Spoilers for the "Grey's Anatomy" season five premiere coming up just as soon as I grab a stapler and a pen...
Shonda Rhimes is a genius. An aggravating genius, but a genius nonetheless. (And, really, what genius comes without some aggravation?)
Shonda's brilliance -- her ability to tell a very familiar story in a slightly new and extremely affecting way -- has kept me watching "Grey's Anatomy" for a very long time, through a lot of episodes and story arcs I absolutely despised. Where I've stuck with other shows in the past that I didn't like simply because the ways in which they were bad fascinated me (say, "Studio 60"), with "Grey's" it was my knowledge that, even though I would have to suffer through a lot of annoying shenanigans to get there, Shonda would occasionally provide a moment so elegant and surprising and moving that I would regret not seeing it.
So, yes, I wanted to throw a brick at the TV when we got the dream sequence fake-out about McDreamy being in a car crash, and again with Rose's pregnancy joke (which led to an ABC promo that Shonda had to publicly disavow). And, yes, Lexie suddenly having an unrequited crush on George in the same way he did on Meredith way back when is a little too cute and self-conscious a role reversal. And, yes, I still think Callie and Dr. Hahn are gay for each other (but not, in an unexpected twist for Hahn, for anyone else, past or present) only because the writers needed to give these two characters something to do.
But every minute of it was worth it for the moment when Izzie (and you know how much I hate Izzie) started counting to 30 after Mariette Hartley woke up from surgery, then realized that this woman would spend the rest of her life having to be told, over and over and over, that her husband was dead. As I said in my column this morning, that's the sort of fate even a fairy tale witch wouldn't be cruel enough to concoct. That Izzie found a way, in the end, to turn Mariette's curse -- a condition that makes Leonard from "Memento" seem like a lucky bastard in comparison -- into a blessing (Mariette will instead be perpetually told that her husband is just around the corner) didn't diminish the awesome horror of that earlier moment. If anything, it elevated all the fairy tale talk, because it showed how every fairy tale is a horror story, and vice versa, depending on the perspective you take on it.
Really, aside from the missteps I mentioned above, I quite liked "Dream a Little Dream." I've made peace with the aspects of the series I know are fundamental to its DNA --- the narration, Meredith's need to obsess about her relationships every minute of every day -- and the running meta-commentary about the drop in the hospital rankings(*) suggests Shonda and company are aware of how they slipped in recent years and are going to make a good-faith effort to get back to doing what they do best.
(*) Or was it a meta-commentary? An ABC publicist says she talked to Shonda and was told it wasn't meant as such, but it's impossible to look at it as anything but, especially since "Grey's" last year went from #2 to #11 by most Nielsen measures. Whatever the authorial intent, I'm choosing to regard it as such until proven otherwise.
Meanwhile, I really liked the addition of Kevin McKidd. Yeah, they laid on the "He's a combat field surgeon who doesn't play by the rules!" thing a little thick -- and, as noted in the column, the surgical staple gag was straight outta "Roadhouse" -- but McKidd brings a distinctly masculine energy that the show has needed for a while. I think the producers hoped that McSteamy would provide that kind of counterpoint to McDreamy and George, but he's instead wound up as comic relief.
I'm not clear on how long McKidd is committed to being here, but I hope it's a while because, much to my pleasant surprise, I suspect I'm going to be here for a while as well.
What did everybody else think?