Grey's Anatomy Hopes to Recapture the Magic

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Over the second half of last season, Grey's Anatomy went from being the TV pal with whom every get-together feels like a giddy first date, to something more along the lines of a house guest who constantly gets on your nerves.

That's the assessment of the Contra Costa Times, and while it may seem a hit harsh, there's no doubt that many fans grew frustrated in Season 3.

The same with the cast members, who squabbled over the Isaiah Washington situation off screen, while on screen, a dark cloud hung over SGH.

Death, destruction and personal devastation reigned.

And oh, those creative missteps: Best pals George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) and Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) making booty calls? Ugh.

By the time the season of discontent was over, two key cast members were gone �" Washington and Kate Walsh, whose spin-off series, Private Practice, debuts tonight.

Gone, too, was much of the good will the show had built up.

As Grey's Anatomy returns for its fourth season tomorrow on ABC, its vital signs are strong, but still we wonder: Can this show get back to being the funny, frothy, intoxicating guilty pleasure it once was?

Ellen and Shonda
Fortunately, creator Shonda Rhimes is saying all the right things: It's time to lighten up, sex it up and have a blast!

"I came back to this season sort of mandating that we have a lot of fun," she told TV writers this summer. "I felt like Season 3 was a dark season. It just is. I mean, Meredith's (Ellen Pompeo) mom dies. George's dad dies. Meredith's stepmother dies. It was a bloodbath. But I want to get back to us enjoying it and having fun."

Still, Shonda Rhimes by no means cops to creative mismanagement.

While she admits the behind-the-scenes drama of last season was difficult, she stands by the direction of the show's storytelling: "It felt like the journey these characters needed to take" - and even the George and Izzie plotline.

"I understand it," she says of negative reaction to the unexpected couple. "I think, when Meredith and Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Alex (Justin Chambers) find out, they are going to have some pretty vitriolic reactions as well. I think that's part of what makes it interesting. The characters are flawed. They are really human.

And I'm not necessarily saying that George and Izzie are the love story of the century. People make mistakes. And perhaps this is a mistake. Perhaps it isn't. But I think it's an interesting thing to explore - that a best friend is your soul mate."

She has a point.

That Grey's Antomy has adventurously embraced personal flaws and mistakes is one of the traits that makes it so intriguing. How many shows, after all, have a put-upon title character who inspires so much love-her, hate-her buzz? But it's a tough act to consistently pull off.

If plot developments become too outrageous and/or annoying, it becomes much easier for us not to care. How much longer, for example, will fans put up with the George-Izzie melodrama? And more importantly, how many more Meredith and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) breakups can we take?

The cast departures also are cause for concern. Washington's complex genius Dr. Burke was a fascinating character and proved to be the perfect yin to Ms. Yang. As for Walsh's Addison Montgomery, she arrived on the scene as a bit player who you wanted to detest.

But she deepened into a strong, classy, engaging woman, a welcome respite from the intern drama queens. Both were key components.

Maybe Chyler Leigh, who joins the Seattle Grace gang as Meredith's half-sister, Lexie, will make us forget Burke and /or Addison. Maybe not.

Either way, it will be interesting to see if Greys Anatomy can recapture the magic. When the show is at its best, it delicately blends sober drama and real emotion with unpredictable twists and breezy humor.

It's a potent brew that keeps us captivated and gets us talking.

"I take really seriously what the fans say. I kind of love that so many people feel this strongly about the show," Rhimes says. "What that means to me is that they are watching it and that they care about it and that they feel as emotionally connected to the characters as I do."


On an unrelated note, it is ironic that Isaiah Washington ended up in a show (Bionic Woman) pitted directly against Rhimes' new series, Private Practice. Washington isn't in tonight's pilot �" he will appear in five upcoming episodes �" but it will be interesting to see his return to television.

On Private Practice, Addison heads to L.A. to leave her McNightmares behind.

  • The good news? Wednesday's premiere improves considerably on last May's back door pilot / preview episode.
  • The bad news? It remains to be seen if this cast of all-stars (including Taye Diggs, Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman) can gel into an appealing ensemble.

Only one Grey's Anatomy character appears in this week's episode �" the chief (James Pickens Jr.), who reluctantly accepts Addison's resignation and watches her bolt Seattle. You can discuss the episode in our sister site's forum.

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


I want to know if Burke comes back...he seems to be the only one for christina..and Meredith's sister is just irritating wed rather not have her around.. i want Burke back!


Anna well said. by the way Meredith actually said I don´t want to die alone.


What was missing from Season 3 was the philosophy. Seasons 1 and 2 captured us with a certain philosophical content - Meredith's tearful, "I don't want my Mom to die alone" and Derek's "Meredith, I'm so sorry" when he saw Addison were simple lines that reflected profound human experience and emotion. The writing was good because there were themes, and behind the themes were explorations of what it is to be human. Happy or sad, light or contentious, the show won't regain momentum until the writers remember to look for the profound and deep, rather than the superficial and shocking. Then there will be no need to have everyone who hasn't slept together yet try it, or to have more squirming after-death scenes. We haven't seen enough of What is Commitment? What is Patience? What is Forgiveness? yet, so there's lots of room for more explorations that are both philosophical and dramatic. And, I hope Derek and Meredith grow up and work it out, and Izzie and Alex and George and Cristina find the mature confidence in their abilities as doctors that Derek and Meredith already have.


I totally agree with pink mist. this show is like a marriage...through the good times and bad I'll always be there. As for season three being bad?!? I didn't think so...I liked that it was dark but it was sad to have George's dad die, then Mer's mom and then Mer's step-mom. I did like the derek and mer fights just because it showed that their realtionship wasn't perfect and that it was the real thing. If everyting were to work out for them and if they were happy and getting along all of the time they'd be boring. If any of you guys watched E.R, look at Carol and Ross's relationship(just like mer and derek's but without the ex-wife)... they had a lot of problems and their timing was always off but in the end they got their happy ending. I see the same thing happening for Derek and Mer. Fan's just need to be patience.


Sabrina I agree. watching that slap was so painful even though i hardly like Meredith. actually a lot of moments in season 3 was painful. that said, i'm really looking forward to season 4


Season 3 sucked so bad for me. I hated that M/D were fighting all the time, hated seeing George's dad, and Ellis and Susan dying. Hated seeing Thatcher slap Meredith and then tell her she couldn't come to the funeral. It was just an awful awful season....




I wouldn't say I necessarily hated season three, but I definitly did not enjoy it as much as seasons one and two. I think Shonda did what any good writer would do though, if everything went perfectly there would be no reason to watch. If Meredith and Derek stayed together for good you might as well make it the series finale, no one would have a reason to watch anymore. Shonda is a smart lady, she doesn't do things to make viewers mad, she wants to make the payoff even better. Hopefully the payoff will be great. As for losing Dr. Burke and Addison, its terrible. I hope our show is not heading for the same fate as some other shows that lose main characters too soon. I don't know about the rest of you, but I quit watching ER after it became a revolving door of different doctors each season. Of course this show is stronger then ER, but I'm still worried a little. Watched the first episode of Private Practice tonight and it was alot better then I expected, I knew I would watch for Addison, but I actually enjoyed the other characters too. Good Luck Shonda on both shows, and please no more Izzie and George.


Season 3 had its good and bad. Not enough MerDer, but it did give me George and Izzie finally getting together, which I was thrilled about (the adultery part not so much though). I think if they can stop the constant breakup of Meredith and Derek and get George out of his marriage and in a legit relationship with Izzie without the lies and with much less angst, the show would do much better.


I loved season 3, and I love both Gizzie and MerDer. They just need to balance the drama with the fun more. Like Gizzie could be such a funny couple, we know they do comedy great. TR and Katie do angst amazingly, but they do funny very well too, same with Ellen and Patrick. So why not do a mix of drama and fun for both couples? I can guarantee it would make people much more happy.


Grey's Anatomy Quotes

There's a reason I said I'd be happy alone. It wasn't 'cause I thought I'd be happy alone. It was because I thought if I loved someone and then it fell apart, I might not make it. It's easier to be alone, because what if you learn that you need love and you don't have it? What if you like it and lean on it? What if you shape your life around it and then it falls apart? Can you even survive that kind of pain? Losing love is like organ damage. It's like dying. The only difference is death ends. This? It could go on forever.


Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)