Before Sweeps: Grading Grey’s Anatomy


How is the fallout from the hospital shooting going over with this viewer? What’s working? What isn’t?

How does Grey’s Anatomy grade for this season?

As a long-time soap fan, it’s hardly surprising I gravitate toward sudsy dramas, even in primetime. I just can’t resist the over-the-top drama that only good soaps provide. Currently three of my favorites can be found on ABC — Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Brothers & Sisters. As November sweeps approaches, it seems like a good time to give a mid-term status update some of my guilty pleasures.

Grey’s is using the aftermath of last year’s shocking season-ending hospital shooting and fallout as a catalyst for how the main characters are or aren’t coping with the trauma of that event. This theme has played throughout the first couple of episodes and is expected to continue. For some characters, this has worked very well; for others, not so much.

In the not-so-much column lies Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd (Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey). What in the world has happened to my Mer and Der? They’ve gone from thrilling to tranquilizing.  Even Derek’s need for speed in the aftermath of being shot is completely yawn-inducing. And while I’m glad Meredith is less dark and twisty than in years past, she’s also lost some of her appealing edge. Why does sane Mer have to equal boring Mer? A message to showrunner and creator Shonda Rhimes: Give the Voice of Grey’s her edge back!

What about Meredith’s “soul mate” Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh)? I’ve always respected this character. She never hid that surgery was her life until the shooting robbed her of her ability to cut. This current plotline is an intriguing development for a character who has always defined herself by her profession. Will people still accept Dr. Yang if she can’t be a surgeon?  Will she accept herself? Unfortunately, the union of Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) and Cristina doesn’t thrill me nearly as much. In part, it’s because I’ve always felt their pairing was more of a bone thrown after Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) was written out of the show, but regardless, I just don’t buy their relationship. It seems forced and contrived.  Separately, however, I adore both these characters so I hope they break up with each other soon and move on to other Seattle Grace staff members.

Other hospital hook-ups fare better. Callie Torres and Arizona Robbins (Sara Ramirez and Jessica Capshaw) share a fun and fiery relationship and if the writers pursue the Callie wants a baby storyline, it could add another layer.  I also adore the pairing of Mark Sloan and Lexie Grey (Eric Dane and Chyler Leigh). These two work and given the age difference, it’s just more proof that chemistry is an intangible that can’t be manufactured. Moreover, Mark is just a better man with Lexie. In fact, I’d even say he’s the better person in this relationship and that it’s Lexie who doesn’t fully deserve Mark. But since they’re not currently together, very little of that great chemistry is appearing on-screen.  That’s a shame as the show could use a spark right now.

The three newbies, April Kepner, Jackson Avery and Teddy Altman (Sarah Drew, Jesse Williams and Kim Raver) are still unknowns for me and so I’m on the fence. Jackson is undeniably beautiful, but there’s no shortage of gorgeous guys on Grey’s so that alone won’t cut it. Young April, so far, seems like Lexie Lite.  And harsh as it is, Teddy is so uninteresting that I have no opinion of her. So the jury’s still out on this trio.

There has also been some conspicuous absences this season. Where’s Dr. Bailey, Chief Webber and that fascinating enigma Alex Karev (Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr., and Justin Chambers)?  They’ve had almost zero story so far, other than peripherally.  Of the three, I most miss Dr. Karev. His character, for me, is by far the most dynamic on Grey’s and he can’t possibly have too much screen time. More Alex!

No Grey’s recap would be complete without mentioning the lack of intensity in storylines this year. So far, the pace has seemed too leisurely and there isn’t one episode that truly stands out. In seasons past, Grey’s has pulled out all the stops for their November episodes, so here’s hoping it holds true this year.

For now, I have to give Grey’s a disappointing mid-term grade of C.

Tomorrow I’ll review this season of Private Practice….

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