Shonda Rhimes Previews Grey's Anatomy "Documentary"

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Painful memories of last season’s bloodbath still linger at Seattle Grace.

As we know and have seen in various sneak preview clips, a camera crew invades the hospital this week to film a documentary about the ongoing recovery efforts, and the entire episode is shown to us from the POV of the filmmakers, offering a voyeuristic vibe.

“You actually feel like you’re getting a behind-the-scenes look at our characters’ lives,” series creator Shonda Rhimes tells Entertainment Weekly. “You get to see our characters in a very different way, because we’re approaching them in a very different way.”

An Alex Karev Photograph

Alex's character development continues in this week's docu-episode.

Rhimes has long toyed with the notion of doing a docu-style installment, but it was co-executive producer Stacy McKee who wrote the episode and executed the plan.

“Stacy was obsessed with [ABC's docu-series] Boston Med,” notes Rhimes. “She came in one day after watching an episode and said, ‘I think I have it! I figured out how we can do our own version of that.’ We used the shooting as our jumping-off point.”

However, by ensuring story lines also move forward, Rhimes made sure this was no gimmick. Case in point: It’s during the hour that Alex figures out “what kind of surgeon he really wants to be,” reveals Rhimes. “It seems [pediatrics] is his thing.”

Other highlights coming our way in "These Arms of Mine" ...

  • Mandy Moore reprises her role of patient-turned-mercenary. “Her character is one of the Seattle Grace 13,” notes Rhimes. “She was forced to sort of be a doctor, too, so it felt important to bring her back and close that chapter.”
  • Through confessionals, we discover how truly unhinged Cristina has become, something that's been evident this fall. “She has a long journey [before her],” says Rhimes. “But when she gets a little bit better, she comes roaring back.”
  • Callie and Arizona make “a huge decision” that ushers them “into a new chapter.”
  • The episode echoes the season's themes of recovery and rebirth. Not closure.

“Closure is the wrong word for every last one of my characters,” she says. “I spent a lot of time really trying to get this right, speaking to grief counselors and reading the Columbine book and really thinking about this, and not wanting to minimize this."

"I don’t think there’s such a thing as closure. I think you move on and become a different person, and you’re changed, but I don’t think it’s ever really closed.”

What do you think? Does it sound gimmicky, or like an great idea?

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


Sam, I agree with you! Addison and Alex should get together!!!


We love Grey's Anatomy, but the docu episode was not good at all. The characters were not acting anything like themselves, the story line was too hard to follow. If all the episodes were like that we would have to quit watching. We didn't like Boston Med. We even watched a couple of episodes just to see if maybe it would be different. Summary - NO: Docu Episodes YES: Regular Greys Anatomy.


Addison and Alex were the hottest 'hook up' in the whole thing. I lovvved that episode after they kissed and Mer is talking about the her half sister Molly's baby and Alex thinks she is talking about him and Adsison, so funny. Dammit now I want them back together!


So....My question is.....when are Mark and Lexie getting back together???


If Mark & Addison never happen...Alex should definitely go for Addison. I'd love that.


@bekki me too!! Alex + Addison = HOTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!


I hope this means Alex is not happy Arizona is leaving since she pushed him for peds and has supported him. Hopefully while she is gone he grows to miss her and appreciates her when she gets back. I want this relationship to be like Mer/Der and Christina/Burke with respect to teaching.


Alex rocks in Peds! I hope he gets the happiness he deserves some day!


personally, I've always known alex would go to paediatrics...with his very short relationship with addison I thought he'd go to it to prove something to her, but then she left...but throughout that time that he was on peds you could tell it was for him -- not plastics like he have to give this one to addison though - it was because of her that he had to work in paeds in the first place.... I WANT ADDISON AND ALEX BACK TOGETHER!!!


Stacy was too .Great lol

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Grey's Anatomy Quotes

Amelia: I think I'm falling in love with Owen Hunt, and I'm really afraid that it's gonna destroy me.
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When we say things like "people don't change" it drives scientist crazy because change is literally the only constant in all of science. Energy. Matter. It's always changing, morphing, merging, growing, dying. It's the way people try not to change that's unnatural. The way we cling to what things were instead of letting things be what they are. The way we cling to old memories instead of forming new ones. The way we insist on believing despite every scientific indication that anything in this lifetime is permanent. Change is constant. How we experience change that's up to us. It can feel like death or it can feel like a second chance at life. If we open our fingers, loosen our grips, go with it, it can feel like pure adrenaline. Like at any moment we can have another chance at life. Like at any moment, we can be born all over again.