Friday, March 20, 2009

Grey's Anatomy, "Stand By Me": Doctor/patient privilege

Quick spoilers for last night's "Grey's Anatomy" coming up just as soon as I get a beer...

I haven't written about the last couple of episodes of "Grey's," but it feels like this season has finally taken a turn for the better, with "Stand By Me" being the first episode since very early in the season that I liked pretty much unreservedly. Now, this is two seasons in a row of "Grey's" where we had to suffer through a whole lot of heinousness (ghost sex, Frankenstein interns, and Asperger Doc this year; George + Izzie, the end of Bailey's marriage, and non-stop moping by everyone last year) before Shonda finally pulled things out of the tailspin late in the year. (Both upswings, perhaps not coincidentally, were punctuated by a Kate Walsh guest appearance.) Considering that this season started off pretty well before flying off the rails, maybe ABC should figure out some kind of scheduling plan that keeps the show off the air in the winter and only around for fall and spring.

Regardless of all the silliness that took us to this point, Izzie's illness is now being taken seriously by the show and its characters, and I liked seeing Yang struggle to keep the secret, to the point of almost messing up her first solo surgery. And Justin Chambers and Chandra Wilson did a great job acting with their eyes when Cristina spilled the beans in the operating room. And, of course, Izzie's problem ties in neatly with Derek's crisis of confidence, which gave Meredith the opportunity to make a very mature and well-phrased argument for why he needs to get back to the hospital already, regardless of what happens with them.

Derek's story was maybe the strongest part of the episode, as his sense of helplessness slowly engulfed first Callie, then Hunt, a set of characters we've rarely seen spend much time together before. And that in turn led to the Chief coming in for an emotional ass-kicking, which has always been one of James Pickens' specialties.

I also thought the interns were better used here than they've been at any point to date. We're seeing the hospital from the point of view of what are now the second-year residents, but there were interns before them and interns after them, and surely Lexie isn't the only one of them going through her own equivalent of what we saw over the first few seasons. It's good to see that they're catty, too, and that they have their own personal drama going on that Meredith is trying to avoid noticing just as much as Bailey tried to ignore her drama back in the day.

People keep asking me why I suffer through this show I bash so often, and that's so easy to beat up on or abandon. An episode like this, and the possibilities it creates for the remainder of the season, is why. When "Grey's" is good, it's very very good. And when it's bad, people have sex with ghosts.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I strongly agree with your thoughts on Grey's. The last couple weeks were strong. I particularly enjoyed the scenes out at Derek's trailer this week.

Byron Hauck said...

Re: Our continuing patronage.

Plus, it's just so easy to watch. I get mad when Grey's is terrible, but I never really think about quitting.

Megan Carlson said...

I definitely think this was an improvement on earlier episodes, and really enjoyed Cristina's reactions to Izzie's news. (It's nice how well they've humanized her and taken her beyond being the very smart but feelings-less Asian cliche into a deeper character.)

And while I am glad to see the stupid ghost stuff gone, it seems kind of off to me that Izzie's dying and we haven't seen any symptoms for quite some time (months in broadcast terms, I think). It's harder to take her situation with the proper gravity when she doesn't appear sick.

(My husband commented that Alex is going to fall to bits when Izzie dies, and I told him my pet theory now is that Izzie will be fine, but George will die. I don't have any spoilers to back that up, I just have this gut feeling. I hope I'm wrong, because I like George a lot more than Izzie.)

Anonymous said...

This was one of the best episodes in years. Loved Bailey's concern that Callie & Hunt had been hacked into pieces, put on a spit and turned into schiskabobs by a one-armed man. Hilarious! And the scenes with Dempsey and Pickens were dynamite. Also loved the last scene with Callie & Cristina on the bench. This is the Grey's I know and love. Hope we get more of it from here on out.

Pamela Jaye said...

When "Grey's" is good, it's very very good. And when it's bad, people have sex with ghosts.

I'm going to have to steal that. Not sure for what, at the moment. It would make a great sig... but there are other places. Hope you don't mind. I promise to credit you.

I really loved last night's ep, much as I suffered thru it due to severe pollen issues and the phone which would not stop ringing (ABC comes in so cruddy on the new DVR, you would think it's UPN - so to see pretty, I have to watch DTV - and that cannot be paused. Trust me, I was ready to smack the roommate when he called to ask which kind of biscuits to buy just as Izzie was having one of many intense moments)

Really, there's not a lot I can add - you covered all the good stuff.

I did want to mention, as I already don't remember if you did - that yes, Dr Dixon was not on last night, but that brought something to mind (aside from my joy that Callie got to do something that didn't have to do with sex for a change) - These people want to hire Dixon - not as a CT attending, but as DEPARTMENT HEAD (sorry for the caps).
I might just barely buy autistic/aspergers CT surgeon - but Department Head? I realize that not one dept head on Grey's actually runs a department (it could be because they Don't Have Offices) but still... this woman has problems dealing with people - so hey, why don't we hire her to Manage people...

back to last night - which I just loved to death.

The interns are human! They aren't just secretly playing Surgeon Teach Thyself in the basement (btw, there is a new Grey's Video Game -which is getting absolutely no press. or maybe i don't read video game press) but they have actual lives! the usual SGH drama (Zoanne, the writer, said that in her hospital she's an ER doc now,but this was residency) someone was going with a superior, so yeah, I guess it really does happen. (not just with Carter and Abby Keaton)

and I loved Mer and George dealing with it.
and I loved the new tech - our residents don't text it seems. our interns are probably on Facebook and Twitter. In any case, I do hope it's not forgotten and we get to see what happens with Megan and the baby (my guess, they ship her to HIMYM and hide behind things. kidding)

Cristina holding Izzie's hand, Callie and Hunt falling into The Black Hole That Is Derek, The Chief paraphasing Leo McGarry's man in a hole story (kind of), our five interns together at the end... there was so much going on, I forgot about Faceless Guy.
And I was eating during that first scene...

I don't think this is the best episode ever, but I might be hard pressed to beat it. (I'd probably vote for something with Ellis - like Wishin' and Hopin')

Aside from Denny (and Hahn and Sadie and Dixon) this has been a much better season. Perilously close to good in fact. And I'm just sad as to how much time they wasted in seasons 3 & 4. We only have 2 left!

I'd like to add that it puzzles me as to why our interns got a 4th year to ride herd over them, when it should have been an R2 (I think) as they now are.

I won't quibble much.
I'll just say that Denny, while now explainable, still wasn't a good idea IMO. Viewers rarely have that kind of patience.

Last week, the Chief asked if Derek was "going to grace us with his presence."
I found that amusing.

Shonda once said that the best parts of Grey's are when our five (then interns) are together, griping over their day, or whatever. I mostly agree. I watched 90210 for a while when they were on their all for one kick. I like it wherever I see it. Always will.

Another random thought - last week, in his attempt to scare Mer away, Derek took the lowest shot he could and called Mer a lemon. Not so oddly, this made me smile, wondering if Tina Fey named her character that on purpose.

And even with the gripe fest in the woods - Owen does not talk about Iraq.

So, I loved when Mer said no, and gave Derek the scans, and also when she didn't say he was the only surgeon in the country who might be able to "fix" Izzie (can he use the new protocol from last season?)

I'm just random tonight. I only saw the ep twice and that was yesterday ;-)

Did you see George 3.0? I love New George. I hope he doesn't really want to leave. I mean, they are giving him stuff to do now and all. I hope they don't kill Izzie (she might actually be Emmy worthy for real after all of this (I don't think she deserved to win the year she did))

and the people who said Wow, did you see? Patrick can act! Well, I guess they never saw Once and Again.
I love Derek (sometimes) but he's no Jeffrey Geiger. And yes, I have been spoiled. Even Aaron Shutt had his breakdown. It was my favorite Chicago Hope ep. So here, at least, is a place I *have* been before (on TV). It's okay.
I'm not sure whether or not I find it odd that Derek values Mer over his career. I guess I should be happy.
One thing - he callled what he botched "a simple surgery." Are brain aneurysms *routine* for neurologists??

Okay, I'm done for now. :-)
Thanks for giving me a place to vent and sing praises. Grey's Writers never posted my comments last week, but it's not that - here, it's more... cozy. (and of course, less biased)

and i haven't watched 30 Rock yet. (or Private Practice - where people continue to look for someone to match Josh Hopkins up with, after he's twice failed with Calista Flockhart)

Pamela Jaye said...

PS - after Grey's I watched ER, about which i will just say (for now) - happy. cried. both for the same reason.

Theresa said...

When "Grey's" is good, it's very very good. And when it's bad, people have sex with ghosts.

Exactly. This was such a satisfying episode in so many ways (which have already been pointed out here). I would just like to reemphasize how great Justin Chambers'(s? stupid last names ending in "s") acting was with his eyes. They were the only part of his face you could see when Cristina broke the news, and they broke my heart. Brilliant. I thought that Lexie's mini-speech to Sloan about their relationship was a bit cheesy ("they think we're ugly, but I know we're beautiful") and taking the patient/doctor parallel a bit far, but I'm glad that she's facing some social repercussions for bedding an attending much like Meredith did (briefly). Yeah, this episode was pretty friggin' good. Emmys for everyone! :)

I can't decide whether or not I think Izzie is actually going to die. It seems like it would be pretty awesome for TPTB to say, "You want to go? Well, here you go: we're going to give your character a 5% chance at surviving this wicked cancer and STILL not kill you off! Ha! That's what you get for saying our writing was crappy!" On the other hand, if she wants to go, she should go. I dunno. I'm fine with George leaving since he's been gone all season anyway and I haven't really missed his absence, but the idea of Izzie leaving now actually makes me kind of sad because I kind of like her again.

Stef said...

Bailey rocks. Her soap opera addiction and crazy imagination only make me love her more.

And I agree, Alan, Derek - Callie - Owen was a good combo. I like when they shake up the character groups every once in a while. Bailey-Addison-Callie is still my favorite friend group so far.

Anonymous said...

There was a lot of good in this episode, but I missed some of it, because I found all of the face transplant stuff too stomach turning to watch -- I had to fast forward through most of those scenes with my hand over my eyes.

Anonymous said...

it seems kind of off to me that Izzie's dying and we haven't seen any symptoms for quite some time (months in broadcast terms, I think). It's harder to take her situation with the proper gravity when she doesn't appear sick.

Of course, this is a valid criticism, but I learned long ago not to hold Grey's to any kind of high medical standard as doing so only results in disappointment and frustration.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed Private Practice more this season as a whole, but it looks like Greys is finally getting it's shit together.

Despite all the bitching about Katherine Heigl, the loss of Izzie is going to leave a void (if true).

Anonymous said...

Grays is a soap opera that doesn't feel like soap opera, so we don't feel like total saps for watching it, despite the fact that half the time it's mindless drama.

Does it bother anyone else that although we all hated the George and Izzie thing, it was dropped with really NO resolution whatsoever?

This week was great.

Pamela Jaye said...

not as much as the way the Lexie/George thing was dropped.

I'm surprised, as people are forever saying that Mer is self-obsessed, that no one noticed that while Derek is out in the woods drinking himself and everyone else into... whatever, that she's walking the halls wondering if she's been dumped??

I really found that section of dialogue very annoying.
*I* don't think Meredith is *that* self-obsessed. I found it out of character.

Also - every week, Fox throws meaningless "graphic" warnings at us for House. For a guy with half his face missing, we get nothing? (Does ABC have any standards at all? Seriously. NBC only gave us a warning when Romano lost an arm. And I was already numbed to the warnings and forgot to be careful and not look.)

Of course I was eating when they were taking off the donor's face. That was a bit difficult. (at least I wasn't physically present)

I hope they gave the guy some bones too..

Anonymous said...

Highlight for me was the scene with Bailey and Hunt - "people don't often say no to you do they?"

My problem with Greys is that the main characters are mostly written as children. When they are written a little more like normal people, as they were in this episode, it can work pretty well.

electricia said...

Yep, I agree, best episode in a very long time.I really liked that George seems to be an actual character again, and I thought the way he and Meredith played good cop/bad cop was great. There were so many good beats, as Alan and others have already covered.

I think the scene with Derek and the Chief was one of the best on the show in a long time. Patrick Dempsey played it so well, and he continued so nicely into the scene with Meredith, especially his expression when he asked if she'd still love him if he weren't a surgeon and she said no. Great acting from him.

Of course, I just watched the end of BSG, and I think my standard for great acting has been altered forever. It astounds me that this show get truckloads of Emmys while BSG is out there silently floating in space. Oh well, if Mary McDonnell gets and Emmy for playing Dr. Asperger's, at least she'll have an Emmy, which she certainly deserves.

Anonymous said...

Don't despair, electricia, it's only one two Emmys in five seasons.

Anonymous said...

One of my New Year's resolutions was to either quit complaining about Grey's Anatomy or quit watching it.

Installments like Thursdays (and hopefully the upcoming one) make me glad I decided to keep up and shut up.

Pamela Jaye said...

Yeah, Grey's doesn't get a lot of Emmys. I remember sitting watching one year as the show lost 11 Emmys.
When Katie won, I was shocked (and it was probably cause she had a movie. Do these Emmy voters even watch TV? Sandra or Chandra lost to Katie.I'd take myself out of the running too!)

So, no, they don't win a lot.And I'm not sure Justin has ever been nominated.

And we all know - SciFi shows don't win Emmys :-(

I'm not a big Dempsey fan, but I'd recommend his role as Lily's schizophrenic brother in Once & Again. Season 3 never got released, but 1 and 2 are out there.

Anonymous said...

What do I think? I think you should be watching Supernatural. Not every episode hits it out of the ballpark, but way more fun in the long run.

Pamela Jaye said...

is JDM still in that? (even if he was, it's not my cup of tea, but I heard he was, a while back)

Anonymous said...

I thought the special-effects makeup/prosthetics on Blowhole were stunning. I mean, it had to be makeup, right? I kept looking at it and not seeing how it could be makeup (where was HIS NOSE?), but I'm assuming there's not really an actor with that disfigurement out there.

Pamela Jaye said...

have they gotten a makeup/fx Emmy before?

darci said...

Fantastic episode! Definitely one of the best all season.

I really loved that song "Driveway" by Great Northern that plays while Meredith and Derek have their moment together while she pleads for him to help Izzy. Fit the scene so well...I thought i wasn't going to cry but this scene really did it to me. Grey's always has great music, but this scene and song really stuck with me, so I blogged about it here:

darci said...

Great episode…great to see that finally, after 3 seasons, the writer’s seemed to have come back to where the show started and what made originally made it a success. Loved the song at the end of the episode, “Driveway” by Great Northern. Anyone know when this season’s soundtrack comes out?