Here's what TV critic Mary McNamara had to say about some of the star power that was on display in Thursday night's episode of 'ER':
"It was as if none of his movie success ever happened. There was George Clooney, stunningly accessorized with scrubs, stethoscope and Julianna Margulies, looking for all the world as if he had never left the mother planet of 'ER. As if he and his alter ego Doug Ross had been simply living an alternate life in Seattle, raising the twins with Nurse Carol, no doubt doing a lot of volunteer work, waiting perhaps for John Wells to pull a Shonda Rhimes, send them to Malibu, give them their own spinoff show."
Well, he WAS living his life in Seattle; that's the whole point of Toobworld! Just because a show goes off the air, or a character leaves before the series has ended, that doesn't mean they enter some stasis chamber and remain frozen until needed again. In the thirty plus years between his last appearance on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' and his guest appearance on an episode of 'Mad About You', Alan Brady led a full life on Earth Prime-Time, unseen by the audience in the Trueniverse. He probably changed networks, tried a movie career, revived his career with a few shows on Broadway, maybe even divorced Mel's sister.
And the same would hold true for Doug Ross. (We already know about his life before he was at County - he worked across town at another 'E/R' while he was studying to be a doctor. But of course back then he was still going by his college nickname of "Ace"....