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Get Jerry to the ER, Stat!

Jerry Where's Jerry?

Without a doubt, you've assumed that I am thinking about Jerry Seinfeld, and you're all ready to tell me, because you think you're so damned smart, that he hosted the season premiere of Saturday Night Live a little while back.

But I'm not talking about that Jerry. I want to know where the other Thursday night Jerry is... that big, burly jester who could always be counted on to provide a little comic relief in the big bad realm of the Windy City's busiest ER.

So far this season, he has not made a single appearance in the ER.

Sure, there's the everyman Dr. Greene, the driven, efficient Dr. Weaver, the innocent Dr. Carter, and the kind and gentle Nurse Hathaway -- all given interesting story lines and character arcs to keep us entertained. I'll admit that I can still get caught up in the trials and tribulations experienced by these characters even though the show they operate within seems to be recycling the same old crises over and over again.

But Jerry, the big, give-me-a-bear-hug-now guy who sits at the front desk, is on a totally different level. I know he's not a doctor. He's not even a nurse. He's essentially the receptionist. But he's not working at a dentist's office. The ER is a place where lives are on the line, damnit. And Jerry is the glue that keeps the constant chaos in the ER from burbling up like blood from a lacerated and irreparable aorta.

Think about it like this: when the shit hits the fan in the ER, Dr. Greene, Dr. Benton and the rest of the ER doctors insert those tubes, bark orders to the nurses and do some serious life saving; that's important work, yes, but the doctors would not all be gathered around that patient if Jerry hadn't bounded through the halls to let them all know they were needed, immediately.

And when Jerry picks up the phone to track down a doctor who is not on the premises, he does it with the quick efficiency of a sharp scalpel on skin.

"Jerry, find Dr. Benton, now!"

We see Jerry sit up from his stool and pick up the phone. The camera may rush through the swivel doors and take us to where the patient in need is lying, but we know that Jerry that is contributing to the heroics of the ER department by dialing the numbers on the phone efficiently, even vehemently, and doing all that he can to track down Dr. Benton.

I really want to know how the ER is currently functioning without Jerry. I mean, do the writers of the show think we're all idiots? Who is getting Dr. Weaver her charts? Who is letting Dr. Greene know that his daughter is on the phone?

But aside from the serious lapse in realism, which is surely hurting the credibility of the show in medical circles, ER needs to get the humor and burliness of Jerry back on the show any way that it can. His complete and total lack of screen time this season is draining the life right out of the ER. We're talking about a flat line situation here.

Think about the receptionist roles on the very successful NYPD Blue as a case in point. The receptionists at the detective's squad on NYPD Blue may not be out there solving crimes and busting criminals, but they are an integral part of the show. One of the receptionists, John, went from simply being the gay hairdresser-on-the-side front desk boy who makes Detective Sipowicz uncomfortable, to taking a bullet and heroically letting the detectives know a gunman was about to try and kill someone in a courtroom.

And Dolores, another receptionist on NYPD Blue, went a little crazy, got involved in drugs and prostitution, and got the whole squad of detectives trying to help her out. Even her death was turned into a plot that lasted several episodes. Dolores may not have been getting any screen time, but her character was still a focal point of the show.

And who could forget Donna -- the voluptuous blond cutey who liked to watch hockey.

We don't even know which sport is Jerry's favorite.

It might be the case that the writers of the show are simply too snobby to give Jerry his due because, in their arrogant eyes, he's just the receptionist. No problem -- simply move Jerry beyond his role behind the front desk. Maybe he could secretly have been going to Medical school all these years, at night, similar to the way the original receptionist from The Practice (Rebecca) had been going to law school. Rebecca may be relegated to the smaller, less important side-cases with just a small portion of the screen time, but damnit, she's a full-fledged lawyer now. Note that The Practice is a bona fide hit show.

Other ideas for getting Jerry more involved in the show are:

* Jerry begins training to fulfill his dream of becoming the hot dog-eating champion of the world. Because Jerry trains so rigorously, the ER docs have to save him on several occasions, each time telling him he should slow down, that even if he doesn't become the champion, he'll still be loved by his friends in the ER.

* Jerry comes to terms with and admits his love for Dr. Greene. He starts bringing hot dogs to Dr. Greene just the way Dr. Greene likes them.

* Rebuffed one too many times by Dr. Greene, Jerry gets sinister and begins a campaign of terror in the ER. To make matters worse, Jerry discovers that Dr. Greene has been giving his specially-made hot dogs to Malik.

* Jerry, after unleashing a campaign of terror in the ER by serving poisoned hot dogs, realizes that he has done wrong and single-handedly saves the day by using medical skills he didn't even know he had.

These are just some ideas, of course.

ER, despite this season's clever story arc involving Hawkeye -- I mean Alan Alda -- is running out of interesting plots. There's been the bomb in the ER, the chemical contamination in the ER, and most recently, the crazed gunman shooting up the ER. Let's get Jerry to the ER, stat, to do some serious show saving, before we, the viewers, are treated to the next step: an alien invasion of the ER.


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