Friday, February 23, 2007

Grey's Anatomy: A life less ordinary

Grrrr... God or Shonda or somebody doesn't want me to post my thoughts on last night's "Grey's Anatomy." First I accidentally hit the "publish" instead of "save as draft" button as I'm rushing out the door to drive my daughter to pre-school, then I actually write a lengthy post and Blogger eats it. Writing and saving this version off-line. The series of tubes will not beat me, no sir. Spoilers ho...

I want to take the hype factor out of this discussion, even though I was complaining about Shonda's blog last week. Compared to what the ABC promo department pulled with "Lost" the other night, Shonda's discussion of this three-parter was mild, plus it was targeted at a really tiny and obsessed portion of her audience.

As for the episode itself, I think it suffered a lot for the sins of past shows, which have robbed my affection for a lot of these characters. There were a whole bunch of scenes last night, like Cristina extolling the virtues of 99-cent shopping or Denny marveling at McDreamy's mcawesomeness, that made me think, "Gosh, if I still liked Cristina/Derek, I might be moved right about now." At the moment, though, I only like a handful of characters, notably Addison (who's escaping to her own spin-off), Karev and the Chief. Not coincidentally, the only scenes that really worked for me involved either Alex and his John Doe patient or Weber saying goodbye to Ellis. I also have some residual goodwill for Denny, so I was touched by the last scene, even if Izzy has become such a spectacularly loathsome person. When another person mocks you for having loved ones who died and still comes off as the sympathetic figure in an argument, it's time to go.

One area where Shonda fell down, independent of what's happened in the past, was Ellis' goodbye to Meredith in the ghost hospital. A lot of people predicted exactly this scenario last week, but the execution of it was as flat as everything else in this three-parter. I think it would have had far more impact without any set-up at all. No scenes of Ellis coding in the real world, no glimpse of her wandering the ghost halls before her encounter with Meredith; just have Meredith running back to life, having already made her decision on that front, and being stopped for a moment by the sight of her mom walking the other way. They could still have the identical conversation, but the flow would have been better and the stakes higher, even for those of us who suspected it was coming.

You've already started making your opinions known, so keep it coming.


Joel said...

No opinion of the episode, Alan? I know it was boring as sin, but at least you should say something. :)

Anonymous said...

So this is one of the episodes we'll be talking about "for years to come" (K. Veitch, if I remember correctly)? What a letdown.

Anonymous said...

echo(echo, echo)
yup, pretty quiet here

I was a little concerned that with this ep's pedigree (it was written by Shonda and Marti Noxon and directed by Adam Arkin (which is only a couple degrees of separation from Joss and DEK, right?) I might be hoping for too much and feel let down.
I wasn't.
Marti blogs pretty well too. Granted it was 2 am and now I'm dead and my reply is less literate and more gush (blush)

I haven't found that St E ep yet, and I guess Shonda and Marti didn't see it, but really? dead guys bickering? that was fun.
And Izzie needs to do something that can't die on her.
And Addie -- I guess she needs a pilot (is the WSJ divulging their source?)


Anonymous said...

I just wonder which part of this whole very special 3 episode arc Shonda feels has "never been done on television before!"....
Why is it that people have a problem with the hype for Lost and Heroes which is all the marketing departments but when Shonda blogs about how big and important an episode is going to be she doesn't incure the same fan wrath?

Anonymous said...

The Addison-thing is official. There will be a two-hour send-off in May. And Omar Epps as one of the leads.

Anonymous said...

That was directed to Pam

Anonymous said...

Omar Epps? I thought it was Taye Diggs, not that it can't be both but Omar already has a pretty good job on a show that has been already been picked up for next year.

Anonymous said...

Well I wouldn't go by anything either Shonda or Kristin Veitch say. Kristin's the biggest sycophant since Waylon Smithers and Shonda's ego is bigger than Donald Trump's.

And honestly, Shonda's ego is a huge problem for this show because it too often bleeds into the writing. How many self-important "surgeons are the greatest people in the world" or "if you're not a surgeon you don't understand REAL pressure" voiceovers have we had to endure? And Shonda's affection for the characters is totally excessive and mostly undeserved given how selfish and inconsiderate most of them are. I literally laughed out loud when Denny told Meredith how rare and special guys like Derek are. My friends all call him McScummy, so the idea that he's supposed to be some sort of prized catch always makes us laugh.

Anonymous said...

It's NOT Omar Epps. He's staying on House.

Taye Diggs has signed on for the potential spin-off.

Anonymous said...

Of course it's Mr. Diggs! Sorry about that.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Manuel, careful, or Undercover Black Man is going to chide you for an MBP.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, and an actual post coming shortly. :)

BF said...

I'm Taye Diggs!!!

Sorry, had to do it.

Anonymous said...

Alan, what do you think of the Addison spin-off plan? A lot of people seem to hate the idea, but I'm kind of excited. Grey's definitely won't improve from the loss of their last consistently likeable character, but the spin-off might end up being a pretty good show. Kate Walsh is a much stronger actress than Ellen Pompeo, and Addison is a great character. Plus, it makes perfect sense that Addison would want to get the hell out of Seattle Grace.

Anonymous said...

From now on the phrase "jumping the shark" will be replaced with "drowning the Meredith."

These episodes were inane.

Anonymous said...

Manuel, thank you!
So Foreman is moving on?
I'd love to think of something witty to say like "Foreman will diagnose them (unless they're alcoholics or homeless or prisoners) and then Addison will..." but I can't think of anything that Addison will do.

So, I'll get back to you on that.

Anonymous said...

PS -- that was me (Pam) and glad to see your post finally got through, Alan. I had the same problem on greyswriters, last night at 2am when I was trying to type while lying on my back... well, sorta twisted, and almost asleep. (drawback of being on the east coast I guess)

Why does Shonda get away with what the promo departments don't? Well, at least Shonda writes good stuff. (I don't care -- I still think so. And I still like Meredith (since she's stopped drinking and sleeping around). Izzie... needs some help. Alex -- what was that line? Meredith makes me think there's hope for screwed up people?)

I have no defense. I'm a sap.
(and the guy from shipping insists on *handing* me the orders, so I'll be going now)


Anonymous said...

Can't believe that url got all the way thru.

Darn. I'm sure it would have been more fun with Omar Epps.

I had hopes for Kevin Hill, but after about 2 eps my only hopes were that it would die so I didn't have to record any more of it.

Fellows move on. It would have stunk for House, but someday, they *will* have to. (and again I ask, how long is fellowship?)

Oops -- meant to add that I will miss the Ellis/Meredith dynamic. A lot. (this isn't fair, she has McDreamy, her mother said something nice and died -- where's the angst?? I need angst!)


Anonymous said...

All I can say is - if any of use fall into a body of water and drown, may we all have the doctors that Meredith had. It was bugging me last night watching that episode, thinking that if it was anybody else in that bed, the doctors would have "called it", and headed home...

Grimoald said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Grimoald said...

My biggest problem with the show is that they have written some characters to say just the most stupid bloody things in a vein effort to advance the 'drama'. Why on earth would Callie say anything like what she did, it makes absolutely no sense, almost every other word that eminates from Christina is just inexplicable (she really isn't far removed from being a character who could exist on a Dwight type level in the Office) and Bailey has just become this useless facade of a character.

The worst hing though may well be the voice-over. Hell, it works badly in other shows like DH and Heroes, but here it is just a whole other level of awfulness "we wroship at the alter of science." WTF.

I just don't get how the show is so popular, it is a mildly enjoyable and light way to spend an hour, but there is very little substance.

I also get this feeling (which I don't from any other hospital show, even Scrubs) that the medicine is incredibly suspect as well, and that reall throws me out of the show.

Todd said...

I'm not a big Grey's fan, I really didn't care for the first two parts, and I STILL thought this was a deeply affecting piece of television.

I think I have a really high tolerance for pseudo-mystical afterlife bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Izzie seems to have a thing about Callie (though not Olivia) for "taking George away from her" (even though she doesn't want George in a romantic way).

She needs to get over it.

(There's *medicine* on Scrubs??) :-)

And who is Kristin Veitch?


Anonymous said...

Eh. Most of the characters have been written into corners, and the three episodes didn't get any of them out. The "George is hitched" and "Everybody want to be Chief" storylines from several weeks ago showed some potential for shuffling around the characters and re-orienting the show, which is what a soap needs to do once in a while. That potential was completely squandered. _Grey's_ was never a great show, but it was once a good old school soap, and I've been surprised at how rapidly it has gone downhill.

And speaking of old school...spinning off a character while the original show is still popular? Totally old school. We're not talking _Frasier_ or _Joey_ here, people, we're talking _The Ropers_ and _Flo_ (Thanks wikipedia!).

I actually feel bad for Sandra Oh, since I think her character has suffered because she's tied to the Isaiah Washington, who had to be isolated from the rest of the cast -- and I feel you cam comfortably argue that based _just_ on his scenes on the show this season.

And was Kyle Chandler southern in his original appearance? I thought he pulled out his _Early Edition_ Midwestern accent for the bomb expert, and I was disoriented but pleased to see Coach Taylor yelling at Meredith.

In addition, this is _not_ the Jeffrey-Morgan-guests-as-a-deceased-character performance I'm most looking forward to this season. That would be on the CW's underrated _Supernatural_. It's too bad Coach Taylor won't be in that episode, too.


Anonymous said...

It was a horrible episode. The only reason I am still sticking it out is for Addison and Alex but he'll be ruined when they put him back with Izzie. I'm done once Addison leaves.

Anonymous said...

Izzie hates Callie because Callie is twice as gorgeous as Izzie, but in a real-person way. She's just plain jealous of her, is all.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading -- here and at greyswriters and n a mailing list I'm on. And I've had a reaction. I've been feeling sycophantish. So to relieve my guilt, I posted on greyswriters and the copied yo the list I'm on, and now I will cross post it here (cause, let's face it, I like to hear myself talk -- once I start to make some sense.)

The original post still contains some gushing for the writers, cause I still do love them.


Today on the writers blog I read:
.... I'm a loyal Grey's fan and will never miss an episode. However, I have to say, I'm a tad bit disappointed in last night's show. I'll never stop watching Grey's, but yeah, the story line was pretty predictable. Despite all of the spoilers on the internet all week about Meredith living and her mother dying, I kept thinking, "No way, that's just too predictable and Grey's is NEVER predictable." But last night's kind of was...
and this :
Gad that episode was terrible. I wonder why people tell you it was
great on this blog comment section, but every other GA board you read
has fans saying how horrible it was and how disappointed they are in
You know what I keep reading over and over?
Worst. Episode. Ever.
Seriously. People are writing that all over the net, so it's weird
that here people would gush about it.
She's not wrong.

It makes those of us who love it sound like sycophants. (It's a new
word I've (almost) learned). (except for that one of us who worked Bonnie into a deep meaningful part of Mer's avoidance technique-- that was just awesome! and Grey's is great in its deep and intimate and relational ways. This is the strength here.)

[Deep breath] New approach to loving Grey's (cause I'm already tired of people talking about how big Shonda's ego is [and you know who you are ;-)], and I'd like them to stop)

My post to the writers blog today (after gushing at Marti for 5 or 6
paragraphs Friday at 2am): [with my typos corrected]

I managed to avoid most of the spoilers on the 'net last week (yay! it's not easy) but even I could have told you that Ellis would likely die and Mer would spend most of the ep being mostly dead.

I didn't expect the extended trip to This Is Your AfterLife, Denny
and Dylan bickering (bravo), Cristina shopping... I *do* expect that if this were any other patient, they would have given up [sooner].

The only issue I had -- two actually -- were the talk that someone would die and Shonda saying she was breaking the rules of television. That only made people who have been watching television all their lives (for fun and profit) say that her ego is too big. And we don't need that.

I loved the episode. It made me cry. But mostly when Ellis talked to Mer (I also enjoyed Derek screaming at Ellis, Callie telling Izzie where to shove it, and really, Addie realizing that Derek never loved her like that.)

Please don't vaunt your work to some level of "This is the best TV
writing ever done" -- let *us* say that. Shonda isn't David E Kelley
and she's not quite Joss either.

Let's let the fans do the praising -- *you guys* -- you tell us the
whys. Tell us the background. Tell us about the metaphor (they're
getting more subtle -- i'm starting to miss them ;-) )

Marti -- loved the blog. I hear that the show Jane is on is going
into the death slot aganst you -- after Scrubs.

Stay humble, Shonda. I don't want to have to apologize for you. :-)

And btw, Derek's not a miracle. In the past he's been an ass (to both
Mer and Addie.) He's screwed up and he's been childish and he's hurt
people. He's doing better now, but I can't see a lot of reason to
think of him as other than just out for himself (Burke is more noble
and Addie is moreso as well. Perhaps there *is* a reason -- scary thought -- that Derek is friends with the shallow Mark.) Could we work on redeeming Derek more -- let's make him this wondrous heroic man you seem to think he is! (of course, not too perfect: the best heroes have flaws)

[Pam finds a tangent! and follows it...]

Derek is in no way ready to be Chief. He needs more experience, more wizardry (genius-level work, that we can understand) and much more compassion for his patients. With Mer -- I don't know what he needs (but I still melt when he looks at her). Derek could be fascinating, if you choose to make him so. And I know that you can (all this "advice" is for Shonda.) The men on your show complain of being one-dimensional objects for the women to love. Burke is not. George... George is good. Alex has secrets. I still don't give a rat's behind about Mark.

Derek. Can we explore Derek? Why is he a doctor --is it just the
family profession? How does he feel about that? (and have you seen
Scott Bakula in Sibling Rivalry? checkout the scene after his vaunted brother dies.) Does he get overlooked? Was he pampered? How did he meet Addie?

And Marti--tell Shonda about the crap that fans will give you if you
have one show and are perceived to have abandoned it for a younger
sibling. I'm sure you bore the brunt of that. Tell her that if she
abandons Greys, we will be here with the pitchforks and torches. ;-)

As I said, I loved the ep -- even when I had to reach hard to find
that the reason for Bonnie was that Mer may help people to avoid her
own issue[s][yes, I stole that]. Maybe she even became a doctor for
that reason? Why did any of them become doctors? It couldn't have all been ego...

Love from here to all of you (including Adam Arkin, who I'd like to see in front of a camera again, please) (and what's Peter doing these days? I ditched the first 7 eps of 6 degrees)


Anonymous said...

This season the show has definitely declined in quality and this over-extended three episode arc did nothing to change my opinion. In fact, when I figured out that Meredith's mom was the one to die, I switched over to 30 Rock and did not regret missing the last half hour.

Unfortunately the ratings don't show that this emperor has no clothes, but hopefully it happens soon, because at the moment Grey's Anatomy is one Sonny Corinthos away from being General Hospital.

Anonymous said...

And, with the conclusion of "Grey"'s own Moldavian massacre, ratings and fan interest begin their inexorable decline.