I wish I could say that “Grey’s Anatomy” is off to a brilliant start in ’09, but I can’t. I felt last week’s episode was so-so, and last night’s followed suit. Neither episode was bad, but they weren’t that great either. Maybe I expect too much because the show’s been so good for so long. Maybe it’s hit a rough patch, or perhaps, and I hope this isn’t the case, “Grey’s” has run its course. It kills me to say that, but I feel as there have been more so-so episodes lately than very good ones. The last episode I thought that was very good was the seventh episode of this season, “Rise Up,” when Hahn and Izzie were treating the patient whom Izzie stole the heart from. Since then, the show has been average at best.
If I were doing my Season 5 Preview now using lines from “Ducks 2,” I would have to add this line in there, “You better get the (darn) magic and you better get it fast. Otherwise I’m out of a job and you’re back to Balookaville, Minnesota, shoveling snow and sharpening skates.” And that would have to go to Shonda Rhimes, “Grey’s” creator and show runner, who’s responsible for this mess. Although in all honesty, this show isn’t going anywhere. The ratings are too good, and networks will settle for less quality if the ratings quantity is good. What’s also is fortunate for “Grey’s” is that when the show is on its “A” game, it’s really good, so average episodes aren’t awful (kind of like “Seinfeld”). They just seem that way in relation to how great the show can be.
I have no idea where the show slipped either. Part of me thinks it’s because there are too many cast members, which was one of my concerns in September. Plotlines get spread too thin when a writer is trying to get 12 people screen time. The show was at its best early in the series when there were fewer cast members; the writing was tighter and there weren’t quite as many storylines in each episode. For example last night there, were seven separate storylines in the episode. Seven!!! That’s way too many in my book. Wouldn’t it have been a better, more fluid episode if Callie’s and Izzie’s storylines were put on the bench, and we got to see more of Meredith handling meeting Derek’s mom and well as dealing with the serial killer patient. Combine those two meaty storylines with a solid “C” storyline of Alex, Bailey and Arizona trying to get organs for Jackson, a passable “D” storyline of Cristina and Owen getting ready for their first date and tack on the McSteamy-Lexie stuff (I would have been for benching them for a week too, but that wouldn’t have worked since Mark had that important interaction with Derek’s mom). By cutting just two storylines out of last night’s show, I think it would have been a better episode.
The other reason I think the show has been of its game a bit is because the writers are handcuffed creatively. How much more can they do with these characters? There have been some baby steps taken in advancing the characters development, especially with Derek and Meredith’s relationship. I also feel that Alex and Sloan have been deepened very well. Other than that, there seems to be a creative standstill; the writers can’t advance storylines too quickly because they’d run the risk of running out of material before the series was ready to end (read: “O.C, The”). A lot of people agree that after a miserable first half of “Lost’s” third season, the show got very good again once the crew got a series end date. Maybe “Grey’s” needs the same thing. Then they’ll know how quickly or slowly they need to pace the story arcs.
Well, there’s my two cents on the state of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Let’s dive into last night’s show, shall we….
THUMBS UP: To the strong guest star appearances by Eric Stoltz and Tyne Daly (Derek’s mother). I expressed my love of Stoltz’ performance last week, but I had to mention his work again here. As for Daly, I thought she was fine in the role, but what I think I really liked about it was how the part was written. Too many times on TV we see the future mother-in-law as this loud, overbearing, disapproving character. It was great to see that Derek’s mom was written as regular person, who liked Meredith for who she was. She liked her so much in fact, that she gave Derek a ring to give Meredith when he’s ready! Did anyone else notice that she and Derek’s hair were pretty much styled the same way?
THUMBS DOWN: To the silly leg extension case. It was unnecessary and felt like filler. I know it was meant to serve as a metaphor for Callie, but there had to be a better way for her to learn to, “walk tall” again.
THUMBS UP: To Dr. McSteamy, who moves up the ranks among my favorite “Grey’s” characters. He cracks me up just about every episode. I loved when he quietly snuck out the door after “getting together” with Lexie, and then bumped into Derek and played if off as if we wanted to see if he wanted to grab a drink even though it was 4 a.m. I loved his interactions with Derek’s mom, and the fact that he still calls her, “Mrs. Shepherd.” I thought it was great when he was confessing to her about Lexie, that she thought he was talking about Meredith (“Not again!”). If he was just funny, he’d be a great character, but he can go dramatic on you too. He was very convincing when he gave Callie her pep talk of the week of getting back out there.
THUMBS DOWN: To the ongoing, torturous Izzie-Denny storyline. Need I say more? For the second week in a row, Izzie broke up with him. But something tells me that he’ll be popping up next week too. What was up with him telling Alex, “We need to talk” at the end of the episode? I really, really would like to know when Shonda Rhimes was thinking when she came up with this storyline. I know she said she was going to take a chance on a love story for Izzie this year, but I never imagined it would be this wacky. It’s so sad what’s been done to such a lovable character.
THUMBS UP: To Alex, who continues to grow on me every week as well. I’m amazed at well he’s handled working with Jackson, I have to say I think a lot of that comes from Addison’s influence. Also, who would have thought from the way he’s acted all series long, he’d end up inviting Izzie to meet his mother? I didn’t even mind when he chewed out Dr. Robbins on the plane for asking him about Valentine’s Day after they took the organs from a kid. And I can’t leave out how much I loved how he told Dr. Robbins and Bailey to shut up, respectively of course. Speaking of which….
THUMBS DOWN: To the constant power struggle between Bailey and Dr. Robbins. Enough with this already. Can’t these two just agree to disagree? Their bickering is so annoying. It has really shown the stubborn side of Bailey, who is a great doctor, but she really needs to defer to the attending, doesn’t she? I did like the Dr. Robbins’ peace offering of letting Bailey close up Jackson. Thankfully, Sadie raised her hand (I was on Sadie’s side when she asked Bailey if that was a joke. Not a great moment for Bailey there) in time to notice a spot on one of the organs. Speaking of the organs, it was no surprise that something was going to be wrong with the organs once it was revealed that William was a match. The writers couldn’t (and shouldn’t) let a situation like that go to waste.
THUMBS DOWN: To Dr. Owen Hunt for showing up to his Cristina’s for their first date late and drunk. I understand he was nervous, but are we really supposed to believe he’d blow his chances with her like that? I did get a kick out of him showering in his suit though. There’s something definitely off about him though. He acted very strangely whenever Derek’s mom asked him about his service and if he was sleeping alright. And finally….
THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN (I’M NOT SURE): To Meredith for covertly telling William how he could die in the hospital and be an organ donor for Jackson. I don’t know how to feel about that. I guess it boils down to the killer’s question, “Are you doing this for me or the kid?” If she’s doing it for Jackson, it’s definitely a “Thumbs Up.” If she’s doing it for William, well that’s a whole other issue. I will say it is becoming clearer how he’s going to be coming in between Derek and Meredith like Eric Stoltz teased in his interview with TVGuide.com a last week.
OK a few random thoughts and I’m done:
*T.R. Knight watch: I seriously think saying he got five minutes of screen time would be generous. I know he was in the opening scene at Meredith’s house, and I think he got one more scene at the hospital. I’ll have to double check that one though.
*That was a mighty high ponytail Meredith had going, wasn’t it?
*Is it me or are the promos for “Private Practice” getting more intense? I know the show got criticized early on for being too sophomoric and silly, but now it looks like it’s gone too far the other way.
*Lines of the Week”:
-“She’s holding that tequila bottle like it’s a life vest.”
-“Three-day liquidation sale—everything must go.”
-“You sleep with me, you lunch with me, new rule.”
-“You’re talking about rainbows and relationships and crap.”
-“You have the maturity of a horny 15-year-old.”
-“Walk tall, Dr. Torres.”
-“If it helps you sleep at night.”
So, what did you think of the episode? Am I being too tough on the show? Feel free to comment below!
Joe Dyton can be reached at email@example.com.