Wow, do we owe Michael Crichton a debt of thanks! The physician/author who died today took his medical education and turned it into a literary career of remarkable accomplishment. And as the genius behind the runaway television series, he opened the swinging doors to the chaos and wonder of the ER. And he held them open wide for the world to see.
His writing was clear and exhilarating. His characters pulled us into worlds we never imagined, from dinosaurs gone wild to Beowulf reborn, from time travel to global warming and beyond. And he was fearless in his confrontation of modern cultural phenomena with which he disagreed.
And for physicians, especially those in emergency medicine, he gave the public a magical view of the heart-breaking decisions, constant struggles and endless hope of work in a busy, urban emergency department. Furthermore, he revealed physicians for what they are in a post-Marcus Welby world of medical television: flawed, broken, caring, bright, talented, dedicated, exhausted, loving, hateful and utterly, unabashedly human.
I always thought that the ER characters were a bit over-wrought at times. A little too much drama for my taste. But that’s television for you. Hyperbole is its constant tool.
We can thank Dr. Crichton for taking his talent, his passion, his insight and using it as few ever do in life. And we can thank him for giving voice to all of us who, though seldom television stars, continue to live the ER life.
So long you genius! You’ll be sorely missed. Somewhere, we’ll have to leave a gurney in a room, in the dark, empty, in memory of your departure to higher, brighter places where ER’s are no longer necessary, time is a distant vapor, heroes feast and dinosaurs may be seen walking down the street.
Hope to see you there!