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6 Degrees Entertainment

'ER: The Complete Twelfth Season'
(Goran Visnjic, Maura Tierney, Mekhi Phifer, Parminder Nagra, Linda Cardellini, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / 2010 / Warner Bros.)

Overview: Look who’s checked in at County General: Dr. Victor Clemente arrives with a motor mouth, a load of talent and a questionable past. Imposing, no-nonsense Eve Spellman takes charge (and almost takes over) as the new nurse manager. And hunky paramedic Tony Gates proves he’s more than a guy on the make.

DVD Verdict: 'ER' had some ups and downs it's last five seasons, and this was the lowest point. Why? I can sum 90% of it up in one word: Africa! After leaving the show in the season 11 finale, it was announced that Noah Wyle would return for several episodes in season 12. That sounded great ... at first. Then the episodes aired and it was more of Dr. Carter in Africa. The writer's already made their points with this storyline in season 10. The Africa episodes in season 12 simply don't add anything to the story, and are just more of the same. Granted, none of these Africa episodes are as bad as "Makemba" from season 10, but they still consume too much of season 12.

Anyway, now for the other 10% of the problems! There is an episode in the first half of the season callled "Dream House" and it is probably the worst non-Africa episode of the series. It focuses on Abby and Neela treating a baby Monkey. There were other occasions where animals were treated in the ER, but this case takes up too much time and lacks effective exectution. Also, the season premiere was weak!

Now, for what I did like: Kristen Johnston and John Leguizamo all have good recurring roles, and James Woods is excellent in an episode where he plays a former teacher of Abby's, who has ALS. Woods received a well deserved emmy nomination for this role. There is an excellent storyline where Kovac treats a woman who emerges from a coma after several years, and on a personal note he and Abby's relationship was rekindled.

There are some other good patient storylines - like when an Islamic girl is the victim of an honor killing, and, horribly, when a child is used as a human shield by her abductor, etc. - and Scott Grimes becomes a regular cast member. Which I wasn't happy about at first, but starting with the season finale and continuing through the remainder of the series, Dr. Archie Morris became (in my opinion) one of the best characters of the series.

One last thing I want to discuss is the season finale, '21 Guns.' This is a polarizing episode among ER fans. It caused many to tune out for good, while causing others to wait at the edge of their seat for the season 13 premiere. I was somewhere in the middle. After twelve seasons, the show had already done so much gunplay in the hospital that this finale pushed believeability. However, it was an intense way of pushing some tired old storylines out of the way (Sam's ex-boyfriend) while paving the way for a strong start to season 13 (and some fresh storylines) ... I guess! Whichever it is, I shall leave you to your own thoughts on the subject. [NB] This is a Widescreen presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Outpatient Outtakes: Unaired Scenes