Friday, October 17, 2008

ER: The Book of Abby Finally Closes - Thankfully

Since I’ve already written off CBS’ Eleventh Hour in the Thursday 10 PM time slot, I decided to take a look and see what was happening on ER. I was pleased to see that it was Abby’s (Maura Tierney) last day on the job. I never liked Abby.

And, in typical Abby behavior, even on her last day, she’s being inconsiderate of others, including her “best friend” Neela (Parminder Nagra). Neela is hurt that she had to find out about Abby’s departure through the rumor mill. And, also in typical Abby fashion, she tells off her new boss Dr. Cate Banfield (Angela Bassett) because Abby thinks she knows better, and of course, she doesn’t care because she’s going to be gone at the end of the day anyway.

Later, she also tells off a hospital board that was in the process of disciplining Sam (Linda Cardellini). It seems that Sam sent a patient home with an IV still attached, and if I followed things correctly, the patient injected themselves, using the IV, with another drug and it created problems. Abby’s defense for Sam made it sound like they fly by the seat of their pants every day in treating patients because they are understaffed and they get all the patients no one else wants. Excuse me, but that is no excuse for substandard care. And that’s the thing that sometimes bothered me about ER. They were always rationalizing their poor treatment of patients. In fact, it’s happened so many times over the years that I think the writers just made it the standard operating procedure at County Hospital.

When the staff says farewell to Abby, it was very telling about how bad the turnover has been on the show. It seemed that too many people were newer to me and as a result, the whole scene seemed almost hollow. What made the whole farewell episode even worse was the corny voice over of Abby reading what I believe to be Bible passages. Doubly corny was the whole contrived scene with Frank trying to learn how to tango, complete with the feet decals on the floor to help him with his steps. If he worked for me, I would have told him to remove them and get to work stat. But, I guess nobody really works at County. It turns out that Abby can save the day when she helps Frank at the very end by doing the tango with him, which he executes flawlessly. It was sappy.

And how could I forget Abby trying to talk a boy off the hospital roof by giving him a syringe that he could inject himself with at a later time, in order, I think, to end it all. Later, when she asks for the syringe back, he states, half questioning, that that she wouldn’t have let him do it. She says that she hadn’t though it through. Typical Abby. She always seemed too impulsive, and I don’t think her character grew much over the years.

The only person on the show who is mildly interesting is Dr. Archie Morris (Scott Grimes), who has, over the years, morphed from a joint-smoking doctor to someone who is somewhat responsible. There may be hope for him, but sadly he seems to be destined for comic relief on the show.

With Abby leaving, though, I have no reason to watch ER any more because there is no one left in which I am interested – both to praise OR to criticize. It looks like Thursday night at 10 is offering nothing compelling to watch. I may have to force myself to watch ABC. That’s when I know the time slot has gotten bad.

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