ER Episodes

1994, TV Show

ER Episode: "Old Times"

Season 15, Episode 19
Episode Synopsis: On a mission to retrieve transplant organs for Carter, Neela and Sam fly to Seattle, where they meet with Hathaway (Julianna Margulies) and Ross (George Clooney), who are coordinating the transfer. But the donor's grandmother (Susan Sarandon) has second thoughts about the donation. Meanwhile, Benton (Eriq La Salle) watches out for Carter at Northwestern. Ernest Borgnine also guest stars.
Original Air Date: Mar 12, 2009
Guest Cast Susan Sarandon Ernest Borgnine
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Season 15, Episode 19
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Length: 43:31
Aired: 3/12/2009
Also available on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU
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ER Episode Recap: "Old Times" Season 15, Episode 19

As I watched this week's highly anticipated episode unfold, I was reminded of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that I have always liked: Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends leave footprints in your heart. This week, we were treated to the best kind of homecoming as dear old friends returned to say a final farewell and leave with us a reminder of why this show has lasted, and why it will be missed.

The thing that I most loved about "Old Times" is the way these returning favorites were blended into the fabric of a story that bridged the past and the present in a believable, though slightly surreal, way. As Neela and Sam waited along with numerous other transplant teams, they were greeted by Carol Hathaway, Organ Donation Coordinator for a hospital in Seattle. (Hey, isn't that where that nurse went to find that doctor who knocked her up?) Moments later, I gasped (and yes, clapped and screeched a little) as George Clooney, I mean Doug Ross, strolled onto the scene as the attending physician for the brain-dead teenage organ donor. And did I mention that the serial womanizer is now a thoroughly domesticated married man and father?

What was even more striking than Doug Ross' redemption is how Mr. Clooney and the radiant Julianna Margulies slipped back into those characters so seamlessly. When I first heard about these "reunions," my biggest fear was that these appearances would be disruptive to the ebb and flow of the storytelling. However, as Dr. Ross gently persuaded the grandmother, played by Susan Sarandon, to donate her grandson's organs as a tribute to his generosity, it was the fine acting, as well as the artful writing and directing by series executive producer John Wells, that anchored the story and allowed us to forget that we were in the presence of movie stars.

When Doug finally made the connection that Neela and Sam were from County General, I thoroughly enjoyed the back and forth roll call that ensued. For example, how strange that Doug never crossed paths with Abby! It seems difficult to believe that two such central characters never met. However, perhaps he would have been familiar with Luka, who had made a play for Carol right before her retreat to the West Coast.

Despite the Clooney-rific return, my favorite reunion tonight was that of Carter and Peter. Of the original cast mates, I always felt that Eriq La Salle had created the most indelible impression as the humanity-challenged Dr. Benton. As a surgical resident to Carter's naïve intern, Peter had made Carter's life very unpleasant, but the two eventually developed a strong bond and Carter helped Peter to grow as a mentor, teacher and friend. Who else but Peter could say the line, "You look ridiculous, Carter," with such fondness? (I also laughed at Peter's reaction to the photo of Kem — "You married a sister?" — and found it to be very consistent with Peter's point of view in the past.) Peter never completely lost his edge, and that aspect of his complex personality was on full display tonight as he wrangled with Carter's transplant surgeon over the technicalities of prepping for a transplant. Finally, how shocking to hear that little baby Reese was now 13 years old. It was also nice to learn that Peter and Cleo had managed to stay together.

With all the hoopla tonight, it was easy to forget that back at County, some stories continued to play out. In a developing story that is way too contrived for my taste, a young woman drops off a beautiful, healthy African-American baby in the ER, like a stork delivering a bundle direct to Dr. Banfield. I had originally thought that the daughter/niece of the heart transplant patient would end up with Cate, but now it looks like she will end up with the baby she desperately wants. Meanwhile, Tony treated an elderly woman with a treatable infection whose husband (Ernest Borgnine) petitions to take her home to die.

The jury is still out on how Tony and Sam will reunite, whether Archie will get his happy ending and how the Neela/Brenner/Ray triangle will be resolved. For the moment, these things will have to wait as we savor a last look at how things have turned out for some old friends — who have certainly left imprints on the hearts of loyal fans.

With three episodes left, it looks like the goodbyes (and hello-agains) keep on coming. Were you satisfied with the reunions or were you hoping for more? How are you feeling and dealing as ER prepares to end its historic run?

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

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As I watched this week's highly anticipated episode unfold, I was reminded of a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that I have always liked: Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends leave footprints in your heart. This week, we were treated to the best kind of homecoming as dear old friends returned to say a final farewell and leave with us a reminder of why this show has lasted, and why it will be missed.

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Premiered: September 19, 1994, on NBC
Rating: TV-14
User Rating: (456 ratings)
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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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