My junior year of high school I was very into the work of Michael Crichton. I had read everything that he had written, including Travels, his memoir. I was very into the paranormal, and a large part of Travels had to do with Crichton's thoughts and experiences dealing with some paranormal occurrences (or Fringe science as JJ Abrams might put it). I would often bring up these experiences of Crichton's as well as other paranormal articles and such that I had found in my Chemistry II class. Our teacher in Chem II was not fond of the idea of paranormal "pseudo science" and would often tell me how wrong both myself and Crichton were. "But he was a Doctor, Mrs. Diehl," I would say. "That's a lot like a scientist." She would smirk and say, "He's also a writer," knowing full well that a writer is what I wanted to be, implying that we writers were gullible enough to believe anything in service of a good story.
When I heard last week that Michael Crichton had died, I was stunned. I hadn't even known that he was sick. As the years have gone by, I'm no longer the huge fan of Crichton's that I once was, but I still appreciated him and remember fondly how much I loved reading Jurassic Park, Sphere, and The Andromeda Strain for the first time.
In that junior year of high school, two new medical dramas started. Due to my love for Michael Crichton (and Mrs. Diehl's disdain for him) it wasn't surprising that we would be on separate sides of the great Medical Show Debate war. I was all about ER (created by Michael Crichton) and Mrs. Diehl believed in Chicago Hope. The entire class took sides. I was thrilled by ER, as it was very reminiscent of the early part of Travels when Crichton talked about his time as an intern for a hospital. I loved the characters and how real it all seemed, much more so then any other medical drama before it and certainly more so then the David E. Kelley show Chicago Hope which was less a medical drama and more a Kelley-esque character drama.
For years I watched ER faithfully, sure that this was the best television had to offer, and for a long time it was. Slowly, however, the show became less a ground breaking medical show and became more of a standard television medical drama dealing more with the home lives of some of the characters then the interesting and realistic cases that came through the ER doors. It started to become much more soapy then it had been originally, and I didn't like that, but I cared enough about the characters that I stuck with it.
That finally changed 6 years ago, however, eight seasons into the television show when Dr. Greene, the heart and soul of the show, was killed off. I hadn't watched an episode since.
Then last week, Michael Crichton died, and I began to remember all the works that he had a part in that I had enjoyed so much, and ER was definitely part of that legacy that he had left behind.
It was fitting in my mind that so soon after he died, Dr. Greene was scheduled to return to Cook County General in honor of ER's final (finally) season.
I watched it, and for the small part of the episode that was set 6 years in the past I remembered how good this show used to be (as well as remembering why I stopped watching with all the new characters none of whom I recognized or cared about). It was short, but it was good to see Dr. Greene, Dr. Weaver, Dr. Romano (still an ass), and Jerry (still awesome). I was upset it took so long to get to the characters I knew and missed, and upset that it was such a small part of the episode, but it was still nice to spend even a little time with the show that I remembered in honor of the author who helped make Cook County a place to visit every Thursday for eight years.
Thank you for ER, for Jurassic Park, for Sphere, for Andromeda Strain, for Twister, and for all the other works that fired up my imagination. Although I'm not the fan I once was, I want you to know that you will be missed. And thanks to the short visit from beyond the grave last night by Dr. Greene, we're reminded that we can always have a little visit with you by revisiting one of the many works you've given us to remember you by.
Until Next Time,
Rest in peace Michael Crichton and thank you.