"GREY’S ANATOMY: SEASON ONE"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Ellen Pompeo as MEREDITH GREY
Sandra Oh as CHRITINA YANG
Katherine Heigl as ISOBEL “IZZIE” STEVENS
Justin Chambers as ALEX KAREV
T.R. Knight as GEORGE O’MALLEY
Chandra Wilson as MIRANDA BAILEY
Isaiah Washington as PRESTON BURKE
Patrick Dempsey as DEREK SHEPHERD
Studio: Touchstone Television
Created by: Shonda Rimes
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Somewhere between “Scrubs” and “E.R.” lies “Grey’s Anatomy.” It’s like “Scrubs” in many ways, almost ripping off the classic dramady. The structure is very similar, following a group of interns in a hospital. There’s introductory narration from the main character, and popular songs bridge the gaps between scenes.
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Also like “Scrubs,” “Grey’s Anatomy” relies on some comedy while “E.R.” is painstakingly serious. This is an angle I appreciate more than anything else, considering that it’s human nature to use humor to get through troubling times. In some ways, it seems that creator Shonda Rimes developed the show to be a more serious version of “Scrubs” with a female lead.
As a mid-season replacement, “Grey’s Anatomy” quickly became an acclaimed show. The first season is out on DVD, with only nine episodes. It’s a look at a genesis of a show, beginning with a fairly stable pilot, then struggling through three or four more episodes as the characters find their place.
By comparing the pilot to the rest of the episodes in the series, it’s easy to see where the network tinkered with the story. At first, it tried to be too serious. Then it tried to be too funny. “Grey’s Anatomy” presents itself like a “Sex in the City” show taking place within a hospital. However, it comes across better than that. (In other words, the surgeons aren’t drinking cosmopolitans while they talk about orgasms and tantric sex.)
Ellen Pompeo leads the cast as Meredith Grey, whose mother was a phenomenal surgeon at the hospital where she is now an intern. Grey has two big secrets – her mother is suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease, and she’s also sleeping with her resident, Dr. Shepherd (Patrick Dempsy). Other interns include Izzie (Katherine Heigl) as the underwear model-turned-surgeon, George (T.R. Knight) as the nice guy whose got a crush on Meredith, Alex (Justin Chambers) as the cocky, good-looking doctor and Christina (Sandra Oh) as the hard-nosed overachiever.
By the time you reach the end of the first season, the characters have settled into place and the show strikes a balance between the medical drama and the interpersonal lives of the characters. It falls into some disease-of-the-week traps, and you could take bets on each show as to which patient will die.
The character of Meredith is a bit too whiney for my tastes. I prefer Izzie and Christina, although Izzie gets a little too attached to her patients, bouncing her character into manic depression fits. I suppose this is realistic, but it will burn her character out fast if it doesn’t change.
The strongest member of the cast is Sandra Oh, who deserves all the accolades she’s receiving from the show. It’s nice to see her get a big break after spending so much time in that prison cell of a show called “Arli$$.”
The DVD comes with 19 unaired scenes which include a selection of alternates in the series pilot. Show creator Shonda Rimes talks the viewer through the scenes from the pilot and explains why they were cut or changed. There is a behind-the-scenes featurette as well as an alternate opening and a funny avant-garde trailer for the series. Rimes (along with director Peter Horton) and the cast (Sandra Oh, Katie Heigl and T.R. Knight) provide separate commentaries for the pilot episode on the first disc.
Emerging from the mid-season scramble, “Grey’s Anatomy” gelled relatively quickly, which kept it afloat for a second season. It’s getting some notice, including some Emmy and Golden Globes nods, so we can expect more from the doctors at Seattle Grace in the years to come. “Scrubs” is still my favorite, but “Grey’s Anatomy” will do in a pinch.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.78:1). English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.