With so much speculation about how Netflix’s release of the entire 13-episode first season of “House Of Cards” is likely to ruin television, I thought I would post about the greatest binge TV watching experience I ever had: The first five seasons of NBC’s “ER,” on DVD several years after the shows aired.
I don’t quite remember why I didn’t get into “ER” from the beginning. By the time I noticed an occasional episode during about the third season, my linear bent took over. “I have to see this from the beginning,” I thought, “maybe in reruns, or video — but somewhere.”
In 2003, I bought the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment DVD release of Season 1 (1994-95). From the first minute, I was riveted. That first day and into the night I watched the pilot and six more episodes. After the fourth, I told myself I needed to get to bed. But already, Doug Ross and Carol Hathaway were having problems. Carter was worried about contracting an STD. Peter Benton was being his irascible self, and having in-law troubles. Mark Greene’s wife was getting on my nerves, and I was glad to see that the character was moving away from the doc I considered the heart and soul of the show. Mark Greene was one of the 10 best characters in TV history, a thought I’ll return to at some point.
In any case, it was all there — edge-of-your seat drama, humor, sentiment, fascinating moral dilemmas. And I couldn’t imagine how anybody patiently waited all week to see what would happen next.
Of course, even back then, it was hard to avoid spoilers, even if people hadn’t seen the episodes in almost 10 years. I can only imagine how hard it will be in the Internet era, with social media, smart phones, tablets and the rest.
– David B. Wilkerson