Warner Bros. | 2005 | 1023 Mins. | Not Rated

Despite numerous cast changes, ER remained a strong performer in the Nielsen ratings during the series eleventh season, averaging 15.5 million viewers per week and finishing the season as the 16th most watched television series of the year. After the eleventh season, Noah Wylie, who had played Dr. John Carter since the pilot decided to leave the show. This decision meant that no original cast members remained and the ratings for subsequent seasons suffered. This was also the final season for Alex Kingston as Dr. Elizabeth Corday and Ming-Na as Dr. Jing-Mei Chen. But, ER was always ready with new characters and this instance was no exception.

ER was known for opening with a bang and season eleven was no exception. Pratt (Mekhi Phifer) and Chen are rescued just in time, after their car plummets into the Chicago River. Unfortunately, their friend isn’t so lucky. At the same time, longtime nurse Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) is beginning her career as a doctor and new arrival Dr. Ray Barnett (Shane West) is getting his first taste of life at County General.

ER seemed sort of lost this season. It appeared as those the writers really didn’t know what to do with some of their long running characters. Perhaps that’s why Noah Wylie chose to hang up his scrubs and Alex Kingston was unceremoniously let go at season’s end. At the same time, the writers didn’t seem to know what to do with their newer characters yet. While season twelve would bring about solid storylines such as the relationship between Luka (Goran Visnjic) and Abby, season eleven plodded along with a disjointed one involving Luka and nurse Sam Taggert (Linda Cardellini).

While some of the regular actor’s storylines suffered this season, ER did include a few noteworthy guest appearances. First and foremost is Ray Liotta’s Emmy winning performance as a dying alcoholic, in “Time of Death.” Written by David Zabel, this is one of the affecting episodes about death and reconnecting with family ever shown on television. The legendary Red Buttons gives a wonderful performance as Jules “Ruby” Rubadoux, the husband of a former patient of the young Dr. Carter. Now a patient in the ER, he wants nothing to do with the doctor that he believes killed his wife. Cynthia Nixon guests as a young mother of three who suffers a stroke. We are also introduced to Charlie Pratt (Danny Glover), father of ER doctor Greg Pratt. Like much of the cast, Glover would have more opportunities to truly display his acting abilities in season twelve.

In terms of the regular cast, the dramatic epicenter of things lies with Dr. Carter and his girlfriend (Thandie Newton). While their story os definitely sad, it just doesn’t feel like it carries a show with such a large ensemble cast. Somehow, the eleventh season of ER just feels underwhelming.

The DVD is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Black levels are deep and consistent, finely grained detail is sharp and impressive and color accuracy is exceptional.

The Dolby 2.0 mixes simply okay; not much is done with the soundscape at all. Dialogue sounds passable. With a show that revolves around tight suspense sequences, why not utilize more enveloping surround effects?

Included are English, English SDH, French, Chinese and Portuguese subtitles.

There’s not much in the way of special features except a few deleted scenes.

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