Since it's beginning in September of 1994, ER has been my favorite television shows. The great story lines and great characters that have appeared on this show have occupied my Thursday nights for 11 years.
While I still enjoy the show now, the prime of the show, at least to me, was in the beginning. With Anthony Edwards, George Clooney and Sherry Stringfield, plus Noah Wyle, Julianna Margulies and Eriq LaSalle, the early years were some of the best television hours ever.
Season three was one that saw a number of changes to the ER. Dr. Susan Lewis (Stringfield) left the ER for Phoenix. She returned a number of years later and is still part of the show, but her departure left a hole in the staff, not to mention, in the heart of fellow doc Mark Greene (Edwards). This season also saw the edition of Laura Innes to the regular cast. She appeared in season two as a recurring character and was added to the cast to start season three. Her character of Dr. Weaver has experienced some of the greatest changes of anyone since her arrival on the show.
Some of the key storylines early in this season involve Greene and Lewis, as there is an obvious romantic connection between the two, that leaves Greene feeling betrayed when she leaves. A highlight episode of the season was "Fear of Flying" where the two docs take a medivac chopper to a remote accident scene and save a family of four. Greene, who is one of my all time favorite television characters, also experiences a brutal attack in the restroom of the hospital and has a hard time readjusting as he returns to work.
Dr. Doug Ross (Clooney) begins the season as he ended the second, still moving from woman to woman, but when a woman whom he barely knows passes out at his apartment and eventually dies at County, he begins to change his ways, mainly pointing his affection in the direction of nurse Carol Hathaway (Margulies), who is also one of his exes. Clooney's work with a homeless teen, portrayed excellently by Kirsten Dunst, is one of the great story arcs throughout the season.
As for Hathaway, she takes the medical school tests, and does incredibly well, but realizes that she likes being a nurse. As nurse manager, she takes on the administration with some solid results and also gets a highlight episode where she is caught in an armed robbery at a convenience store. It is in this episode that you see the true Carol Hathaway and her compassion for others. Ewan McGregor also does a great guest stint as one of the robbers.
Dr. John Carter (Wyle) looks so young, especially as I finished this past season watching him leave the show after 11 seasons. Carter has an affair with his superior, and also sees the death of one of his fellow surgical interns (guest star Omar Epps). He also begins to realize that he may have chosen the wrong elective, as he sees that his healing ways may be better suited for the ER, not the surgical unit.
Dr. Peter Benton (La Salle) is probably one of the best surgeons on the staff, but it is his people skills that make his turn in pediatrics a tough one. The death of intern Gant weighs heavily on Benton, but it is the birth of his son as the season comes to a close that really begins to change his ways. The Benton as father story line served the show well for a number of years until his eventual departure.
Weaver (Innes) is in almost constant combat with Greene. She has ideas that she tries to implement that just don't sit well with the senior doc. Her kissing up to the bosses irks not only Greene, but a number of other staff members. She was not a likeable character for a long time, but that has changed over the last few years.
The one ER character that I never really cared for was PA Jeannie Boulet (Gloria Reuben). This season featured a lot of stories for her, as she battled her HIV status and considered relationships before reconciling with her ex. This character, although Reuben is a good actor, always seemed to be concerned with herself and nobody else and that always bothered me.
Additionally, this season saw some great guest and recurring stars. As mentioned, Dunst and Epps were key figures for many episodes, while William H. Macy and John Aylward continued there positions as hospital staffers. Jorja Fox came on board as Dr. Maggie Doyle and Veronica Cartwright won praise for her guest turn as the mother of a sick young man. Glenne Healy, cch Pounder, Kevin Tighe, Sam Anderson and Jamie Gertz were just a few of the many who had a presence in the ER. Maria Bello guest starred at the end of the season and was added to the staff in the next year.
There are two great commentary tracks, as well as two very good documentaries. One involves the Fear of Flying episode while the other deals with the support staff at the hospital, the nurses, desk clerks, etc. Both are very informative. There are also a great gag reel and some deleted scenes.
Of course I am biased, as this is my favorite show, but I don't think you could find a finer group of actors and better story lines than this season of ER provided.