Season 15 Episode 19

Old Times

Aired Thursday 10:00 PM Mar 12, 2009 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (20)

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  • A Missed Opportunity And An Inaccurate Portrayal

    A missed opportunity by ER to accurately portray Lifeguard organ donor flights, which are an everyday part of the aviation/medical landscape, but which this episode dealt with very clumsily ( a generous description). An excerpt from my blog post, at Robert Henry Fitness, which is based on my own past personal experience as Lifeguard pilot:

    Unfortunately and most disappointingly, this facet of aviation was maligned or at least very poorly represented in one of the last episodes of the long-running TV show ER, a show which could have used its platform to portray organ donor Lifeguard flights in a more positive and more accurate light. In that episode of ER, entitled "Old Times", which included the return of Julianna Marguiles and George Clooney, the jet which was supposed to be waiting for the returning medical team and organ(s), had instead departed. The medical team portrayed by series regulars then received sideways looks from a customer service representative at a private jet terminal when the team told the rep that a human heart was in the cooler. The team was then placed on a charter flight which was already occupied, as I recall, by a rock band. This was a very poor representation of what really transpires with Lifeguard organ flights. (Reportedly, this episode was written by John Wells, one of the show's executive These flights are usually flown under contract and are an ongoing service between the charter company and the medical facility. A flight crew would not abandon a medical team. Indeed, a member of the medical team calls ahead to one of the pilots via cell phone to let the flight crew know that the team will be arriving back at the plane in, say, 30 minutes. The flight crew then makes any necessary preparations for a smooth and timely departure. These flights are everyday occurrences and occur all over the .
  • A big reunion, a gift to longtime fans

    Indeed "very special." After nearly a decade's absence from the show, some old time favorites return in Clooney, Margulies and La Salle. One could have been worried in advance that their appearances would either feel contrived or that some of them would only have an inconsequential cameo - Clooney being the most likely, seeing that he is now Academy Award winner George Clooney and one of Hollywood's best-paid stars. Would he even have the time to shoot material for an actual story?

    Turns out, he did. And so did the others. And while, let's face it, the scenes we got felt like scenes we had seen before, it was just plain great to be reminded of ER's glory days and the two central stories played out sincere, moving and natural. All of these characters, including Carter, add a lot of class to these final episodes of the series and act as a kind of validation that ER indeed had to stay on the air for this long. How else would we have gotten an opportunity to see the ever-angsty Doug & Carol now in a place where they work as a well-oiled machine both in their relationship and professionally? How else would we have come to a story in which Peter Benton can finally drop his "bow to your superior master" routine with Carter and treat him like the friend he is, if not years after their collaboration and at that friend's hospital bed?

    It speaks of an episode's quality when such illustrous guest stars like Susan Sarandon and Ernest Borgnine (both with amazing performances) only get mentioned this far into a review. They're simply throwing everything into these last episodes. You can feel the writers' love for this show now more than in the last four years or so.

    Now on to the final three episodes. Let's hope they keep making each of them as memorable as this one.
  • In whats sure to be one of the most remembered episodes of the series, we see the return of Dr. Ross, Dr. Benton, and Nurse Hathaway for a final farewell to the show they helped become the phenomenon it first did.

    This episode was great, it had all the touching moments you'd expect from all the reunions that occur. Seeing where Dr. Ross and Nurse Hathaway are after all these years and Dr. Carter leaning on the help of his original mentor all brought back a flood of memories that's are indescribable. On top of this spectacle of emotion lies an amazing episode where we see great performances from Susan Sarandon and the other guest stars. It very much felt like one of the original episodes of the show in cinematography and character development. I dont know how they're going to top this with the remaining episodes.
  • Very special is not enough said about this episode..

    It was just amazing episode.. beautiful story, emotional, some really sad moments and some moments when it looked all is going wrong.. but in the end.. there was a happy ending.

    I just cannot not mention how happy I was to see Carol, Doug and Benton back.. Carol used to be my favorite char on early seasons.. and the whole feeling of the first seasons.. it was brilliant.. and now bring all those old familiar faces back in this way.. and reveal what has come of them.. that they all did found their happy endings.. it's just incredible.

    I most say I specially loved Carter's part in this episode. The whole dynamic between him and Benton.. it had not changed trough years.. and all about him and Kim.. It was just so beautiful episode.. so optimistic..
  • Ross, Hathaway and Benton are back!

    I liked Doug and Carol living happily in Seattle and dealing with the donation of the organs of a teenage boy whose grandmother is Susan Sarandon. I really loved that they mentioned they twin daughters having a spelling exam.. it was cute. One of my favorite moments was when Doug talked with Sam and Neela trying to find out if there is someone that worked with him that is still there. I kinda missed that he mentioned Carter, then he would maybe know that one of the kidneys is for him...
    It surprised me to see Benton working in the NW hospital but I'm glad he was there for Carter all the time. All in all really touchy and tearjerker chapter. Really great to remember Old Times.
  • Carol and Doug return... kinda

    In this episode of ER, the following happens. We open this episode, with a woman bringing a baby into the ER which she found abandoned near her apartment. The team work on the baby boy and the woman who brought him in vanishes. Carter gets told that a kidney may have been found for him. Then as if by magic we see Doug and Carol, as they organise who shall get a 16 year olds organs. Neela and Sam are one of the hospital teams there to collect organs. The holdup is that Billy's grandmother, felt him squeeze her hand and so now believes that he is in a coma and will come out of it, even though all the tests should that he is brain dead. There is an amazing met up between Neela, Sam and Doug and when they compare notes on who is in the ER now, it's amazing to see that so many people have come and gone. But they mention Abby to him and you'd think he would know that name as she helped to deliver his twin girls with Carol. Another old face comes back in the form of Bennett, who goes to visit Carer. Finally the organs are donated, but then when Neela and Sam go to their plane to get back to Chicago it has gone. So they have to share a plane with someone else in order to get back in time. They manage to get back in time and so the heart patient and Carter are both taken to the OR's. Soon the woman who found the baby comes back into the ER. Soon when Banfield asks her questions we learn that she is the mother. She says she can't cope and walks out of the ER, even though Banfield chases after her. The mother simply asks that they find him a good home. Luckily both of the organ transplants go well and both of the patients survive. At the end of the episode after his operation we see Carter ringing Kem, to tell her the good news. As the episode ends we see Carol and Doug in bed together, telling each other the words that all the fans have been waiting for "I love you".
  • The more things change....

    What a wonderful episode! This episode was definitely written for those who have all 15 seasons of ER. It brought back the old characters we loved and had just the right amount of dialogue to remind us why we loved them. Who can forget the love story of Carol and Doug or the tension and friendship of Benton and Carter? These character relationships helped develop this show into one we loved. What a tribute!

    While we would have loved some laughs with Carter and Doug, the storyline had a poetic beauty because of the unknown effect the players had on one another. We never know who we help. Over the years, ER has taken on many issues and policies. Organ donation is a life saving gift but the sacrifice is not one of ease. Adding this message to the final chapters of ER was a fitting story.
  • Brings back memories

    Doug Ross, Nurse Hathaway and Dr. Benton definitely among my favorite characters in the early days... the script was woven with such ease and clarity... the dialogue on point. The episode solidifies why it is still one of if not the greatest medical drama series on television. Few series get the chance at a fifteen year run and ER deserves it. Thus, it is befitting to start its closure with elevated drama and reminiscence. The return of George Clooney who slipped back into his Doc role as if he'd not been 'Out of Sight' and become the legendary Danny Ocean. The Librarian (Noah Wyle) proved to be everything his mentor Benton had hoped he'd be... No longer youthful and unsure of himself, but an equal and a friend.

    Not taking the lime light off the existing main cast; in a few short words, Banfield, Brenner, Sam and Neela were a joy to watch as their roles entwined with the old greats.

    a great tribute to the brilliance of its now passed creator Michael Crichton.
  • Absolutely wonderful!

    This episode ranks up there with the best episodes in the 15 year run of ER, and that is saying something. It was everything I wanted it to be and more. I had been trying to figure out how they were going to work Doug and Carol and Benton into the storyline, and they did it in such a way that nothing felt fake or contrived.

    I loved it when we got to see Doug and Carol working as a team. The scenes they had with Susan Sarandon were excellent. And I also loved it when Doug was talking with Neela and Sam and found out they were from County General in Chicago. When they started asking him if he knew different people (Abbey Lockhart for one) it was a great was of illustrating just how many main characters have come and gone over the years. I just wish they had mentioned Haleh or Chuny (who Doug would have known). You'd think that Sam at least would have thought about the nurses she knows have been there for a very long time.

    And the scenes with Benton and Carter in the hospital were wonderful. It was obvious that even though a lot of years have gone by they still care about each other.

    After 15 years of this show (and I haven't missed a single episode) I know I'm going to miss it. But at least they are letting it leave on a high note.
  • Awesome on so many different levels.

    One of the best episodes yet, I am so sad to see it go. I thought that the guest appearance by Susan Saradon was nice too. I loved seeing Ross, Benton, and Hathaway fulfill their roles just like old days. They kept their personalities and mannerisms and fit them seamlessly into the plot. I loved the ending but really wish that Hathaway and Ross would have found out more information on the donors. Oh well - at least we got to have them back albeit briefly. The story line never felt forced and it is worth watching again and again....
  • Hathaway and Ross. Benton, babies, reggae and 'some doctor from Chicago.' It's all good. Very, very good.

    On a message oard that I frequent, it was mentioned that the relationship between Peter benton and JOhn Carter was probably the most relaistically portrayed friendship on television. Benton always treated Carter like a gnat he could swat away and Carter was the proverbial puppy dog who eagerly lapped up any crumbs that fell his way. But when the chips were down, Benton was there. And that was played out again in this episode. They sat and chatted and we caught up on Kem (maybe it's over?), Reese (he is 13!), Carter's parents (wintering together in the Bahamas) and Benton's position as a general surgeon. What the??? But have no fear. He follows Carter into surgery - to observe - and insists that the very aggravated transplant surgeon follow a safety protocal list and saves the gnat's life - again. And rubs it in! Classic Benton. Loved it.

    But before this we see Hathaway and Ross in Seattle working to set the transplant wheels in motion. As a professional team - the hospital's transplant cooridnator and the pediatrician treating the 16 year old accident victim with organs to harvest - they both deal with a devestated grandmother (Susan Sarandon in an understated and very effective performance) with a decision to make. In the mean time Ross connects with Sam and Neela who are among others waiting organs. They compare 'notes' about doctors who have passed through the ER and nothing connected (but should have with Susan Lewis, writers!). Grandma signs, the organs are harvested and it's off to the airport where Neela and Sam have missed their flight and hitch a ride on another plane, hence the reggae reference.

    Back at County there are several other patients. Banfield deals with an abandoned baby, Gates and Daria (new do!) with an elderly couple bent on dying at home and Benner deals with Lucy. Small doses but with huge, nicely written character development steps. Had a minor scare. Benton didn't mention Cleo until the end. And Doug's wistful smile when talking about the twins mad eit almost apear that he wasn't a part of their daily lives. Have no fear - again. A classic Carol/Doug snuggle scene when she takes the call that the heart is working and the kidney went to 'some doctor in Chicago' verified that they are still together. Still soul mates. Sigh. Nicely done.

    It is amazing to me that actors who have taken their leave (Clooney - season 5, Margulies - season 6 and LaSalle - season 8) could slip so easily into their characters and into a story that is so relavent for the current ER scenario. Having them appear like this, as the series winds down after 15 years, was a much appreciated gift. VERY much appreciated!

    (Tried to post this 3 times on Thiurday and the site wouldn't accept it. Dang!)
  • Benton, Ross and Hathaway return. 'ER', this is your life.

    Though "Old Times" is definitely the astute title for an episode such as this, they could very easily have added an 'r' to make it "Old Timers", as this was one that reminded us of the show's true roots, the quality of its original cast, and (above all) its sublime ability to bring out the best in dramatic actors.

    On a practical note, I can't imagine the budget this week's offering must have required. Wyle, Clooney, Marguilies, LaSalle AND Susan Sarandon, all in one episode! They really have done well for casting this season (witht eh possible exception of John Stamos, who still thinks pouting can suffice as a substitute for acting), what with the addition of Angela Basset and David Lyons to the regulars, and the return of so many favourites from the past. Surely this is the ending to ER that many feared would never come to pass?

    The theme this episode seemed to be 'the ties that bind', and what a way to do it. Having known someone who died young and became an organ donor, I'm well aware of the miraculous things they can do with the various body parts a donor can provide. Perhaps the most amazing to me is the partial transplant of the donor's eyes to give sight to blind people. Susan Sarandon put on a great show, providing what could well be the last emmy-nominated guest star performance of the series' run. I loved how quietly she played her character, given the enormity of the situation that surrounded her, whilst her body language and tears gave away that she was quietly breaking apart inside (on a side note, Susan Sarandon has MASSIVE eyes, doesn't she?)

    Still, the emphasis seemed to be on connections. A boy crashes his motorcycle in Seattle and suddenly Carter, Ross, Hathaway, Benton, Neela, Sam and Brenner are all connected, and Doug and Carol are reminded of the hospital they grew up in. Perhaps most importantly, Wells did a fantastic job of impressing upon us that this could have happened at any time. It wasn't a special 'event' episode, just a regular one that the old cast happened to fit in with. Doug and Carol were instantly the characters we know and love from the early years, and the same goes for Benton too. Props to all the actors for reprising their roles so astutely. This works much better with the tone of ER, and it's a mark of true craftsmanship on the writer's part that it didn't have to bend too far away from the norm to incorporate such a high number of ex-cast members within 40 minutes. That said, it was refreshing to spend a little time outside of County.

    Overall, this was without doubt one of the best episodes of the season. Seeing Doug, Carol and Benton again was a very gratifying experience for the long-term viewer, and was handled perfectly, given that such a move could have (potentially) ruined each of those characters' previous departures from the show. And with next episode returning the focus to a character from the current cast, there seems to be a real sense of balance and - heck, I'll say it - art to this final stretch of the season, putting the series to bed, tucking it in and singing it to sleep.


    P.S. May I join the long queue of people hoping to see Clooney, Marguilies and LaSalle return, if only for a moment, for the finale in April?
  • Very well done, one of the best this season.

    This was my favourite episode for some time, why? Because it was done really, really well. Instead of Doug and Carol suddenly turning up at County we went into their wasn't soppy or stupid - it felt normal. Both were great characters, Carol especially for me was great throughout this episode.
    I liked the brief mention of the twins, how Doug asked Sam and Neela about the staff at County.

    That was another thing I loved about this feature, no one really knew each other, there was no 'OMG you're Doug Ross'. One of the highlights was when Carol said 'And they gave the kidney to some doctor' what a classic line. How they both had no idea they were helping an old friend, Dr. John Carter. The Susan S as the grandmother did a brilliant job, very emotional.

    Benton was the best part of the episode, he was hilarious. The friendship between him and Carter was so entertaining. Great performance. I have to admit I'm not a huge Carter fan but I liked him here. Neela also really stands out for me, not that much here but this season. I can't help but like Brenner... who knows why. Gates/Sam...sorry but I'm not a huge fan, both are alright on their own.

    I liked the Banfield storyline, even though that baby will more than likely end up with her. Impressive episode for sure.
  • Probably the best episode of the season along Heal Thyself, the episode focuses on the older characters for the most part. Including John Carter, Carol Hathaway, Peter Benton and the return of none other then George Clooney as Doug Ross.

    This was a great episode the only thing missing was Anthony Edwards, but hey his character is dead. What made this episode perfect? Well for starters the main focus of the episode was the older characters, including Dr. John Carter needing a kidney transplant stuck in the uptight Northwestern hospital. In the meantime Neela and Sam are in Seattle, where they encounter Carol Hathaway and Doug Ross! Yep George Clooney returned! Well apparently there is a woman whose grandson died played by Oscar winner Susan Sarandon and it's up to Hathaway and her husband Dr. Ross to convince the grandmother to donate her child's organs. Including a heart for a mother back in county in need of a transplant and a kidney for Dr. Carter back in Northwestern. After Ross works his charm on the grandmother, obviously Ross has his way with women, he is able to get County to take the organs. There is also a nice moment where Ross talks with Neela and Sam about County and they ask whether he knows a couple of older doctors, and they tell him that they don't know them, well except for Anspaugh who is briefly mentioned. There is also an appearance by Eriq La Salle as Peter Benton who is working at Northwestern and encounters Carter, they talk about life and Carter informs him about his wife and his dead child, Benton obviously cares about Carter and he watches as an arrogant doctor operates on Carter. The scene is incredible because we see the old Benton demeanor a cocky, arrogant but brilliant doctor as he is able to get into the head of the doctor operating at Carter. There is a nice bit with Ernest Borgnine playing a caring husband whose wife is dying and Gates taking care of him. There is also a nice storyline involving Neela who gives a woman a heart transplant, cheering up her young daughter who had had been forming a kinship with Brenner. The best part however is seeing Carter and Benton after the surgery and Benton telling Carter to call his wife, and of course the ending of the episode where Hathaway and Ross are in bad and they receive a phone call informing them that a heart went to Chicago as well as Kidney to "Some doctor" obviously they don't know it's Carter. Which is better because that would be a little bit weird. The episode worked and was able to show the lives of the characters after they left the ER Including Ross and Hathaway who work in a Seattle clinic, and Ross's character has stopped trying to be the Maverick breaking all the rules, but still the guy with a heart who cares for his patients. It was great seeing 4 former cast members from the first season in the same episode. It was truly a delight, and I have to give credit to George Clooney. A lot of starts at his position would probably say they are too big to appear on a dying show, but Clooney appeared alright, and he nailed his performance. Despite a lack of real promotion. Great episode, and a fitting end to Ross and Hathaway though Benton and Carter appear again in the finale.
  • An amazing gift!

    I would like to thank the writers for giving us such a beautiful season finale.

    The show sure had its ups and downs over the years but they really pull it off for the very last one.

    It is so well written that even though the former actors have not been on the show for nearly ten years they totally fit in and they don't seem to be coming from out of the blue.

    What a great pleasure to see Dr Ross and nurse Hattaway together, finally living happy.

    How great it was to see Dr. Benton! I've always loved the chemistry he shared with Carter. Once again, in times of trouble, he's there for him.

    What happened at County was almost useless but we can see that the show came as a full circle. The new docs there don't know any of the former ones but life goes on...

    I just wish Brenner had never been introduced because I really don't like him.

    Bottom line: I can't wait to see the final episode, even though I know it will break my heart... I've grown up with this show and I'll definitely miss it...

    George Clooney is the ORIGINAL McDreamy!!! never ever gave grey's anatomy the time of day, havent seen one single episode out of loyalty toward ER and thursday night that loyalty was paid of! Doug, Carol and Peter made some really special (much anticipated) cameos, and they couldnt have come at a better time. john needs a kidney and carol and doug provide one, not knowing carter is the recipient. peter visits john as he waits for the kdney. it broke my heart when doug asked about former collegues and neela and sam had no idea as to whom he was refering to(have they no sense of history?) amazing amazing amazing. this episode lived up to all the hype that was built up in the weeks leading up to it. By far one of the Best episodes of the series. it was as if they never left, george, julianna and eric. they just put on the scrubs and they were back where thet belonged. LOVED this episode, am not looking forward to the series finale, as that would be an and of an era!!!
  • A very touching episode. It was nice to see some of the people from the beginning of ER. I was in tears when I saw Dr. Ross, Nurse Hathaway, and Dr. Benton.

    It was nice how they had Dr. Ross and Nurse Hathaway be on the transplant team which eventually helped Dr. Carter. It was also very nice to see Dr. Benton (previous a mentor for Dr. Carter) be at Dr. Carter's side in his time of need. I was in tear watching the whole episode. It was definitely an episode to be remembered. The writers did a great job in drawing all the characters together in this episode. What shock me the most was seeing George Clooney back in ER. I didn't know he was going to be a guest star in the show. I have heard rumors that he might be back but it was not confirmed. I was very happy to see that his character is still with his wife, Nurse Hathaway. They look great.
  • It's the old gang...

    Oh, man. I don't think enough words can describe how darn good this episode was. How long has it been since, Carter, Benton, Hathaway, and Ross have all been in the same episode? Quite awhile by my count. I was surprised that NBC didn't advertise george coming back in the episode, they probably could have got a heck of alot of viewers from that, but all the same it was cool to see him. I liked the moment between him Neela and Sam. Naming all the doctors that have been there, except carter which was a little weird. The Benton Carter scenes were also amazing, I was hoping that Benton was going to do Carter's surgery as it would make sense for the old friend to help out. Carter got his Kidney which was a little emotional when he called Kem. I had figured that Hathaway and Ross would go back to county but maybe in the finale. I had to laugh at the end when they talked about the kidney and said it went to some doctor, totallt oblivious to the fact that it was carter who got it. I wonder if they would've rushed to see him if they knew? Anyway as the season goes on the episodes are getting better, and this episode is a fine example of that.
  • A very very brilliant episode. One I will remember

    I've watched programme from when it began & I am excited & also sad to see it end.

    It was excellent the way to show the lives of characters from past & present still converging even though they are many miles apart & they don't even know it.

    Doug Ross, Carole Hathaway & Peter Benson returning & it was after if their characters never left. This is a lovely way to wrap up "the beginning of the end, & to update you give you a back story for those who had been missing for a long time.

    Also, will Dr Banfield have a family of her own again? I hope so.
  • This will be one of THE all time memorable episodes of E.R. I was still crying long after the credits.

    Seeing Carol & Doug Ross as well as Peter Benton was such a bonus, tying up loose threads for the faithful fans. I too, was disappointed that Doug & Carol didn't get to know that the kidney was for Carter, knowing that they are still together. I would have expected them to have more kids ~ Doug being a paediatrician & all

    Benton says Reese is 13 ~ he should be 11, he was named in episode 2 of Season 4 (Oct '97) & the twins would be 8 (Nov '99) by now.

    So now we have caught up with Corday, Carter, Benton, and the Rosses, who else have they got in store for us?

    It is hard to see how the last few episodes can top this outstanding calibre.