Category Archives: er

Ernest Borgnine 1917-2012

Ernest Borgnine passed away yesterday at the ripe old age of 95, from kidney failure.

I grew up with him in “McHale’s Navy,” but some of the younger folks might know him from “Airwolf” or surprisingly (at least to me) “Spongebob Squarepants.” Besides those roles, Borgnine also acted in dozens of television shows in his six decade career, including an Emmy nomination for his role in the last couple episodes of “ER” when he was 92.

Borgnine was also a stage star, and because his television credits are so dominant, many folks forget what a legendary screen actor he was. He won the Oscar for his role in 1955’s Marty, and was outstanding in many other films like From Here to Eternity, The Dirty Dozen, Willard, The Devil’s Rain, The Poseidon Adventure and even Harlan Ellison’s infamous The Oscar.

I recently saw the man interviewed on TCM. He was as boisterous and lively as he had ever been, happy to tell tales of the old days and more recent times, a happy library of the industry. We have lost one of the great actors of Hollywood.

Doctor Who: The Time of Angels

One of the most frightening new monsters of the second incarnation of “Doctor Who” has been the Weeping Angels who appeared in the Steven Moffet-penned episode “Blink.” These demonic angel statues don’t move as long as you don’t stop looking at them – but if you blink, you’re dead. With Moffet now in charge of the series, the fourth episode of the fifth season features their return.

But Moffet couldn’t just let eleventh Doctor Matt Smith and his companion Amy Pond, played by Karen Gillan, just deal with the Angels, could he? He also threw Professor River Song into the mix just to shake things up. This woman, portrayed by former “ER” star Alex Kingston, has met the Doctor before, but not yet in his lifetime, and knows a lot about him, intimate stuff – leading some fans to speculate she might be his future wife.

Officially she’s from the Doctor’s future and his current incarnation is from her past, to quote the Doctor, ”Time travel, we keep meeting in the wrong order.” This episode intimates that there may be quite a bit more to River Song than we may have suspected. May I throw a monkey wrench into the guessing game? What if she’s the Rani? Discuss.

The crux of “The Time of Angels” is that a starliner has crashed and there’s a Weeping Angel inside – River Song, along with the Doctor’s help is after it. This is where Moffet puts the screws to us with the horrifying fact that even images, like video footage, of the Angels can move if you blink. It’s one of the scarier moments with Amy in the middle.

Guided by a madman’s book our heroes explore a labyrinth of the dead, decorated by statues, which is where the starliner crashed. If that’s not creepy enough, it seems they are all Angels. This episode is to “Blink” what Aliens was to Alien, and this is not a horror you can nuke from orbit, or from behind your couch either. And it’s to be continued.

What will happen? Tune in next week, same Who channel, same Who time. Season five just keeps getting better and better.

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Nurse Jackie

Showtime has been promoting this for a long time and it finally premiered last night. For the most part, “Nurse Jackie” lived up to the hype.

Edie Falco is no-nonsense, pill-popping, adulterous, know-it-all nurse Jackie Peyton as she fights her way through work at a New York City hospital. She deftly shows off that quirky dark comedic side we all knew was lurking beneath Carmela Soprano and was easily the star last night. She’s mean and abrasive, but I found myself rooting for her.

The dark and sarcastic tone of the show bothered me only because I frequent hospitals due to some health issues. I really don’t want to think of my doctors and nurses doing drugs, having sex and being otherwise apathetic while they are supposed to be caring for me – even though I know it happens. It does make for an entertaining show however.

I think the main problem with the show though is that everything outside of Falco was interchangeable with any run of the mill episode of “ER” or “St. Elsewhere,” only the main character stood out as unique and exciting. While I found (and surely will continue to find) Edie Falco amazing in this role, it will be a test of the actress’ abilities how well this series goes.

It’s dark, it’s silly, it’s got some clever twists and Falco is great. For the moment, I enjoyed last night’s episode and I’m along for the ride.

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Best of 2008: Television


Yep, it’s that time of year again, time for everyone and their mother to pick what they thought was the best of the past year. I’m no different, so yes, I’m going to make you suffer through my thoughts. This time, it’s television.

For me the top ten TV series of 2008 were:

“Pushing Daisies” – While canceled, and unlikely to return as anything but reruns or DVD, this was a bright spot for me on the TV schedule. It was thoughtful, innovative and brilliant, and that’s not even going into the unique cinematic or storytelling techniques it used.

“Eli Stone” – Another unique show and cancellation victim. ABC canned both of them after giving them a second chance this season. I guess ABC has not only a bone to pick with fantasy, but also television that makes you think.

“True Blood” – Unique marketing set this HBO series apart from any other vampire series before it even hit the air with the “BloodCopy” viral marketing ploy. This TV adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series is the surprise hit of the year.

“Dexter” – In its third season this Showtime series about a serial killer who hunts other serial killers continues to amaze. Even when it’s weak, it is better than 90% of everything else out ther on the tube.

“ER” – This old favorite, now in its supposedly final season, has bounced back and become its best season in years with guest stars galore and maintaining its balance of believable characters and intense situations. I don’t want it to go.

“The Wire” – And I didn’t want this one to go either, but what’s done is done. I came late to the party here and caught up on DVD, but I have to say that “The Wire” is probably one of the best series that has beeen made for television, period.
“Parking Wars” – This reality series from A&E follows the employees of the dreaded Philadelphia Parking Authority around during their workday. It’s the only reality show of its type that even comes close to the entertainment value of “Cops.”

The bottom five of my top ten are rounded out by Cartoon Network’s “Brave and the Bold” and “Venture Bros.,” the BBC’s fourth season of “Doctor Who,” the still refreshing “Chuck,” and FX’s much-missed and unfortunately canceled “Dirt.”

In the honorable mentions and etcetera department would be “Smallville” and “South Park” as most improved series, and BET’s “Black Panther” and the CW’s “Reaper” as the most looked forward to series in 2009.

On the bad side, boos and hisses for “Heroes” and Everybody Hates Chris” for dying a slow death in 2008, and the worst show I’ve seen this year would, of course, be the American version of “Kath and Kim.”

Michael Crichton R.I.P.


We’ve lost one of the great ones.

Michael Crichton, perhaps one of the greatest writers of the late twentieth century, author of “The Andromeda Strain,” “Jurassic Park” and “The Great Train Robbery” among many others and the creator of “ER,” died unexpectedly this week after a private battle with cancer.

The man will be missed.