Anyone who regularly follows this blog will know that I’m a die-hard Dr Carter fan. However, I strongly believe that his character was only as good as it was because of his relationship with Peter Benton. Move over Mark and Doug, for me the best friendship that ER produced was that of Carter and Benton.
During the first episode, Carter, a med-student at the time, was assigned Benton as his resident. They didn’t have the smoothest of starts – Benton was frustrated by Carter’s lack of experience but slowly Carter learnt the ropes and earned his respect. While Benton was often arrogant and abrasive, Carter was always eager to please his mentor and, although Benton rarely showed it, he was proud of his protégé and was extremely annoyed when Carter chose to pursue a career in emergency medicine instead of one in surgery with him.
What made their friendship so enjoyable to watch, were the rare moments when Benton showed he cared for Carter, whether it was the odd kind word, sarcastic yet well meaning remark, or the bigger gestures like saving his life. For those of you that didn’t watch it, to Carter, Benton’s approval was like an X Factor contestant getting the all important wink from Simon Cowell. It didn’t come along very often, and when it did you knew it meant something.
In fact, my two equal favourite moments of the ER’s entire fifteen seasons involve the two of them. The first is the scene where we see Benton rushing down the stairs to the ER – he’s heard Carter’s been stabbed and he doesn’t care about who else might have been hurt, he just needs to get to Carter. If that wasn’t emotional enough, Benton ends up operating on him. Before he goes under Carter says “I’m glad it’s you.” Talk about a tug on the heart strings!
The second happened in the final episode of season six. The ER staff realise that Carter has developed a drug problem following the stabbing. After a messy intervention, which leads to Carter storming out the hospital, Benton catches up with him and tries to convince him to save his career and fly to a rehab clinic in Atlanta. Carter punches him the face. A few minutes later we see that Carter actually got on the plane, which we’re all relieved about, then the camera pans round to show Benton sitting next to him. I’m welling up now just thinking about it.
Here are some classic Carter/Benton moments on this montage I tracked down on YouTube.
Benton taught Carter everything he knew. In Carter’s words “I’m a good doctor because of you,” and I think all viewers would agree that Benton had the most significant impact on Carter’s character. It was quite fitting that their friendship was remembered and celebrated in the final few episodes – because for me, it’s what made ER.
One last thing, I found the cutest clip of Noah Wyle and Eriq La Salle on a break on set the other day…
Noah pops up behind him and gives him a kiss and a hug. It was so adorable, I love that they love each other in real life as well as the show.