Every TV generation has its most trusted doctor. Decades ago it was Marcus Welby. Then it was Hawkeye Pierce, jokes and all.
For the last eight years it has been Mark Greene, the essence of "ER," the harried but cool everyman who brought an air of heightened realism to the frenzied proceedings at County General.
There was always something reassuring about the bespectacled gaze of the actor who inhabited Greene's character, Anthony Edwards. He had the focus of a skilled, tireless practitioner. But it was more than a look. The way he carried himself, you knew he belonged in scrubs, never in street clothes.
If your medical plan allowed you to choose a fictional doctor as your primary care provider, Greene is the one you would take.
He lived by his oath, and even the one time he didn't--when he let a murderer flat-line in an elevator--he brought an understated moral anguish to the episode.
The news of Dr. Greene's death last week stunned the hospital staff, if not the show's legion of fans (who knew Edwards planned to move on to other projects). Tonight's farewell show (10 p.m., NBC) flashes back to his final days as he tries to reconcile with his rebellious daughter. Whether he succeeds or not, we'll always know that Dr. Greene, like Edwards, made the most of his time.
Mark Greene: Unassuming, unflappable, unforgettable.