Fresh off of the success of Pulp Fiction, NBC was quick to snatch up Quentin Tarantino and have him direct an episode of its soon-to-be-smash hit medical series ER. Tarantino delivered “Motherhood,” the penultimate episode of the first season, which drew in 33 million viewers when it aired in May 1995. However, during a recent cast reunion, Julianna Marguiles revealed that Tarantino was apparently a little paranoid about NBC messing with his work, so he devised a crafty method of filming the episode that initially left the cast a little confused. Via IndieWire:
“When Quentin Tarantino came to direct us, he was such a big fan of the show, he only did one take,” Margulies said. “So they didn’t have a choice to edit. We would rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. We would do one take and he would go, ‘Great, let’s move on!’ And I asked him why he was doing that and he said, ‘It’ll be my cut no matter what.’”
Considering Tarantino is one of the biggest auteurs in Hollywood and has a signature style that’s been the catalyst for his success, it’s interesting to imagine a time when he was still afraid of studio interference and had to come up with clever methods to protect his work, even for TV. Especially since, back in the 90s, doing TV work was sometimes looked down on, with the days of Prestige TV and a blurring of the lines between big and small screens still a few years off. Although, one could argue that ER set the stage for TV to finally get the respect it deserved. Leave it to someone like Tarantino to be at the forefront of having prescient respect for the medium. In any event, whatever his reasons for doing it, this is still really, really funny.