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Universal / 1978 / 540 Minutes / Unrated / Street Date: March 29, 2011
A unique blend of action and medical drama, Emergency! may not have the emotional gravitas of, say Hill Street Blues, but it doesn't shy away from good old-fashioned suspense, and this excitement is what sets the show apart from the pack. Well, that and its obvious influence: Even though the rigors of Emergency! have a somewhat antiquated camp value to them, the seeds of ER and Grey's Anatomy are definitely here for all to see.
In the show, we follow paramedics Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe) and John Gage (Randolph Mantooth), who are basically the greatest assets Los Angeles county owns - these guys and their paramedic team will go into any situation at any time with the sole intent of saving folks at the center of their collective purpose. Sure, it's better when they're called to help out a fainting bathing beauty than to a cliffhanging terror in Santa Rosa County, but regardless of your shape or creed, these dudes will stop what they're doing and come help you out if there's a problem.
The six TV-movies that comprised the show's last season are included on this The Final Rescues DVD box set: The Steel Inferno, Survival on Charter #220, Most Deadly Passage, Greatest Rescues of Emergency!, What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing..., and The Convention. They're not as giggly and enjoyable as similar episodes of, say, The A-Team, nor do they have the futuristic sheen of Knight Rider, but Emergency! is almost western in its syntax: Roy and John saunter into town trying to save as many women and children from bad guys (or bad situations) as possible, then leave town when they're done.
Yeah, I know - that metaphor is full of holes - but there's an inevitable knight-in-shining-armor sentiment to Emergency! that I don't think can be entirely ignored. Sure, this headstrong altruism is coupled with very real danger - there's an attempt at realism in many of the sequences here that definitely take the kiddie gloves off - but even as a collection of episodes that don't showcase Emergency! at its best, this Final Rescues set is not without its merits: It may not present the series at its most impressive, but it's darned engaging retro television.