kicked off its second season of high-intensity drama and wry humor by introducing a character who would turn out to be a long-term member of--and a major irritation for--the inner-city Chicago hospital staff. After Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) is promoted to attending physician, the door is open for a new chief resident, and in walks Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes), who wastes no time ruffling everyone's feathers with her strict managerial style and subtle putdowns. One of her prime targets, Susan Lewis (Sherry Stringfield), struggles to balance her personal and professional life when she has to take care of her abandoned infant niece. The Lewis character grows the most during the season, along with second-year student John Carter (Noah Wylie), whose natural compassion gives way to professional ambition following the model of his teacher, ambitious and self-absorbed Peter Benton (Eriq LaSalle). Benton angles for a position with a renowned cardiovascular surgeon (Ron Rifkin) and has to deal with the fallout from a relationship with physician's assistant Jeannie Boulet (Gloria Reubens), yet he also starts to show some glimmers of humanity.
Greene has his own problems trying to manage a long-distance marriage, while nurse Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) bounces back from her aborted first-season marriage attempt to start a new relationship with paramedic Shep (Ron Eldard, who also became Margulies's real-life partner). She buys her first house and enjoys an entire season out of the companionship of Doug Ross (George Clooney), who as always runs into problems with his cowboy style and philandering ways. But just when he's finally driven himself out of the ER, he has to go play hero when he finds a boy pinned in a storm drain in an episode that was nominated for six Emmys and remains one of the, excuse the pun, high-water marks of the series. That and such episodes as "The Healers," which deals with the aftermath of Shep's daring fire rescue, prove that when ER was at its best, it was as good as anything on television.
Guest appearances include Lucy Liu as the mother of an AIDS-stricken boy, Red Buttons as an elderly husband, Joanna Gleason as an infomercial producer, and Jake Lloyd (Star Wars: Episode I, The Phantom Menace) as the son of a prostitute. DVD bonus features are a little lighter than on the first-season set, consisting of a commentary track (by co-executive producer Mimi Leder, editor Randy Jon Morgan, and Laura Innes) on the season's first episode and "The Healers," a nine-minute spotlight on "Hell and High Water," an 11-minute piece on the series' multiple directors, 14 minutes of outtakes, and a gag reel. --David Horiuchi
This Enthralling Series Explores The Inner Workings Of A Chicago Teaching Hospital And The Dedicated Physicians And Medical Personnel Who Staff Its Overburdened Emergency Room. Gloria Reuben Joins The Cast.