Edwards is among the departed to return to ‘ER’

By Kevin McDonough

United Feature Syndicate

"ER" (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) reminds us that November sweeps has begun in earnest. Fifteen years of hostage crises, shootouts, car, bus and plane accidents and errant helicopter blades can distract viewers from the fact that everyday hospital dramas can be most powerful when they are intensely intimate.

The drama returns to fine form tonight when a touch-and-go case involving a 3-year-old girl triggers painful memories for Dr. Cate Banfield (Angela Bassett). She recalls her own trips to County General with her 5-year-old son.

Banfield’s story and flashbacks all but dominate the hour, relegating a subplot about Gates’ (John Stamos) efforts to help a dispossessed veteran to the sidelines. Banfield’s recollections include an encounter with Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards), allowing the "ER" faithful to visit with a departed favorite. Look out for some other ghosts and ex-employees in cameos.


It’s sad to note that this "ER" reunion airs just a week after the death of series producer and creator Michael Crichton.

  • For decades, a General Motors plant dominated the town of Anderson, Ind. GM may have left town and taken 33,000 jobs with it, but the folks in Anderson still have cars in their blood. Every Friday night, they turn out by the thousands to the local speedway, where locals engage in races that leave vehicles more banged up than cars at a demolition derby. The documentary "Dirty Driving: Thundercars of Indiana" (9 p.m., HBO) looks at the speedway scene and the resilient car culture it represents.

Other highlights

  • Jeff Probst hosts "Survivor" (7 p.m., CBS).
  • Earl’s cousin (Jason Priestly) makes him feel insecure on "My Name is Earl" (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
  • Betty tries to defuse a public-relations time bomb on "Ugly Betty" (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).
  • Gloria Estefan is honored at the Latin Grammy Awards 2008 (7 p.m., Univision) broadcast from Houston, Texas.
  • After a shootout, witnesses prove hard to find on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14,V).
  • Michael plans a trip to Canada on "The Office" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
  • Ellen Burstyn stars in the 2007 drama "The Stone Angel" (8 p.m., Hallmark).
  • Jennifer Aniston and the cast of "Night Court" cameo on "30 Rock" (8:30 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).

Series notes
Gordon Ramsay hosts "Kitchen Nightmares" (7 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) … Brainiac gives Chloe’s memory a light rinse on "Smallville" (7 p.m., CW, TV-PG,D,L,V) … A visit proves illuminating on "Kath & Kim" (7:30 p.m., NBC, TV-14) … An old friend of Meredith’s joins as an intern on "Grey’s Anatomy" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-14) … The boys meet a girl capable of hearing angels on "Supernatural" (8 p.m., CW, TV-14,D,L,V).

Late night

Bill O’Reilly is scheduled on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (10 p.m., Comedy Central) … Bruce Willis and Sia appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) … Jay Leno hosts Anderson Cooper and Sarah McLachlan on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC) … Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko appear on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" (11:05 p.m., ABC) … Paul Rudd, John Stamos and Boz Scaggs chat on "Late Night with Conan O’Brien" (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Craig Ferguson hosts Andy Richter and Cold War Kids on "The Late, Late Show" (11:37 p.m., CBS).

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