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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.

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Kathy you SERIOULY ROCK. Well said.

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I truly think GA will recapture the Magic this season. From what Shonda has been telling everyone about things being more FUN and the cast is having such a goodtime and glad to be back at work ...so it seems that everything is back on track! I think even though Shonda felt that the "dark and twisty" season three had to happen...I think Shonda also realizes that it is very important to bring the FUN back into this season because it not only brought the characters down (along with the other stuff that went on) it brought the viewers/fans down as well! And because GA is such a Hit show and is talked about so much anyway....I think after the last half of season 3 left everybody wanting so bad to get back to the way it use to be..(like season 1 and 2) . I have NEVER been this way over a tv show before and I know it is just tv...but, I was and am so into this show and its characters! I was so depressed after season 3! So, I know that I am ready for things to change in a good way too! I think that everybody is SO excited about the season to start back and finally see what we have missed not only during the summer months but the last half of season 3. We want our characters to be funny and happy again...yeah there will be drama..but thats ok. Just keep it light and fun and it seems as if that is what is happening according to PD and others have said in their interviews.! So, with all of that said, I for ONE am so excited for Season 4 to start so everybody can start talking about GA again in a good way!

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No matter what happens I will still watch and love the show... Grey's Anatomy is like being married..through the good and the bad I will always watch.

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I am so looking forward to this season, i hope shonda is serious when she says it will be more lighthearted than last season, dont get me wron, i loved season 3. i dont know what is wrong with people who say they hated it. sure it was all dark and twisty so what, its still greys so its still amazing

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I totally agree! I loved season 3. All of these critics do not know what they are talking about! I love O'mizzie and MerDer! I have faith that Shonda knows what she is doing. I am definately looking forward to season 4.

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Season 3 had its problems, but it had great moments too and for me, George and Izzie becoming a couple was the highlight of the season. I thought their love scene was sweet, beautiful and tender and so did the people I watched the scene with.

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Same old tired sh*t by the critics, they all sound exactly the same. Not everyone hated last season. I meet a lot of people offline who loved the dark twist of season 3. And why did they post that 2-months old interview Shonda did about Gizzie? Old news much. I love how they always make it seem like ervyone hates them while, from what I am seeing on the Net and from all the people offline who I know love them, it seems more like 50-50 to me. Them not liking the couple does not mean noone does, but maybe they feel if they repeat it enough, Shonda will believe it and drop the couple. This is getting so tiresome and predictable.

Grey's Anatomy Quotes

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)

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.

Meredith
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