After the wild ride that was “Grey’s Antomy’s” fifth season, I thought it deserved some analysis. Overall, I thought the season was pretty good. Uneven, but good. It started out just fine, but got derailed in the middle by the Denny thing and way too many things going on in too many episodes. I thought the show redeemed itself down the stretch when the Denny appearances began to fade and there was less going on each hour. The show found its focus again. And believe me, I’d much rather the season be weak earlier and get better than the other way around.
Below are some other thoughts and some awards. Like my Season 5 preview, I adopted a format from one of my favorite writers, ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons, and used lines from another one of my favorite movies, “Office Space.” I figured why not use a workplace movie to dissect a workplace show.
Here are my other thoughts about “Grey’s” Season Five….
1) “Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment. Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment. Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment. Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment. Corporate accounts payable, Nina speaking. Just a moment.”
The most repetitive sequence in the movie has to go the most redundant storyline of the season: the Cristina and Owen romance. How many times did we see these two get together, hit a roadblock, bump into one another followed by awkward silence and stares? This went on all season! Like I mentioned in my season finale recap, now that Owen claims he’s well, I hope that he and Cristina can just be a regular run-of-the-mill couple with the occasional argument like Derek and Meredith.
2) “I gotta get out of here, I think I’m gonna lose it.”
(a) “I’d say in a given week, I do about 15 minutes of real, actual work.”
(b) “What would you say…you do here?”
(c) “I don’t like my job, and I don’t think I’m going to go anymore.”
All of the above go to Mr. T.R. Knight. The poor guy got so little screen time this season, he was rumored to want to leave a full-time gig on one of the most popular TV shows in the world. This isn’t Patrick Dempsey, who if he left the show, he’d find a role somewhere else in about 30 seconds. T.R. Knight, while very talented, was a relative unknown before he was cast on “Grey’s,” so I can’t think there would be any guarantees that he’d be employed right away. That should show just how badly he wanted out of his contract. Will he get his wish? I guess we’ll find out in September.
3) “What if we’re still doing this when we’re 50?”
This one is shared between the cast of “Grey’s” and the show’s fans. Originally, I believe “Grey’s” creator Shonda Rhimes had a seven-season plan in her head for the show. Now she’s saying she has no end date in mind. That must be music to ABC’s ears since “Lost” will be over next year, and if “Desperate Housewives” ends in the next season or two, ABC is going to want to keep “Grey’s” around for as long as possible. There’s no way they’ll want to lose all three of their signature hour-long shows in such a short span of time. So, we could be looking at “Grey’s” having an “ER” like run where the show is driven into the ground for so many years past its prime that we don’t even recognize it anymore. “ER” ran for 15 seasons; “Grey’s” just finished its fifth. Could you imagine watching this show for 10 more years? I can’t, and it’s one of my favorites.
4) “You know there are people in this world who don’t have to put up with this (stuff)?”
To poor Brooke Smith. The woman gets one of the biggest, if not the biggest, career boost of her life with a full-time gig on “Grey’s,” only to have the rug pulled from under her when ABC fell out of love with the Dr. Hahn character. It’s been well documented that I was never a big fan of Dr. Hahn, but Brooke Smith didn’t deserve to be fired. She did a great job in the role, and if the writers were given a little more time, I’m sure they could have fleshed out her character a little bit more. Speaking of which, are we ever going to find out what happened to Dr. Hahn?
5) “That’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard in my life.” “Yes, this idea is horrible.”
I think it goes without saying this goes to bringing Denny back for a multi-episode arc to represent the cancer that spread to Izzie’s brain. I thought “Grey’s” hit it’s all-time low when Izzie was experiencing “get-togethers” with her deceased fiancé. But, that’s just me. What bothered me the most what that Denny was one of the most likable characters to walk the halls of Seattle Grace and he was ruined for me this season. I thought the writers would have learned their lesson with the Ava debacle last season, but I guess I was wrong. I think every TV show should have a common fan sit in the writers’ room and wave their hand when bad ideas like “Izzie will consistently hallucinate her dead fiancé to the point they end up “getting together” or “an attending pediatric surgeon will get into an argument with her girlfriend in the middle of a busy ER,” come about. I think that would be a fun job actually.
This also goes to other bad ideas this season like turning the Chief, one of the show’s most grounded, well-liked characters, into an unlikable, numbers-obsessed company man and turning Callie, one of the shows strongest, level headed characters into a blubbering fool at times (was there anything more painful than when she approached Arizona at Joe’s Bar when AZ was on a date?) and a whiner. I also thought it was a bad idea to throw Callie right back into a relationship after she broke up with Dr. Hahn. I think her character would have been better served to take some time for herself after the break-up.
6) “What am I going to do with 40 subscriptions to ‘Vibe’?”
I’m sure the writers felt as overwhelmed as Peter did when they had to shoehorn all of these characters into an hour’s worth of show. I liked Dr. Hunt a lot and Arizona didn’t bother me terribly, but as character after character got added to this cast, I felt the quality of the episodes wasn’t as good. The writers were trying to squeeze everyone in to each episode and stronger storylines were getting deprived of quality time to make room for the “D” and “E” (and sometimes “F” and “G”!) storylines. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the show got stronger once episodes were focused on a couple of characters each week and if others didn’t have that much to do, than so be it. If George and/or Izzie don’t return next season, I hope they aren’t replaced. The show was at its best when the cast was smaller.
7) “If you hang in there long enough, good things can happen in this world. I mean, look at me.”
This could be Katherine Heigl’s mantra, right? She publicly threw the “Grey’s” writing staff under the bus by saying she wasn’t given material worth submitting to the Emmy committee. Then, she reportedly wanted off of the show. Instead, she stuck it out, got an excellent story arc this season and is now clearing space on her mantle for another potential Best Supporting Actress Emmy Award. I guess it’s true that the squeaky door gets the oil. Speaking of Heigl….
8) “What if – and believe me this is a hypothetical – but what if you were offered some kind of a stock option equity sharing program. Would that do anything for you?”
I can’t help but wonder what ABC and the show’s producers are willing to offer Heigl and Knight to keep them on the show. More money? More screen time? Script approval on all of their character’s storylines in the future? Honestly, I think if they want to leave, let them go.
9) “People can order a cheeseburger anywhere. They come to Chotchkie’s for the attitude and the atmosphere.”
I think the “Grey’s” writing staff forgot what an amazing product they have for parts of this season, and how much this show means to its loyal viewers. Like what Jennifer Aniston’s boss told her about their restaurant rings true for most “Grey’s” fans: we can watch silly, nonsensical TV shows any other day of the week. We tune in Thursdays at 9 p.m. to watch a well-written, well thought out medical drama that features characters that we can relate to and love. So next season, I hope that we won’t see ill-timed arguments (see Item #6 again), unbelievable scenarios (surgical interns operating on themselves with practically zero repercussions) or anything else that we can catch on other sub-par dramas. One of the reasons I like “Grey’s” so much is because it feels real. Am I the only one who thought it got a little cartoonish at times this year?
Here are a few postseason awards…
*Season MVP: This is tough because I don’t think anyone was particularly outstanding from Episode One to Episode 24. There were several people who had strong multi-episode bursts, but I think the most castmember who good the most consistently was Katherine Heigl. I don’t like a lot of the stunts she’s pulled, but I can’t dismiss the strong effort she gave this season. I honestly think she was better this year than when she won the Emmy a couple of seasons ago.
Honorable Mentions: Patrick Dempsey, Justin Chambers and Chandra Wilson
*Best episode: Episode 7, “Rise Up” I loved the season finale and the second of the three “Grey’s”/”Private Practice” crossover episodes, but I really loved the story behind “Rise Up.” For my money, it didn’t get any better than watching Izzie have to come face-to-face with the patient whose heart she stole for Denny. It got even better when Dr. Hahn put two and two together, but the real surprise was when Callie came to Izzie’s defense when Hahn wanted to have Izzie suspended. And yes, I do see the irony that my favorite episode of the season was Hahn’s last one after I already said she didn’t deserve to fired.
Honorable Mentions: Episode 13 “Stairway to Heaven” (Izzie realizes she’s sick; Meredith considers using a death row inmates organs to save a kid), Episode 15 “Before and After” (the true “Grey’s”/”PP” crossover episode), Episode 18 “Stand By Me” (Fellow docs try to get Derek to come back to work, Cristina spills the beans about Izzie’s condition), Episode 24 “Now or Never” (season finale)
Best Moment: I’m hard pressed to find a better moment than when Derek officially proposed to Meredith. The elevator is almost like another character on the show, so that was the perfect place for Derek to do it. And plastering the walls with scans from their different surgeries was icing on the cake.
Honorable Mentions: Izzie and Alex’s wedding, Meredith and Chief finally coming to and understanding, Izzie realizing she was sick, Sadie exits stage right from Seattle Grace (sorry that was mean).
Best story arc: Eric Stoltz’ three-episode run as a prison inmate on death row. I just found those episodes very chilling and Stolz’ performance was absolutely convincing and outstanding.
Honorable Mentions: Derek’s downward spiral after he lost his pregnant head trauma patient (Patrick Dempsey’s best work on this show ever), Izzie’s illness (Denny hallucinations aside)
Lines from “Office Space” that I wanted to use, but just couldn’t find the right reference point:
-“We have a problem here, yeah.”
-“Did you see the memo?”
-“No thanks, man. I don’t want you (messing) up my life too.” (although this one could go to Patrick Dempsey who was probably thinking something along these lines when Isaiah Washington was hoping he’d come to his defense after the T.R. Knight debacle)
-“I’m also gonna need you to come in on Sunday, too.”
Well, I think that’s a wrap. Season Five was a lot like a roller coaster: it had a lot of ups and a lot of downs, but when the ride was over I was thankful for the thrills and can’t wait to do it again. Season Six can’t start soon enough!
I hope you all enjoyed this season as well. Enjoy the hiatus and thanks so much for talking about this show with me every Friday. It’s been a lot of fun.
Have a great day and a wonderful holiday weekend.
Have a comment, question or criticism for Joe? Contact him at email@example.com.