ER: The Complete Twelfth Season
Studio: Warner Home Video
US DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
Broadcast Year: 2005-2006
Running Time: 975 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles: English (SDH), French
Movie: 4 out of 5
Originally written by Michael Crichton as a theatrical motion picture in 1984, ER debuted on NBC in September 1994 as part of the network's “Must See” Thursday prime time lineup (which included Friends, Seinfeld, and Mad About You). Set in Chicago's County General Hospital, the series followed the lives of the Emergency Room staff and their patients. The medical drama was ground-breaking television, staging realistic traumas and using technical medical jargon, all at an adrenaline-inducing pace, filmed mostly with a SteadiCam. The series also launched the careers of George Clooney, Julianna Margulies, Noah Wyle, Goran Visnjic, Mekhi Phifer, Shane West, and Eriq La Salle. After 15 seasons and numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and awards, County General closed its doors and ER left the first-run airwaves in April 2009.
Season 12 begins where 11 left off, as Nurse Samantha Taggart (Linda Cardellini) and Dr. Luka Kovac (Goran Visnjic) search for Sam's son who ran away without his insulin, looking for his jailed father (Garret Dillahunt). Once those loose ends are tied up, the season shifts gears and offers some interesting story arcs. After Sam and Kovac end their relationship upon returning to Chicago, Kovac and Dr. Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) find themselves in a relationship and awaiting parenthood. Eve Peyton (Kristen Johnson) is the new Nurse Manager at the ER, ruling with an iron fist until a meltdown on Christmas Eve. Dr. Victor Clemente (John Leguizamo) joins the staff as the new Attending, running from an incident in Newark that comes back to haunt him in a season long arc. Noah Wylie returns as Dr. John Carter, along with guest star Mary McCormack, in a three-episode arc set in a refugee camp in Darfur. James Woods guest stars as a brilliant researcher and professor who is in the last stages of Lou Gherig's Disease, in what has become an ER tradition, an episode focusing on one patient. We are introduced to med student and paramedic Tony Gates (John Stamos), who will become a major character in season 13. Danny Glover plays Dr. Pratt's (Mekhi Phifer) estranged father trying to reconnect with his son.
This is another solid season for ER, although the series' dependence on a season-ending cliffhanger leaving many of the main character's lives in jeopardy was beyond getting old at this point.
Video: 4 out of 5
Warner brings the 12thseason of ER to DVD in it's original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with anamorphic enhancement. Black levels are decent, colors are well-saturated without bleeding, flesh tones are consistent, and detail is very good. There are some noise issues, but these are minimal and not distracting. The season's 22 episodes are spread across six dual-layered, single-sided DVDs in a nice Amray-style 6-disc keepcase with a paperboard sleeve.
Audio: 4 out of 5
The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo soundtrack, encoded at 192 kbps, is quite impressive. Although listed on the package as Stereo, the tracks do contain a Pro Logic flag (according to my Yamaha RX-V563 receiver). That being said, dialogue is intelligible and mostly confined to the center channel, with music and ambient sound effects spread across the left, right, and surround channels.
Special Features: 2 out of 5
The only special feature on this set are Outpatient Outtakes for 16 episodes, a cute way of saying deleted scenes, all in non-anamorphic widescreen. There are no optional commentary tracks for these scenes, so no reason is provided as to why these were cut, although I assume they were cut for time.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5
ER's 12thseason comes to DVD in a nice enough package, with exceptional video and audio presentation, and is sure to please most fans of the show. I would have liked to see some behind the scenes footage, especially from the location shoot of the episodes that were filmed in Africa, but alas, that is not to be. Now if Warner would just release the remaining three seasons here in the US....