Friday, November 21, 2008

ER & Grey's Anatomy: It's a teaching hospital, stupid

Spoilers for last night's "Grey's Anatomy" and "ER" coming up just as soon as I work up a sweat...

Interesting that both shows did stories about the surgical residents not being interested in teaching their interns, only to have the stories resolve in divergent ways. On "ER," Neela gets chewed out -- and rightfully so -- for not wanting to work with young Andrew anymore. On "Grey's," the secret cutting society is treated as entirely the fault of the interns, even though it started up because Yang, Karev and the rest couldn't be bothered passing on any lessons to the young pups. If we hadn't watched several seasons of the show with the main characters as interns, and saw how much Bailey let them do and how much they learned, I might just accept that this is an intern's lot in life. But it's not, at least not in the universe the show created in previous years, and to not have the Chief lay at least some of the blame for this on Meredith and Cristina for treating the interns like indentured scut servants and little more was galling...

...albeit not as galling as a character (in this case, Alex) once again being forced to justify Izzie's continued employment in the wake of the Denny/LVAD fiasco. How many times do I need to say this: if Shonda and the other writers would stop trying to defend the Denny thing and just ignore its existence, we might be able to let it go. But in having yet another character claim it was kinda sorta okay, and in bringing Denny back from the dead somehow to rock Izzie's world, it makes it really hard to ignore the single worst storyline in the show's history.

And speaking of this supernatural sex marathon, Shonda shot down the most obvious speculation by telling Ausiello that, as Ahnuld once said, it's not a tumor. A tumor would have been a soap-y explanation, but at least it would have worked within the framework of this show. Actual sex with a solidified ghost? Blurg.

If you can somehow ignore all the Izzie/Denny stuff -- I know, it's hard, but at least most of it didn't involve the other characters and was therefore fast-forwardable -- and accept the disposition of the appendectomy disaster, then there were some good things here, like Sloan's heart growing three sizes as he helped the sleepwalker's daughter, or Bailey and Callie talking about their lousy years and their love of surgery, or Joshua Malina making a non-Sorkin appearance to give his wife some, uh, poo. And even the appy subplot worked up until the writers and the Chief let the residents off the hook for it, as it was as creepy and scary as intended. But where the early episodes of this season featured really strong material marred by the occasional bit of silliness, the stupid parts are starting to overwhelm the rest.

Getting back to "ER," I was surprised by how well Brenner's confession of abuse worked. They'd been telegraphing all episode that he had been molested as a kid, and Brenner in general is a character I have little use for, but David Lyons put his all into what could have been standard sweeps/awards show bait, and intercutting it with seeing the music teacher show his true colors had the desired effect. Plus, it helped that Brenner was confessing to Archie, as Scott Grimes tends to make every scene he's in better lately. (The best thing in last week's episode was Archie's stunned reaction to learning that Banfield had chosen to work in the same ER where her son died.)

Also, I have a phobia about stuff touching my eyes (it's the reason I never got contacts), and so watching Andrew and the others work on the guy's eye was one of the more squirm-inducing "ER" traumas I can remember.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I don't know about you but I can't wait for the ghost baby delivery during May sweeps. Just pathetic. And why wasn't every intern in that was in that operating room fired? On the spot, that's it, see you later. The whole show has left earth's orbit. The McSteamy story was good so maybe not the whole show was worthless.

Anonymous said...

This show does go overboard with the everyone sleeping with everyone else concept but I can live with it until NOW! Does the actor that plays Denny have the mortgage on somebody's home or what? This storyline is ludicrous and boring. As to the interns performing surgery on each other..and not getting fired? Please! This show is fast becoming totally stupid

Pamela Jaye said...

Shonda is deeply in love with Denny. always has been. no mortgage needed.

however, good news: so far, he has not, as I'd thought, appeared in more eps dead than he did alive.

also, I hate Sadie.

also, I liked Derek taking in strays. For someone so "McDreamy" he very rarely thinks of anyone but himself. *Meredith* thinks of others far more often than he does. (and lately, so does *Alex*)

Kristen said...

I like Grey's when it focuses on the grownups -- Callie, Sloan, Bailey, Chief, and the late lamented Burke, Erica and Addison. Even McDreamy is more interesting with them than when he is with Meredith. Mer and Yang are right on the cusp of joining that group, in interesting-ness and maturity (mostly Yang).

But after this episode I would still put the last two in with the younger set, which are way too annoying in their self-involved-ness to draw me in. (The grownups are self-involved too, but they manage to look outside themselves at least some of the time.) I feel bad for Alex that he's stuck with these yahoos.

Shonda's crush on Denny is bordering on embarrassing. Please, stop. You killed him. You can't undo that. (But you could kill Izzie too!)

I hadn't watched ER in almost a decade, but I've been watching it again this season. I'm amazed at how much better defined and used their interns are compared to the ones on Grey's. And I was pretty impressed with Brenner's breakdown as well; it's an overdone story, but both actors in that scene pulled it off.

Anonymous said...

I was also impressed with Lyons' performance, despite also not having much use for his character. And while I thought the intercutting was effective, I kind of wish we didn't really know whether the music teacher was guilty or not. Think it might have been more interesting that way.

Still, it's Grimes who continues to be one of the main reasons I watch. I don't know whether it's more the actor or writer, but the way that character has gone from his single note when he was introduced to being arguably the show's main character amazes me. Maybe I just haven't seen most of the original cast in too long, but I think this version of Archie could fit right in.

Also, weren't Andrew and Tony's intern married? I thought I heard her describe him as her brother? Did they switch relationships on us at the last moment?

Anonymous said...

Hmm, Joshua Malina was on Thursday's CSI episode as well. I guess he's a fence straddler.

Anonymous said...

My problem with ER last night was that I didn't care about any of the interns or Brenner's problem. His speech to Morris intercut with the patient and the child was like an illustrated PSA, and I found it irritating. Also, knowing this is the last season makes it hard for me to care about any of the new characters and their plights--no point in getting invested in them, for me.

I did, however, like Dubenko giving Neela whatfor and her turnaround. She needed that reality slap. Also agree that Grimes is doing great work this season.

Quick OT: Are you going to do a Pushing Daisies post for the last ep, Alan? If I don't get to bounce off my wacky theory about Ned's dad having the same power as Ned and thus leaving both families after his sons died and he brought them back to life, I'm gonna explode...oh, wait... :-D

Christy said...

Denny was my favorite part of the episode. I liked George wanting assurance in the OR that Lexi would have talked to him if she was really in love with him. I liked McSteamy with Callie, with the daughter, with McDreamy. I was confused by McKidd. Guy that hot doesn't stutter around women.

Maybe I read too much sci-fi, but I'm fine with Izzie's demon lover.

Anonymous said...

Well, if nothing else, I'm always happy to have some Josh Malina on my television. I haven't gotten to GA yet, but I caught CSI and even in nothing roles, he makes me very happy.

Too bad to hear there's more Denny/Izzie. I've been able to succesfully ignore all of the "wait, Izzie still has a job???" BS in favor of fanwaking most of it away and still enjoying Jeffrey Dean Morgan whenever he shows up somewhere, but even I'm sick of it now. Otoh, that means I don't need to rush to get to it and will have something new to watch in a couple of weeks when everything goes into repeats, so it'll serve it's purpose.

ER I *did* watch and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it in spite of every single person but Archie, Blonde Intern and Andrew irritating the crap out of me up until the end where I realized that David Lyons is a *really* good actor. Still, that's only four and I had to wait 55 minutes for one of them. Sam, Stamos, Neela, Dubenko, and so on and so on were just pissing me off and I'm not sure that it was *me*. Pretty sure they were just behaving horribly last night. Scott Grimes, bizarrely, might be the only one I miss if and when it finally goes off the air.

And I thought Daria and Andrew were a couple, too. They're not? Because even if she didn't describe him as her brother (which I'm pretty sure she did) they were suddenly throwing in things about growing up together that didn't seem to mesh with what we'd already learned about them. Which, apparently, wasn't so much stuff we learned as stuff we all hallucinated?

Pamela Jaye said...

does Brenner wear eye-liner? he always seemed odd to me - maybe it was more than just his behavior...

(also, I find it "kind" to refer to Sloan as a grownup. He may be making progress, though)

Pamela Jaye said...

okay, the eye thing (surgery, not liner) reminded me of House - although they've done similar on ER before (I think it was Ross who did it - the kid had to have the side of her eye cut open. this week's one was grosser. i have no idea if it was the same injury)

and even after 22 years of contacts (though the first insertion took a full hour (for one eye)) it was still very very hard to watch)

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, the fecal implant story was absurd in the extreme. I think the Grey's writers need to seek jobs on Fringe because that's the kind of "medical" stories they are writing. There are about 50 better ways to treat C. difficile than transplanting your spouse's shit in your colon.

In real life, every single intern would be out of the program for that little appendectomy stunt. But Grey's isn't about real life anymore, just see the Izzy/Denny arc.

All that said, nice to see John Allen Nelson working. And I'm enjoying the Yang/Hunt development.

Unknown said...

When they first announced the casting of the new interns, I read that they would be brother and sister. But in their first scene with the ID photos, it wasn't made clear, and of course having the same surname doesn't help. Since then it has been pretty ambiguous. At least now they're not "secretly" brother and sister.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand the Izzie/Denny story line-in fact I hated it when he was alive.

Yet, I continue to watch, because Kevin McKidd adds real acting chops to this series. He and Sandra Oh have lots of chemistry, and both are acting rings around their compadres.

I did like the McSteamy storyline, that is the first time he seemed really human to me.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Are you going to do a Pushing Daisies post for the last ep, Alan?

Eventually. As with anything on the blog, I need to watch it first.

Stef said...

I totally agree with Kristen, and my favorite characters on Grey's have always been the attendings and the Chief, with sometimes Cristina. (Like sometimes Y?) Sloan was great in this episode, and the Callie-Bailey scene was lightyears beyond what the main characters often show. It made me sad to remember when Addison was also part of the grown-up club, as I miss that character and gave up on PP after 2 eps.

I can not for the life of me figure out how they'll resolve this Izzie/Denny storyline if it's NOT a tumor. (Bring in the CA governor?) Is this some strange crossover with Supernatural??? As far out as this storyline is, if they wanted to do a ghostly "Izzie needs to get over Denny before she can be with someone else" plot, the time for it was LAST year. Now, 2 years later, it is just that much more ridiculous. And are they going to give JDM more than variations on the same line over and over again? "I'm here for you. I'm really here, for you. I'll be right here, for you." Ugh!

Anonymous said...

I must admit I'm seriously impressed with how the writers and Scott Grimes have turned Archie from a typical one-note young doctor character to, as an earlier poster said, the show's main character. I rarely tune into ER, but when I do, it's to see what Archie's up to. Hard to believe that's the kid from Critters.

Anonymous said...

Comments only on ER (I don't watch Grey's and it sounds like I'm not really missing anything):
It's not that shocking that Scott Grimes has taken Dr. Morris from an incompetent, mean-spirited, implausible walking punchline to a terrific doctor who is likable--ER mastered the formula of taking a character from jerk to someone we're rooting for around, oh, 15 years ago with Dr. Benton. Morris' arc also resembles the redemption tales for Dr. Pratt, Kerry Weaver, and Abby Lockhart to a lesser extent (Abby was always competent, but the show took its time in making her likable).
Leland Orser has done terrific work as Dubenko. He told Neela what she needed to hear--if you don't want to teach, you're not needed here and can leave ASAP--and she listened. I like the way Neela is sympathetic and flawed at the same time; for her mix of being a good person with being an unforgiving professional who's not much for cutting slack to people who can't match her excellence, she's a lot like Kerry was.
And I'm glad they finally spelled out what happened with Gates and his best friend from Desert Storm. It made his efforts to help veteran Max plausible. One thing I always appreciated about ER is that the show usually clarified why characters were acting strangely. The main reason that Sam is my least favorite person on the show is they seem reluctant to give her that kind of background.

Zach said...

I hated most of the Denny/Izzie thing, but I was surprisingly moved by that last bit as Izzie went off to sleep with Alex. That was a neat dilemma. I still think this is the dumbest story in the show's history.

Pamela Jaye said...

I think Sam has enough backstory, I just don't find any of it interesting.

See was scooping ice cream at (the mall?) at 15 when she met the father/future convict, got swept off her feet/pregnant, and married. and divorced. and somehow in the middle of moving from town to town, and job to job, managed to get thru nursing school. (actually, probably before the moving - she chnaged jobs a lot, till Alex fell for Luka)

Anonymous said...

The Izzy/Denny storyline is the single most ridiculous thing Ihave ever watched on a drama.

She is having ghost sex now?

Izzie is the least enjoyable character on any show I can remember. I would say that Katherine Heigl must be an amazing actress to portray someone so unnerving, but she was just as much of a frantic bitch in Knocked Up.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I thought the 2 interns on ER were a couple too, really kinda freaked me out to think otherwise now. Explains why they didn't make much of Daria flirting with Gates (since she wasn't being unfaithful to anyone). I guess them being "in sync" and all that was because of being twins? But still...I'd be interested to see transcripts of the first few episodes to see what it was that we misunderstood.
Re: C.diff - actually fecal transplant is probably one of the most effective and least harmful ways to treat's just not socially acceptable so we use the alternatives (which, btw, there are only about 3-4, not 50.
The other thing about Sam's backstory I think is a history of abuse by her ex-, hence her not being that shook up by him raping her that night in the van, and probably a large reason she decided it was time to end his involvement in their lives forever.