Re Howard Rosenberg's "Now That the Hype-odermic Has Worn Off" (Sept. 27): Thanks Howard, for wrapping your lips around the point--quality vs. gimmick--while others are breaking their arms with self-backslapping. For what? For giving us screaming and running instead of acting? And a lunging camera that jolted up people's noses and swished across the floor? For hanging too long on close-ups and forgetting that chaos is not plot. "Getting through it" is not storytelling. The vomit said it all. And there was even too much of that.
I am a huge fan of the show "ER" and along with about 50 million people was expecting the live episode of "ER" to be something to remember. Well, unfortunately the only thing I'll remember about this episode is how I, along with many others, was tricked into believing that the entire episode was going to be live.
As the lights came on in the opening scene and Julianna Margulies was in the doctors lounge, something in the lounge caught my attention--the Houston Astros-Chicago Cubs baseball game was on the TV in the background. Hold on--I was watching that game at 5 p.m. on WGN, and the game was over at 7:45 p.m. How could they be shooting this live on the West Coast at 10 p.m. if the game was over two hours and 15 minutes ago? Then, George Clooney and Anthony Edwards were in the doctors lounge about 10 minutes later, and the game was on the TV again. I thought they were shooting it live?
I read Brian Lowry's article "43 Million Watch NBC's Live 'ER'; 'Seinfeld' Hits Record Too" (Sept. 27), and he wrote about the HIV-infected patient, and the baby not crying. What about the baseball game?
Editor's Note: There was some trickery involved, but the episode was indeed live. In the East Coast version, Clooney gave the score of the game in real time, as it was being played. For the later airing, a tape of the game was run, and Clooney mentioned the final score.
After reading Howard Rosenberg's review of the live "ER" broadcast, I think it's time the worthy critic come out of his dark tube-filled room and remember that acting at its best is about taking risks. I can agree that the hype was ignoble as most hype is, but that in no way lessens the achievement. Live TV was not and still is not "almost always inferior." The energy and the focus of the performers in the live episode of "ER" was palpable. And surely Rosenberg must remember the Philco Playhouse, the G.E. Theater hour, the U.S. Steel show and countless other hours of live television that are still unequaled in the caliber of acting they brought to the viewers. Art is about taking risks, art is about working without a safety net. When you don't, you end up with the string of vapid half-hours that television currently spoon feeds us.