Category Archives: Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy – “Rise Up”

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“Rise Up”

November 6th, 2008

After what fans are starting to call “Brookegate” (a title I quite like since it emphasizes that the loss of the actress is equally as frustrating as the loss of the character), going into “Rise Up” was a very strange feeling. While we all knew, based on Michael Ausiello’s story at Entertainment Weekly, that this was her last episode, and we even knew that her final scene saw her walking off to her car never to be heard from again, we didn’t know the circumstances that caused it.

After learning the circumstances, though, I don’t think it’s resolved any of the issues currently rising within a campaign against ABC for their decision. What the episode was for Callie and Erica was a reversal of roles, of Callie’s reservations being replaced with Erica’s ethical dilemma about working at the hospital and being part of this staff. As a storyline, it felt natural: it was entirely logical that Hahn would explode with anger after finding out that Izzie was responsible for her patient losing a heart, and this was something that could challenge her position at Seattle Grace.

But it felt like a detour, not the end of the road: rather than send Dr. Hahn off into the sunset, this felt like a storyline set to add a professional wrinkle to the same sex relationship and Erica’s relationship with her fellow surgeons at Seattle Grace. Instead of taking this opportunity to investigate the ethics of this situation, however, Shonda Rhimes has chosen instead to send Erica off into the sunet – the irony is that while there’s a web of deceit surrounding the firing, everything that the character said to Callie in that final scene about this situation was entirely true.

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Content, Context and Conduct: Brooke Smith’s Departure from Grey’s Anatomy

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Content, Context and Conduct

November 6th, 2008

smithhahnWhen the news broke over the weekend, it was an odd kind of déjà vu. It was only a year and a half ago that Isaiah Washington was dumped from Grey’s Anatomy for his behaviour on set, in particular in regards to homophobic remarks directed at co-star T.R. Knight, so the event does strike a certain familiarity. However, while scandal may be par for the course for the ABC series, news that Brooke Smith’s character, lesbian Dr. Erica Hahn, has been unceremoniously written out of the show [via EW’s Michael Ausiello] is an issue that is not about the performer’s conduct but rather the context and content of their storyline. The objectionable conduct is not their own actions, but rather the decision by both Shonda Rhimes and ABC to oust this character for reasons that, while not definitively questionable, seem suspicious.

I don’t believe that this is a simple situation, or that this storyline is in itself a creative high point for the drama series: from the beginning, it has felt like a convenient storyline to keep two characters relevant to the melodrama that permeates the series rather than a consistent character development (especially for Sara Ramirez’s Callie). But the decision to end the storyline feels the exact opposite of “organic,” which is ABC’s official line: while eventually Smith’s exit from the show could have felt like a natural event, instead reports about it being linked to a broader concern of the trajectory of the show’s investigation into homosexuality feel almost frighteningly familiar, and scarily believable.

So when Smith makes her exit from Grey’s Anatomy tonight, and we say goodbye to Erica Hahn as a regular character, all attention shifts to a network and a showrunner who, honestly, should know better.
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Season Premiere: Grey’s Anatomy – “Dream a Little Dream of Me”

“Dream a Little Dream of Me”

September 25th, 2008

I implore you, faithful readers: if you can find a single person who cares more about Meredith and Derek than they do about the newly arrived Kevin McKidd, or the three tragic couplings who populated this week’s episode, I commend your sleuthing skills.

I’m not exactly what one would call a Grey’s Anatomy superfan by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s one of those shows I keep watching if only to see what Shonda Rhimes does to step it up from her past mistakes. She is a good showrunner, it seems, but one who has on too many occasions as of late hit on the wrong notes for her main characters. Whether it was stretch out Meredith and Derek for too long, the complete and utter mess that was George and Izzie, or even the continued fall-out from Isaiah Washington’s departure, a show that was once a dramatic heavyweight needed three dying men, three adulterous, emotionally distraught, or brain damaged wives, and a suave new field surgeon love interest for Christina in order to make this season premiere feel anything like a premiere.

That she succeeded is in fact perhaps the most frustrating thing of all: it shows that she can write, just apparently not for the people we need to deal with every week.

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Grey’s Anatomy – “Piece of My Heart”

“Piece of My Heart”

May 1st, 2008

It’s certain: we have missed Addison Montgomery. I never got into Private Practice, a show that I found too preachy and too talkative for its own good (A comment that Addison makes when trying to discern things from glances and eyebrow raises instead of the long-winded speeches of LA). This is a show that, for too long, has been decipherable: these characters have been acting out of character, scrambling around and struggling without really coming out and saying it.

Well, they’re coming out and saying it now: often it only takes one new influence for things to perk up, and Addison Montgomery is that character. It’s a cheap plot device on the surface, sure, but we create a sense of drama that we haven’t seen in a year. Something about her arrival, and the surgeries that surround it, influences our characters across the board. She is the person that they can talk to, someone who won’t be around for the drama and who wants to know how things will change.

The result is some great character turns, some drama being drawn from humanity and not chaos, and an emotionally charged hour of television.

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Strike Finale Night: Grey’s Anatomy, 30 Rock, Ugly Betty

Last night saw three shows (Two I rarely blog about) finish their seasons prematurely due to the Writers’ Strike. It is unfortunate, of course, because this means two and a half less hours of television each week (Thursdays will never be the same). Alas, let’s take a quick look at how these shows managed with finales which were, well, not meant to be finales. (I’ll be back with Friday Night Lights tonight and Golden Globes nods tomorrow, assuming this cold doesn’t destroy me).

Grey’s Anatomy – “Lay Your Hands On Me”

This quasi-finale was a solid episode which at least felt like a conclusion to a story or two. Central to the episode is Bailey’s son being injured in an accident, extenuating the marital issues we saw before the break. Bailey blames herself, blames Hahn for keeping her out of surgery, and eventually accepts a healer who is able to pull Tuck back to life.

This was fine, but I actually felt like it felt too much like Emmy bait for Chandra Wilson, even when her character is as great as she is. We’ve had a lot of Bailey in recent weeks, ever since the Gizzie backlash became apparent. We had her fantastic episode with her childhood crush, we had her altercation with the Nazi in “Crash Into Me,” and now we have this tearful and emotional storyline here. I’d actually argue she was far more likable in the first episode, and thus it would be the better choice. Wilson was as great as ever here, but it felt a little bit too melodramatic.

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Grey’s Anatomy: “Crash into Me: Part One”

While it’s technically American Thanksgiving, which means I could probably get away with not posting out of an assumption that I am not based in Canada, I’ll have to live up to my heritage. There wasn’t much on in terms of new programming tonight, but ABC was offering a full lineup of programming. Last night, it hit them pretty hard to do so – Pushing Daisies, Private Practice and Dirty Sexy Money saw huge drops.

I don’t often blog about Grey’s Anatomy, and admittedly I started drifting away from the series at the beginning of the season. However, a lazy afternoon (A dying breed as the term comes to a close) resulted in a bit of catchup, and I’m back on the train: for better or for worse, the show still holds its charm. With George and Izzie largely relegated to the backburner, and the addition of Dr. Hahn proving vastly beneficial to changing the show’s dynamics, the show has earned the right to have one of its “big disaster episodes.”

I’m usually not a huge fan of these storylines – ever since the train crash and the bomb scare, which were some of the show’s finer moments, it seems that they’ve gone bigger and bigger with really no benefit. Last year’s ferry crash was particular disastrous, and not in a good way – it dragged on far too long, became too centered on Meredith, and didn’t seem to do anything for the rest of the show’s storylines. And thus, heading into this week’s “event” (as ABC’s promotion department decided to call it), I wasn’t overly thrilled.

Well, let’s give thanks that this time around it was really just a marketing ploy – while it may be in two parts, Crash into Me is a much more isolated story than you might realize.

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Cultural Learnings’ Fall 2007 Lineup: Thursdays

Yes, I am aware that there was a delay in posting Thursday’s lineup, but there was a reason for this. I’ve been anxious over this day in particular because, as per usual, it remains the most packed night of programming on the Fall Schedule, especially for me. And last night, I decided to see whether I might (finally) be able to cut Survivor out of my Thursday lineup. And, well, see below for whether or not that worked.

The Office

Airing four hour long episodes early in the season before Scrubs premieres, The Office is taking on Grey’s Anatomy single-handedly this year. It hopes to sustain last year’s ratings, and certainly has a decent shot at it. There’s some exciting developments heading into this season (Ryan as the boss, Jim/Pam, etc.), so even some uneven episodes won’t keep me away.

Cultural Learnings’ Review of The Office Finale 

30 Rock

This Emmy-winning comedy has the unfortunate circumstance of being located within a rather difficult timeslot: sure, it belonged to The Office last year, but it’s also against two other shows I’m interested in covering. Still, it gets this particular spot regardless of that development: the show was too good last season to consider putting on the backburner, although it doesn’t debut for a while yet.

Cultural Learnings’ 30 Rock Coverage 

Survivor: China

Yeah, I’m weak: as much as I might claim I can disconnect from this series in its 15th season, it just isn’t happening this time around. The cast of characters have already had a chance to make their impact, and the challenges despite repetition are usually enough to suck me in. I’ve tended to skip the Tribal Council sequences more now, but the point stands: I’m covering Survivor.

Cultural Learnings’ Survivor Coverage 

The Other Shows

Ugly Betty and Grey’s Anatomy are in a tough spot for me, one in terms of time period and the other due to a weak third season. Ugly Betty ended its first season on a high note, and certainly has a lot of momentum moving forward. But I never feel like I’m “caught up” in it, which is the way I perhaps felt about Grey’s Anatomy before a frustrating last stanza. The George/Izzie relationship took out a lot of steam, so it’s going to be wait and see for the series.

I’ll also be watching Scrubs when it returns late in the year, although my interest in that series has also wained.

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