There are fans of “ER” and then there are the hardcore viewers — those who’ve watched every episode throughout the skein’s 14 seasons. And then there’s Carly Reichert, who turned her passion for “ER” into a paying job working on the show.
So who better to ask about the most memorable moments and best scenes that have taken place both inside and out of County General.
According to Reichert, there are two dynamics that resonate most with her: sheer chaos and romances.
Reichert, who wrote a 75-page thesis on “ER” and interned with John Wells Prods. before becoming an “ER” production assistant in 2005, cites season one’s “The Blizzard” as one of her all-time favorite episodes.
“If I remember correctly, it was the first really chaotic show. One second they’re sitting there having a good time and it’s snowing outside, then all of a sudden 150 people come in bleeding and dying. It was so well shot and was one of the reasons I decided I wanted to be a director.” (Reichert has written and directed a movie short titled “MaNiC.”)
“The great thing with ‘ER’ is every episode is a moment,” says Scott Grimes, who has played Dr. Archie Morris since season 10. “If you want to talk moments, in season six, Carter (Noah Wyle) enters a room where there’s a patient and gets stabbed, falls to the floor, turns over, looks under the bed and there’s Lucy (Kellie Martin), who’s already been stabbed.
“It’s one of the best moments I’ve ever seen on television, never mind ‘ER.’ He looks and sees Lucy dying. It was so powerful because you didn’t see Lucy get stabbed.”
Reichert recalls that moment as well.
“They showed her face in a pool of blood. It was so intense. It leaves you asking, ‘What’s going on?'” It’s those shocking and often dialogue-free moments that really command attention.”
Exec producer Chris Chulack relishes a subtle moment from season 10.
“There was this kind of love triangle going on between Carter, who had just gotten to Africa, Kovac (Goran Visnjic), who was already there, and a French nurse. There was a scene where everything we shot in the kitchen of this hospital in the Congo was all between the lines, this unspoken nuance. I’ll always remember that scene because it was so far from being on stage 11 in our ER.”
With doctors and nurses facing everything from bus crashes to explosions — and two unfortunate helicopter incidents — there’ve been plenty of big action scenes over the years.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say my favorite moment was when they didn’t kill me like they were supposed to,” Grimes says about the episode where a helicopter crash killed Romano (Paul McCrane). “The only reason Morris wasn’t killed is because he was smoking pot in the ambulance bay. Romano catches him and sends him back inside just before the helicopter comes crashing down.”
“I’m the guy who dropped the helicopter on Romano,” Chulack says. “I was dubious. I had mixed feelings about it, but thought it was pretty spectacular from a television standpoint. And directorially, it was kind of fun to figure out.”
The season two episode where Ross (George Clooney) rescues a boy from a flooded culvert made a vivid impression on Chulack, who directed it.
“There’s a shot where they get blown out of the culvert and they’re lost and you don’t know if the kid is dead or alive. It’s raining and at night and you see George dive under the water and he rises out of the water holding the kid, and the xenon light from a search helicopter shines on him. It was a spectacular, visceral image.”
“ER” is also known for quirkier moments.
“I remember one of Paul Manning’s scripts in year two, there was a guy plucking a turkey in a trauma room,” Chulack says. “I like the way we didn’t comment too much on it.”
Reichert recounts a recent scene where Chuny (Laura Ceron) mentions Doug Ross and Mark Greene, and Sam (Linda Cardellini) replies, “Who?” “I loved that one when I read it in the script,” Reichert says.
“Something we learned early on was the audience was really smart, so we didn’t have to hit them on the nose too hard with whatever point we were trying to make,” Chulack says.