The sight of Benton and Carter together again would have been good enough. Add Ernest Borgnine and Susan Sarandon to the mix, and you knew you were going to get something memorable. And when you saw the name of John Wells as both writer and director, you knew that this could be something really special.
And then, with the first glimpse of Doug and Carol, you knew that tonight's ER was the reward for all the fans who have stuck with the show through thick, thin, thinner, and everything in between.
What a long time it's been since this show debuted in the fall of 1994. The son that I now watch the show with every week was about a month old, and George Clooney was an actor best known as the nephew of a famous singer. The son is now a freshman in high school, and Clooney is the biggest movie star on the planet.
This final season has been like a never-ending reunion, but they've done a pretty good job - the terrible Sam storylines nothwithstanding - of giving the show's current characters a chance to enjoy the spotlight along with all the old stars. But few moments from them could match the sight of Peter Benton, standing up to the arrogant surgeon preparing to operate on his friend John Carter, insisting that the surgical team complete the surgical checklist before beginning Carter's kidney transplant.
And the juxtaposition of scenes between Carter's kidney transplant and the County patient's heart transplant harkened back to some of the show's greatest moments.