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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Highlights and Lowlights: The Emotional Rollercoaster of the 2007 Emmy Awards

I won’t attempt to claim that I am any different than the myriad of television writers out there: I was never going to “like” the outcome of the Emmy Awards. My cynicism was front and center when it came to reacting to the winners, and even the more positive moments were passed off as exceptions to the rule, not a sign of changes to Emmy’s usual stagnation.

But even weighing this predisposed opinion regarding the validity of the ceremony, last night’s award show was perhaps the most emotionally manipulative in some time. By the end, it actually had us cynics doubting the most well-established prediction of the entire evening: The Sopranos winning Best Drama Series. Of course, David Chase’s departing HBO series won that Emmy, but I actually for a second doubted that.

And I don’t know if it’s good or bad: the emotional rollercoaster that the night represented hit so many inversions that anything seemed possible. Perhaps I am simply extremely malleable, but I was right along with them with my own emotional corkscrews and loop-to-loops. And, as such, I use those emotions to feature the highlights and lowlights of the 2007 Emmy Awards.

Disbelief FOX Pre-Show Uses Britney to Push Ratings

This rumour that Britney Spears would appear and apologize for the VMAs incident fascinated me. Not because I was interested in Britney, of course, but rather I was fascinated that anyone actually believed it. The fact that FOX would prey on that public misconception throughout the pre-show, as if they didn’t know whether she was present, shouldn’t surprise me…but that was the reaction it elicited. [Sidenote: Why was there no actual Countdown on the Countdown to the Emmys?]

Discomfort – Awkward and Inappropriate Jokes and Cuts

Early on, the Emmys hit a rather unfortunate stride: an awkwardly impersonal opening animation act from Brian and Stewie from Family Guy, a questionable cut from a joke about Isaiah Washington to T.R. Knight within said segment, and then Neil Patrick Harris’ unfortunate jailbait joke regarding Hayden Pannetiere – all within about fifteen minutes. It continued on into the rest of the night (Brad Garrett, anyone?), and even Seacrest had some borderline “humour” in his repetoire.

Nostalgia – Emmy Rewards People for the Past

Terry O’Quinn. Jaime Pressley. Katherine Heigl. Conan O’Brien. These four are, amongst others, representing a particular trend: deserving performers who really should have won their respective awards in previous years. O’Quinn was robbed for his turn on Lost’s first season, but remains deserving this year, and the same can be said for Pressley even if my heart was with Jenna Fischer. And Late Night with Conan O’Brien had never won a single Emmy, so its victory in Writing was a long-deserved one.

But Heigl, despite her radiance and grace on stage, really deserved to be recognized for last season’s arc with Denny, as opposed to this season’s whiny George/Izzie period. Her character became one-dimensional and one-note, and even if she remained strong I don’t see that as a worthy winner of this award.

Confusion – The Sopranos go Broadway

I am still trying to decipher just why we had a musical tribute to the Sopranos from the cast of Jersey Boys. The music didn’t particularly relate to the series, and it seemed like a simple video tribute (Maybe asking various stars their thoughts on The Sopranos) and then the curtain call would have been both shorter and more fitting. The theatrical and broad is not, although FOX may disagree, necessary in every single situation.

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Emmys 2007: Cultural Learnings’ Final Emmy Awards Predictions

[Months ago, Cultural Learnings put its neck out there to predict which shows and performers might get those coveted Emmy Nominations. Now, it’s time to put the prediction power to the test again, predicting who will win during tomorrow night’s ceremony. Some of them might be wishful thinking, others might be far too safe. Regardless, it’s our job to stand by them to the bitter end. We’ll see how things turn out during tomorrow night’s LiveBlogging Extravaganza!]

Cultural Learnings’ 2007 Emmy Predictions

Oustanding Drama Series

The Sopranos [WINNER]

Heroes

Boston Legal

Grey’s Anatomy

House

[It only won once, it had a critically acclaimed final season, and the rest of the competition was either too uneven or too green. Simply put, it is the class of this field, and will easily walk home with the Emmy]

Oustanding Comedy Series

The Office

Entourage

Two and a Half Men

30 Rock [WINNER]

Ugly Betty

[This is going with my gut on this one, but I think that 30 Rock combines the liberal-minded sentiment of Emmy voters and strong pedigree in Baldwin/Fey. The Office got their due last year, and Ugly Betty will get theirs eventually. This is 30 Rock’s year.]

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

James Spader (Boston Legal)

James Gandolfini (The Sopranos) [WINNER]

Kiefer Sutherland (24)

Denis Leary (Rescue Me)

Hugh Laurie (House)

[While Laurie is a potential spoiler, I’d say that Gandolfini should easily ride the Sopranos wave to victory within this category.]

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) [WINNER]

Ricky Gervais (Extras)

Steve Carell (The Office)

Tony Shahloub (Monk)

Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)

[Picking between Carell and Baldwin is very tough, as Carell got robbed last year, but I think that Baldwin was the breakout star of the year in comedy, while Carell’s star just didn’t shine as brightly.]

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2007-2008 Fall Premiere Dates – FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC and The CW

This fall, all of your favourite shows will be returning, and some new blood will join the pack. Which nights should you be scheduling off? Here’s the full calendar list of premiere dates for the Big 5 Networks.

NOTE: New shows are shown in blue.

September 6th

8:00pm

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader [FOX]

September 11th

8:00pm

The Biggest Loser [NBC]

September 12th

9:00pm

Kitchen Nightmares [FOX]

September 14th

9:00pm

Nashville [FOX]

September 17th

8:00pm

Prison Break [FOX]

9:00pm

K-Ville [FOX]

September 18th

8:00pm

Beauty & The Geek [Two Hours] [The CW]

Bones [FOX]

September 19th

8:00pm

Kid Nation [CBS]

America’s Next Top Model [The CW]

Back To You [FOX]

8:30pm

‘Til Death [FOX]

9:00pm

Gossip Girl [The CW]

September 20th

8:00pm

Survivor: China [CBS]

September 23rd

8:00pm

The Simpsons [FOX]

8:30pm

King of the Hill [FOX]

9:00pm

Cold Case [CBS]

Family Guy [FOX]

10:00pm

Shark [CBS]

September 24th

8:00pm

How I Met Your Mother [CBS]

Chuck [NBC]

Dancing with the Stars [ABC]

8:30pm

Big Bang Theory [CBS]

9:00pm

Heroes [NBC]

Two and a Half Men [CBS]

9:30pm

Rules of Engagement [CBS]

The Bachelor [ABC]

10:00pm

CSI: Miami [CBS]

Journeyman [NBC]

September 25th

8:00pm

New Amsterdam [FOX]

NCIS [CBS]

Dancing with the Stars (Results) [ABC]

9:00pm

House [FOX]

The Unit [CBS]

Reaper [The CW]

9:30pm

The Singing Bee [NBC]

Boston Legal [ABC] [Special 90 Minute Premiere]

10:00pm

Cane [CBS]

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit [NBC]

September 26th

8:00pm

Deal or No Deal [NBC]

9:00pm

The Bionic Woman [NBC]

Criminal Minds [CBS]

Private Practice [ABC]

10:00pm

Life [NBC]

CSI: New York [CBS]

Dirty Sexy Money [ABC]

September 27th

8:00pm

My Name is Earl [NBC]

Smallville [The CW]

Ugly Betty [ABC]

9:00pm

The Office [NBC]

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation [CBS]

Grey’s Anatomy [ABC]

10:00pm

ER [NBC]

Without a Trace [CBS]

Big Shots [ABC]

September 28th

8:00pm

Ghost Whisperer [CBS]

Deal of No Deal [NBC]

9:00pm

Moonlight [CBS]

10:00pm

Las Vegas [NBC]

Numb3rs [CBS]

September 30th

7:00pm

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (2 hours) [ABC]

9:00pm

Desperate Housewives [ABC]

9:30pm

American Dad [FOX]

10:00pm

Brothers & Sisters [ABC]

October 1st

8:00pm

Everybody Hates Chris [The CW]

8:30pm

Aliens in America [The CW]

9:00pm

Girlfriends [The CW]

9:30pm

The Game [The CW]

October 2nd

8:00pm

Cavemen [ABC]

8:30pm

Carpoolers [ABC]

October 3rd

8:00pm

Pushing Daisies [ABC]

October 4th

8:30pm

30 Rock [NBC]

9:00pm

Supernatural [The CW]

October 5th

9:00pm

Friday Night Lights [NBC]

October 12th

8:00pm

20/20 [ABC]

9:00pm

Women’s Murder Club [ABC]

10:00pm

Men in Trees [ABC]

October 15th

9:30pm

Samantha Who? [ABC]

October 18th

10:00pm

Viva Laughlin (Preview) [CBS]

October 21st

8:00pm

Viva Laughlin [CBS]

October 25th

9:30pm

Scrubs [NBC]

November 27th

10:00pm

Cashmere Mafia [ABC]

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