It’s been a solid year since our inaugural step into that pleasantly warm pool that is Adam Scott’s career. That’s certainly not from a boredom of the man himself, in that span we’ve seen both sides of the coin, one that isn’t a lottery win but still a comforting bit of good fortune. Returning to HBO to stretch his dramatic chops in Little Big Lies and continuing his witty and offbeat insights in the podcast R U Talkin’ R.E.M. RE: ME? Fun note, between these two articles eagle-eyed fans have located his presence in their music video for ‘Drive’ and appointed that his very first IMDB credit.
After a ridiculous introduction in Dead at 21, Adam gets his first foray into some more serious drama with the first season of 1995’s E.R.
Devon: So, I know this isn’t our first time experiencing Adam Scott but was this your first time watching E.R.?
Alexander: I think I may have seen some of it before; it is the absolute definition of a home-sick-from-school kind of show that your parents would put on.
D: There is a definite ‘grandma’s afternoon’ watch-ability with certain procedurals, say Murder She Wrote or if your nana’s particularly rowdy, a Becker. I’m not sure I’d be hooked as a child with the immediate divorce aftermath which opens this episode.
This show feels different from those, before Grey’s Anatomy or House made medical comfort viewing typical. There’s a distinct adult quality that struck me, which seems very intentional given the first season establishing the form. The prestige HBO factor is so apparent from the overlapping dialogue and never dumbing down the medical jargon. More specifically, I did not expect us to start with a foggy evening NYC scored to soft jazz.
D: It’s a shockingly thick atmosphere and that is such an interesting tone to set. Most medical procedurals aim for a heightened TV drama with twists and turns where the first ad-break cliffhanger ends with the spell-it-out “I know what this is, it’s AIDs”. Almost despite the jazz, it’s a fairly realistic depiction of hospital work.
Having only seen this episode, I have to assume the traditional structure is case of the week, usually seen is the pre-credits opener. E.R brings us right into an ongoing story that isn’t cleanly resolved while they are swamped with constant patients.
A: The cases here are pretty incidental and don’t seem to drive the plot forward that much. As opposed to, say, Diagnosis: Murder, where it’s fifty exhausting minutes on one case with no character development in any of it.
D: Having said that, I want at a rampaging drunken giant at least every other episode. I can only wish that could’ve been Adam’s part, he’s a very gentle lad but this might’ve shown some aggressive range.
Also, excuse me but I will have nothing bad said about Dick Van Dyke and his real life son, uh, Scrote Van Dyke on this website. They do not need character development because like Jessica Fletcher they are already operating at one hundred percent.
D: That seems expected for such a long series, and plus that had crossovers with Murder, She Wrote which crossed with Magnum P.I., so that whole connected universe is canonically supernatural.
Note: Diagnosis: Murder and Murder, She Wrote never actually crossed over, though looking into this, D:M has a ridiculous amount of connections. Andy Griffith returns as Matlock, a retired spy claims to have worked in the Impossible Missions Force, there’s a novel crossover with Monk, the fictional brand Oceanic Airlines is referenced used more notably in LOST, and perhaps most insanely Dick Van Dyke appeared in The Scooby Doo Movies which was almost used in a flashback sequence suggesting Dr. Sloan had met Scooby Doo.
A: E.R. had a crossover too with something called Third Watch which is something I, nor any living person, has ever heard of. [Note: Alex is also wrong, this show ran for six seasons and was still reported by many critics as being cancelled too soon.] This episode of E.R. also features a Sexy Werewolf so they were already exploring goofy TV territory pretty early on.
D: It is a spooky episode, for sure. Maybe this is connected to Ghosted, the backdoor pilot that only took twenty-two years for it to pay off… and then a year for it to end. Worth the wait!
A: I can’t wait to catch up on the four episodes that aired on ITV2! Between this episode and Dead at 21, Adam really was carving out a spooky career for himself. Hopefully there’s more to say on it than this early appearance because it lasted even briefer than Ghosted.
D: Can you imagine if we got to that and somehow Adam was only in twenty seconds per episode and still got top billing on the cast sheet. He is the George Clooney of Ghosted.
A: He’s the George Clooney of E.R. He had Adam hit with a car for real when he feared his career was in jeopardy from this absolute scene stealer.
D: Let’s properly explore Adam’s role here, then. One of the first cases of the episode, Adam Scott is a patient admitted due to a drunken car incident, except the twist(?) is he was the inebriated one.
A: Presumably he’d just come out of an R.E.M. show, ironic since starring in ‘Drive’, he was immediately hit by a car. I wonder if the car was stick shift or automatic, for the people. I bet Adam made that joke on set and that’s why they only gave him one line.
D: The comma there really accentuates the awkward stutter in trying to work that joke. Then again, my go to was How Does It Feel To Be In E.R. (Not Good)
A: The version I watched was mirrored so it was technically titled R.E. We could have Er, R You Talking E.R. RE: Me? Back to the case, Adam has been smashed by an old man who feels so bad he suffers a heart attack in the hospital. Both of them require immediate surgery within the first ten minutes of the episode and none of this is brought up again.
D: Of all the times I’ve seen screencaps of Adam in this it was him in that neck brace and having finally seen the episode… that was his scene.
A: He gets a comical little shifty-eye at the doctors’ interpersonal bickering over him during surgery. A clear demonstration of his future in comedy, but still, that’s about it. The Sexy Werewolf gets more than he does.
D: If it were Parks and Rec, Adam would’ve barreled the camera. Aside from some brief lines, he’s mostly just in pain and having a nice lie down. Were there any notable lines you remember?
A: “It hurts”.
D: It felt a step down from his passionate, insane ranting in Dead at 21. However, for an up-and-comer working actor, this was also a huge step up from the niche and out there MTV experiment of scripted programming to an immediate prestige TV success.
A: With this he probably got seen by millions of people. Every person in every home said the same thing, that this kid is going to go on to do great U2 podcasts, and they weren’t wrong!
D: Adam reels during surgery, “agh! I’m never going to be able to finish Prisoner of Azkaban with my son!”
A: “I’d just like to say hello to my nurse, my surgeon, my paramedics, and say hello to you!” For an early gig, impressive show reel material. Plus his eyebrows look very good!
D: That was the first ten minutes of this episode of E.R. I may have watched the entire episode expecting some return or conclusion, do we even review the overall episode?
A: Basically it’s a revolving door of sick and dying people; there’s Lucy (Kimmy Roberston) from Twin Peaks being the kooky astrology lady, naked college pledge dudes whose junk is all frozen, and a baby in a trash-bag. Then it ends with them having a little dance, presumably to shake of the horror and stench of death that clings to their beings.
D: Succinct summary. I loved seeing Lucy pop up and she got more dialogue time than Adam. Like our Ghosted theory, I will ignore any mention of her character’s name and assume it was another crossover.
A: We got Michael Ironside in there too as a cheeky medical chief in Lycra cyclist gear so E.R. was one of the greats of ‘oh, it’s them!’ television. I did have fun! I skipped through some of the character heavy stuff, I had no idea what they were on about, but I liked the busy setting and the strong atmosphere. It felt like High Quality Medical Television.
D: Whilst a very long series, the first season probably holds up as a solid experience just for that retrospective of when people tuned in for this they must’ve known this was going to be good television for the foreseeable future.
A: I could imagine having that first season DVD and putting on a couple of episodes when I fancied seeing George Clooney wobble his head, or seeing some character actors perish.
D: And of course, having it as a chapter in the Adam Scott saga.
A: Do you think anyone has collected an unofficial Adam Scott complete collection? Where they have every single piece of available media he featured in on DVD and keep it in a special commemorative Adam Scott tin?
D: I think and fear that will be us inevitably. We can buy on those Hellraiser puzzle-box box-sets and shove all his work in there. Who needs Hellraiser: Deader when we have Hellraiser: Bloodline featuring Adam Scott? The real torment in that box will be if there’s not enough room and I have to choose between Leap Year and Monster-In-Law to fit the final piece of the puzzle.
A: What else is going in next? Four episodes of Boy Meets World! That’s three more than E.R. and he’s an actual character, plus I used to love Boy Meets World so I’m very excited to meet the boy meeting the world again.
D: Aside from references to Topanga and Rider Strong, and judging which was the real name, I’ve never seen it! This will be a fun experience for the both of us where I’m sure we’ll have to more to talk about than this teeny tiny cameo.
A: Absolutely, and this will be the first Adam project where he’s not killed or badly injured so that’ll be refreshing!
A: Just kidding, he’s stabbed to death by Mr. Feeny!
D: I know that name too, so it must be true.