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Go ahead and weep for ER, but it is no St. Elsewhere

It is a national day and night of celebration and mourning for fans of the long-running ER.

I realize how dangerous it is to say anything less than gushing when fans are grappling with separation anxiety as they are today. But the truth is that St. Elsewhere was a more important and better medical drama. It was far more innovative, with much better writing. It was also groundbreaking in its handling of adult subject matter, and I dare anyone to come back here after the final credits roll and tell me that tonight's finale was better than the brilliant ending of St. Elsewhere. Remember the child and the snowy globe?

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ER was a medical drama that wanted to be a soap opera, St. Elsewhere was a medical drama that wanted to be a Samuel Beckett play.

Still, ER was a great drama in terms of its cast and 15-year run, if nothing else, and tonight's finale does mark the end of an era.

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Here's what I said in a piece on the finale at cnn.com, and I believe history will bear me out.

You can read the full cnn.com story on ER's finale by Lisa Respers France here. And while just the gift of George Clooney would be enough to celebrate ER, let's not mis-remember how great St. Elsewhere was. In fact, I am going back tonight to watch the Elsewhere ending again. I'll save my tears for that long-ago and far-away TV moment.

(Above: NBC photo of Eriq La Salle and Noah Wyle in tonight's ER finale by James Stenson)

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