ER Episodes

1994, TV Show

ER Episode: "A Long, Strange Trip"

Season 15, Episode 14
Episode Synopsis: Dr. Morgenstern (William H. Macy) visits County General upon learning a former mentor is seriously ill. Meanwhile, Sam's sister (Shannon Woodward) drops by unexpectedly; Gates and Morris treat an elderly man who was assaulted on the street; and Brenner is shocked by a patient's diagnosis.
Original Air Date: Feb 5, 2009
Guest Cast Shannon Woodward
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Season 15, Episode 14
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Length: 43:19
Aired: 2/5/2009
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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ER Episode Recap: "A Long, Strange Trip" Season 15, Episode 14

It seemed especially fitting in this last season that attention was paid to a part of the rich history of the ER we hadn't seen before. When we first met Oliver in tonight's episode, he appeared to be another homeless casualty, confused and injured, who found his way to the doors of the County General. Little did we know that this particular patient was in fact one of the founding fathers of the ER, an esteemed physician who had been a pioneer of emergency medicine at County.

Luckily for the woman who came in misdiagnosed with lung cancer, the doctor's diagnostic ability was still in tact. Noticing the swelling behind her ear, he quickly alerted Gates and Brenner to the fact that her cancer was actually tuberculosis, "the great imitator." It was truly a treat to see William H. Macy return as Dr. David Morgenstern, one of my all-time ER favorites and Oliver's de facto caretaker. Dr. Morgenstern was always a great character — warm, earnest, forthright and often a little eclectic in his approach. (Anyone else remember how he used to mentor Mark with his calm, confident advice or the episode when he found renewed purpose after suffering a mild heart attack?) Morgenstern's return was a nice piece of storytelling all around. Throughout the episode, we saw the perspective of the dementia-stricken doctor as he viewed current events through an altered point of view. (It was great fun to see Tony, Morris, Neela, Sam, Brenner and Chuny playing 1960s versions of themselves.) No surprise that tonight's well-crafted episode was directed by Mimi Leder, who brought us some of the most memorable and beloved early season episodes such as the unforgettable "Love's Labor Lost" and the Season 1 finale (and one of my personal favorites) "Everything Old is New Again."  It is nice to see that the actors aren't the only ones coming back for a final farewell.

Other stories tonight included the mother who was shoplifting so she could afford her insulin and care for her pregnant daughter. This one made me wonder how many desperate people are doing exactly the same thing to scrape by in this troubled economy. It was sad to see her carted off to jail, but even more upsetting to see the daughter angrily confront her mother not knowing all the facts.

Meanwhile, Sam got an unexpected visit from her sister, urging her to help in the care of their ailing mother. Sam's initial reluctance could be traced back to the rocky time she had with her mother as a result of her teenage pregnancy, but given Sam's recent displays of stubborn stupidity with Tony, it was very much keeping in character that she was not of a mind to forgive and forget. I am patiently waiting for the writers of this show to give me some reason to like Sam or be invested in her happiness. I've got nothing so far.

So now I'm going to turn the tables on you. As the weeks wind down, what are you hoping to see in these remaining episodes? We've all heard the rumors about who's going to be coming to call, but how would you like to see things wrap up? Are there characters you are anxious to reunite with or would you be happy to stick with your current favorites? How would you like to see it all end? While you are gathering your thoughts, here are a few of mine. While it will be nice to see familiar faces, it is my sincere hope that the current cast gets equal time to wrap up their storylines. Also, I want the returns to be logical and intertwined with the texture of the current storylines — similar to how they handled Morgenstern's return tonight (and completely opposite of the truly wasted return of Alex Kingston a few weeks back.) Writers, can you hear me?

Need more ER, STAT? Check out the Online Video Guide for interviews and clips.

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It seemed especially fitting in this last season that attention was paid to a part of the rich history of the ER we hadn't seen before. When we first met Oliver in tonight's episode, he appeared to be another homeless casualty, confused and injured, who found his way to the doors of the County General. Little did we know that this particular patient was in fact one of the founding fathers of the ER, an esteemed physician who had been a pioneer of emergency medicine at County.

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Premiered: September 19, 1994, on NBC
Rating: TV-14
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Premise: The riveting medical drama that redefined the genre for the 1990s and into the 21st century. Created by author Michael Crichton and set in a Chicago ER, the series chronicles the lives of its harried staff in staccato, realistic scenes of lives saved and lost.

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