Friday, October 31, 2008

ER & Grey's Anatomy: GI Joe, Anatomy Jane and Bionic Ray

Reviewing the two Thursday medical shows together seems to be working, so spoilers for "Grey's Anatomy" and then "ER" coming up just as soon as I find some unkosher animals to stab...

You know "Grey's Anatomy" is getting it right right these days where they feature an episode where Izzie is freaking out about the health of animals and it doesn't bother me.

Of course, Kevin McKidd getting all stabby with the pigs fit better in a medical context than Izzie playing amateur veterinarian with that deer last season. But beyond that, I think the show's achieving a very nice balance of comedy and pathos, of having characters do and say wacky things without undermining them.

I'm glad to have McKidd back, and to see his conflict with McDreamy and McSteamy get resolved in a shockingly adult manner, not only for this show, but for any medical show. On "ER" (which I'll get to in a minute), it usually takes the hot-headed newbie at least a half a season, if not several seasons, before he starts seeing eye to eye with the longtime regulars; here they came to an understanding by the end of the hour.

And I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying Callie and Erica's girl-on-girl angst. Though it was obviously conceived in order to give those two actresses something to do, it turned out to be something good to do. Everytime I think that story's in danger of taking a stupid turn, we get a moment like Erica's speech about getting glasses (very fine work by Brooke Smith), or McSteamy turning out to be useful for something other than sex, or Erica not flipping out at learning that Callie had been sleeping with McSteamy to calm herself.

And, of course, any episode that gives Chandra Wilson and James Pickens a lot of meaty material, both together and apart, is okay in my book.

As for "ER," not one of the better ones this season in my book. Since I watched very little of the Shane West era, the return of Ray didn't mean a whole lot for me. (Also, I could have done without the constant full-body camera pans down to show his various artificial legs. We get it: modern special effects are really awesome!)

I'm also getting impatient waiting for Dr. Banfield to reveal her deep dark secret and then have her predestined mellowing out. Since she's only going to be on the show for one season (and a slightly abbreviated one, at that), they can't play out her character arc at the same pace they did with, say, Pratt or Dr. Aussie. (Who I totally don't buy as a good guy, all of a sudden. They should have let him stay a bastard, Romano-style.)

Sam becoming the latest "ER" nurse (or hospital show nurse in general) to get frustrated at being treated like a second-class citizen when she knows more than half the doctors was also not very inspired.

Ah, well. I assume a lot of my Banfield problems will be resolved in the much-hyped Dr. Greene flashback episode we're getting in a couple of weeks. But if they decide to kill Mark again in that episode, I am going to lodge a formal complaint.

What did everybody else think?


Hatfield said...

I don't watch "Grey's" so I probably shouldn't even be commenting here, but my love for McKidd as Vorenus was such that I may have to tune in some time. Though I admit disappointment that he didn't go after the other two doctors with a sword, shouting "Thirteenth!!"

Anonymous said...

Hatfield-I was thinking the exact same thing. I did love how taken aback the other two doctors were by his response.

I also got a kick out of the look on Meredith's face when Christina told her to "RUN" when she saw Owen, funny stuff.

I am very pleasantly surprised at how much I am enjoying this season, although I know the addition of McKidd has much to do with that.

Pamela Jaye said...

I haven't watched ER yet (wisdom tooth/vicodin/sleep), so I had to read with care
but I loved the ep, the writer's blog was good (the comments got old fast) and I was happy you liked it too.

It was also nice that the characters all thought that "last week" referred to the same period of past time, unlike Burke's three weeks of PT while Callie lived in Mer's frat house for only a week.

The humility was good and the new focus on teaching was great. Erica's bitchiness is getting old, and I'm glad Bailey told her so.

And apparently everyone now wants to but an Anatomy Jane doll (me too), while I *finally* see why Mer went out and got drunk before her first day(s) of work at SGH (after hiding from the Chief at the mixer). Screw the conflicts of sleeping with your attending (in season 1), being a living thorn in the side of your ultimate boss is a bit of pressure (which has erupted *twice* this season in differing ways).
Didn't Mer interview for this residency before she did whatever one does fot "the Match"?

oh well, our gain.

Also, Alex and Izzie are just awesome. Finally.

Pamela Jaye said...

PS - link sidebar > Interviews - shouldn't you add Matt Weiner? (I didn't finish him either)

Anonymous said...

ER writers are so lazy. The scene where Aussie doc just shows up at Nelia's and interrupts her with Ray was so contrived. He couldn't call or text 1st. How did he know she was home. Who knocks 5 minutes after there 1st knock. It's called a "booty call" not a booty drop by and knock. I'm not sure why this is still on my TIVO

Anonymous said...

Apologies for straying topic Alan, but the third season of Brotherhood premieres this weekend. Have you seen any of it? From the looks of its scheduling, it seems like Showtime has pretty much given up on it.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, is it wrong that I'm more excited about seeing Romano again in the upcoming flashback episode than I am about Greene?

Stef said...

I'm also back to really enjoying Grey's this season, almost as much as back in sns 1-2. It's like the whole ferry/George-Izzie thing never happened!

This should be Brooke Smith's Emmy tape.

And yes, I'm LOVING Lucius Vorenus at Seattle Grace. Can't wait to see how his character and interactions continue to develop.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problem ER has now is that the current main characters don't have enough of a shared history to make their interactions resonate the way they did as recently as last season. All of the interns are coming across as new Lucy Knights--being jammed into conflicts and tense situations with regular characters--and it's not working for them any more than it did for Kellie Martin.
Dr. Aussie's arc is standard ER, BTW: guy comes in as a total jerk and then gets softened to some extent (Romano had a supervisory role and it worked better to keep him both relatively powerful and nasty). It's just being accelerated for The Last Season, and that's why it doesn't feel right. Same with the former regulars returning--I half expect Dr. Chen to drop by and spend the entire episode having a heart-to-heart with Morris, once she says, "Who the hell are you?"
I'm still looking forward to Dr. Greene's return. The parts of the show/character where he was being a DOCTOR as opposed to having romantic disasters or cancer were outstanding. Here's to a flashback where the doc's a doc.

Pamela Jaye said...

finally watched ER.despite audio problems.

I still don't like Aussie doc, and I always liked Neela and Ray, so I really hated his "interruption." And honestly I can't remember why he thinks she might be the least bit interested in him.

Oh, and I think Neela/Ray was the last relationship on ER I cared about.

Sam may be lame, but her "uprising" against Tony was far more interesting than their "me male, you female, we on ER" relationship, or anything else Sam has done on this show. Ever.

Of course that doesn't make it any less sad when even interns consider nurses stupid bedpan pushers. Doesn't any one know what it is that nurses have to learn??? (even I don't, but I flunked chem in high school before deciding I was too innocent to be a nurse.)

Anonymous said...

About Grey's Anatomy, I honestly was still a little annoyed with Izzie because it was impossible to watch her freaking out about the pigs without remembering that stunt with the deer. I loved it when Cristina became so enthusiastic about saving them, though, because it is so unlike her.

I am getting really annoyed with this kind of formulaic thing on the show where one character does something terrible or has a problem they can't discuss, but then comes out with it at the end of the show and the response from their significant other is a calm, "Okay." I assume they have a more heated discussion afterward, but usually we just see them walking out of the hospital together. I honestly think I would have a problem with my sexually confused lover sleeping with someone else because they needed to calm down.

The Anatomy Jane line was awesome.

Unknown said...

Anyone else find the disclaimer before Grey's last night to be a little bizarre? Like, the general public needss BIG BOLD LETTERS telling them that no animals were harmed during the filming of this episode? Seriously? Seriously!

I guess, since there wasn't a similar disclaimer, that Chandra Wilson really DID remove all the internal organs of a 12-year-old girl who had an inoperable tumor.

Bix said...

Alan, are you sure they did full-body panning shots of Ray? I only remember camera switches to his legs that made me think "Wow, the show's finally gotten its enormous budget slashed" since there was some blatantly expensive stuff in the past (like Ray sans most of his legs in the hospital after the accident). It was especially noticeable during the period where it seemed as if they had so much of a budget surplus per episode that they had to work in expensive stuff like the robo-preemie to justify the expense to NBC.

Byron Hauck said...

Randy: The difference is, that 10-year-old girl was an actress. The pigs were just pigs. When you see a chair get sat in, you know it's really getting sat in. When you see actors doing things, you know they're not really doing them. Pigs fall somewhere in between, and I appreciated being told where.

Joan said...

I took advantage of's full episodes to watch Grey's for the first time since its first season, because this was a McKidd-heavy episode. It was worth it -- the payoff scene between Owen, McDreamy and McSteamy was great, and it was also great to see that it taught Alex something as well. I might have to add this to the TiVo, at least while McKidd's around.

Pamela Jaye said...

Damn it - they were right! It's "October" again on Grey's Anatomy. Last year it was Halloween,now it's October, and still they have the same interns.

I thought I warned them about those landmarks. We can believe three years is one year as long as they don't repeat the holidays.


Anonymous said...

Kevin McKidd


Oh, Vorenus, how I've missed you?

Anonymous said...

Since I did watch during the Shane West era of ER, the only part of the episode I cared about was the Ray-Neela parts. I just hated it the way the Shane West Character left the show and, really, Neela has been out of sync and she has been carrying guilt feelings ever since. Throw in the fact that Neela's good friend Abby just left town, and her boss-friend temporaily quit, Neela was probably depressed. Dispite the contrived interruption from the Ausie doc, this episode was very theraputic for Neela. She needed this. Now she can start the process of being happy again by ER's last episode.

Anonymous said...

^I hope she winds up with Ray by the end of the series.

I don't recall seeing Ray's robolegs, just noticed how he dragged himself into the car to drive.

Michael said...

Hijacking this for the moment since there's no other place for it, but "In Treatment" co-star Mia Wasikowska has been cast by Tim Burton to be Alice in his upcoming adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland". See the LA Times' Hero Complex for more.

lungfish said...

Sorry for being off-topic. Are you still watching Survivor? IMO, it's starting to get interesting- just wondering if you were going to weigh in anymore this season.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Are you still watching Survivor?

No. Cut the cord before the season began. Realized I had too many other things to watch on Thursday nights and that I had seen every possible iteration of Survivor that I ever needed to see.

Jeremy said...

Wait... ER is still on the air?

Pamela Jaye said...

Sorry for being off-topic

after the second one of these in a row, methinks you might need a Miscellaneous post for all these random questions and comments to fly into :-)

What Alan's Not Watching? What we Wonder if Alan's Watching? What we wonder if Alan's Heard About? :-)

I recently read that Jane Espenson is going to be writing for Dollhouse! (if I happened to mention it, i'd have no clue where)

just no politics!
three more days - counting today.

Pamela Jaye said...

btw, off topic but at least on the proper night - last night LOM had its prerequisite Sam meets his mom in the past episode.
I found it touching, as I'm a sap.

Pamela Jaye said...

and for the sake of being ON topic - I much preferred Ray's new hair to that spiky style from before.

I've been wathing (name of actor) since he was on Once and Again. (which I loved and they were going to put out season 3 and didn't!)

Pamela Jaye said...

are we allowed to mention who recently got fired from Grey's Anatomy?

I just found out and I am surprisingly annoyed about the whole thing.