My beginning to watch the show ER on DVD is just a tad less rewarding than Sir Walter Raleigh's finding the Lost City of Gold, since in spite of its running as a highly rewarded and well received series for 15 seasons, I watched but one episode, the final one in 2009. Somehow, it never fit into my life on Thursday evenings. And, by the time I watched that one episode, it was long past being a very tired cast, crew, and format.
But, seeing it as it premiered in 1984, with a cast that was probably surpassed only by "The West Wing", it was crackling with life and excitement and humanity. Compared to it, the 2012 series "Monday Mornings" was a highly mannered, pretentious shadow of the real thing which was "ER". I could not keep my eyes off the screen, and I ordered Seasons 2 and 3 almost immediately. I can now look forward to several weeks of viewing the entire series at the rate of three to four episodes per night.
The main cast is quite good, but it goes to new heights when the show is peppered with some outstanding guest appearances such as ER chiefs played by William H. Macy and Michael ironside, and cardiac surgeon, CCH Pounder, plus brother in law Ving Rhames. At first, I'm surprised at the brusque treatment and "guidance" 3rd year medical student Noah Wyle gets from his 2nd year surgical resident, Eriq La Salle. This is about as close as "ER" ever gets to the prima donna characterization of a doctor on "House". In all other ways, it is the demonstration that "House" is a surreal abstraction of hospital behavior, far removed from reality.
One almost senses that the level of activity in the average day in the "ER" is exaggerated. I've been in very few Emergency Rooms in my life, and they tend to be relatively quiet. But then again, this is in downtown Chicago, and a teaching hospital, which probably has the mandate to turn down no one. In one episode, at night, during a heavy snow storm, we see for a small part of one episode, what the ER looks like when it is not busy. That didn't last long.
I have not yet seen any following seasons, but like "The West Wing" (same producer, John Wells), this show takes off from the opening scenes of the first episode, and never once drops the ball.