bullets flew back and forth. One cop got hit. Inexplicably, an ambulance drove up, though no one had been injured or shot before the guns opened up -- apparently, they have psychic dispatchers in this hospital. The cops fire away at the guy -- did I mention he was still carrying a kid? -- until he falls. He's hit in the head. And oh, here's the shocker ... the kid is also wounded. Did I mentioned that he was carrying her?

Once upon a time, when ER doled out afflictions upon families, it did so with great respect. The classic early episode, Love's Labor Lost, focuses on Dr. Greene's efforts to save a pregnant woman and her new baby. He only succeeds halfway, and it's crushing. A few hundred episodes later, they're just getting lazy. Now they have kids getting hurt because the Chicago police apparently don't realize that you don't just fire away like the poor kid in Pulp Fiction who tries to take out Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta when ... yes ... there's a KID in the way!

I've been frustrated with this show for a while. I've kept watching because I still care about some of the characters and actors. I love Maura Tierney and Parminder Nagra from their previous work, and I enjoy it when the show lets them show off their comedic skills. Goran Visnijc's Luka was at one time the most compelling character on TV, a man of great conscience who spilled his guts to a call girl in Chicago in between trips to Africa to help the sick, cleanse his soul and almost die in one of the best episodes of TV I've ever seen. But for the past couple of years, the number of kids they've killed, orphaned or forced to interact with Scott Grimes has been so high that it turned into farce.

Are the powers that be at ER simply heartless scum? I think not. I think they're modern-day Caligulas, so entranced by the orgy of sex and violence they've created that they've become bloated and incapable of the simplest moral judgment.

Mmmmm, yes ... put another child in the crossfire. It's so delicious when the parents weep. And let's hire some name actors and watch them suffer. And have the good-looking Croatian man have sex with the girl from Freaks and Geeks ... people think of her as young, so it'll be just that much more devious. How delightful ...

Maybe I should check out that Lost show, except that they seem to be killing people off now, and the whole reason I didn't start watching in the first place was that it seemed so depressing. Sure, Caine in Kung Fu was left wandering aimlessly as well, but at least he occasionally had a chance to kick butt.


Neel Mehta said...

Cut the cord, my friend. Cut the cord. I did, and my TV life got a lot better.

First, a little history. During a much-hyped episode a few seasons ago, I vowed to stop watching the show if nothing interesting happened. Unfortunately, it was the one where Dr. Romano lost his arm. So I stuck with it that season. Next year they added Parminder Nagra, and I felt I'd be betraying the Motherland if I gave up then. But the season after that, I stopped. And it was wonderful.

Have I seen the show since? Sure, a couple of times. I watched the Cynthia Nixon episode last season, and paid minor attention to the lame season premiere a months back. But I'm no longer attached to watching, so it's not a big deal. You should do the same -- now more than ever, they're resorting to stunt casting, a sure sign of desperation. Leave now, while you still hate the show more than yourself for watching it.

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

The Cynthia Nixon ep was a good one. I'm still watching in hopes of some shirtless Goran, which we haven't seen since season 10.