But by the end of its premiere, it miraculously came back to life, writes the New York Daily News - and even without the aid of a tall, handsome, mysterious script doctor.
The first of what could be several spinoffs from the hit Grey's Anatomy sends Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery, played by Kate Walsh, down the West Soast from Seattle to beachfront L.A. There she joins a Private Practice that, at first, seems like it should be called Neurosis Cliche Central.
Addison was specifically hired by her medical school friend Naomi Bennett (Audra McDonald). When we meet Naomi, she is sitting on the floor of her bathroom, crying and eating an entire cake.
Violet Turner (Amy Brenneman) is a shrink who stalks her ex-boyfriend. Pete Wilder (Tim Daly) plays a cocky alternative medicine specialist who may be Addison's next fling. That's not necessarily a position with job security.For those of you keeping score, Addison endured an ugly divorce from McDreamy, then couldn't make it work with McSteamy... or Alex Karev.
In any case, our first encounter with the Oceanside Wellness Group plays more like sitcom, and even then it's not as silly as Addison's first scene in L.A.
She takes a shower and then dances naked around her apartment - discreetly naked for purposes of the camera, but not discreetly enough so she doesn't flash the guy in the next apartment - who turns out to be another of her new partners, Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs), recently divorced from Naomi.
At this point, the show is looking like Ally McBeal meets Melrose Place, a hybrid for which no one put in a request.
But the opening scene also could be an elaborate inside joke, reflecting Kate Walsh's nerves about leaving a hit show for something new and untested.
Whatever the motivation, the show soon pulls itself together, hitting the familiar groove of interweaving medical crises with dramas among the docs.
Even better, the show quickly shifts focus from the sitcom quirks to the more nuanced personal and professional sides of its characters.
If it can stay up there, it can do what Grey's Anatomy has done very well, making unremarkable sex jokes and familiar neuroses into quasi-parody while spinning other, fresher tales that are engaging enough to watch.
In closing, the prognosis for Private Practice: good.