Season so far...
Well firstly this ‘so far’ review was written before last night’s episode 917. I chose not to post it, mostly because my negative feelings have only grown and perhaps now I’m losing proportion. Who needs to read my whiney moany complainy bitchin’ anyway? I have since been persuaded to put it out there, because these are valid concerns and quite frankly need to be voiced, if nothing else to release my pressure cooker. So here you go. Beware this is pre-917, which perhaps you’ve seen so hopefully by the time I get to read any comments I will have seen 917 too. And maybe there will be light.
I found this a difficult article to write in the same way as I have found the previous few episode reviews difficult to write. And it boils down to one sentence why really...I hate Grey’s Anatomy at the moment. There. I said it. Phew.
I don’t really hate it, you understand, because it’s my single favourite show. But when something you love is being kicked about, well, quite frankly I get angry.
After a brilliant start to Season 9 where drama, superb writing and quality characterization kept me enthralled week after week I find myself viewing the mid season round of episodes with dread, embarrassment for the cast and rage at Shonda and the mess she has made of my beloved show.
Harsh? No. It’s the truth.
Watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy at the moment is like watching a car crash happen in real time on the opposite side of the highway and knowing that the outcome will a. not be good and b. completely out of my control as I’m on the other side. Or should I say plane crash. How did it get to this?
The decimation of some real characters in favour of new fake ones:
I am all FOR an ensemble. If you’ve read my reviews in the past I have consistently defended the large cast and the subsequent low screen time to big stories because of it. I like that aspect of the show. It’s set in a hospital, which lends itself well to multiple characters and storylines constantly interacting, operating in parallel and going in all different directions. However this only works if the writers develop their strong characters, use existing back-story and (in the context that this is fiction) provide stories that the viewer believes in but at the same time push us out of our comfort zone.
Strong character no. 1: What has happened to Alex? Throughout the season so far he’s been almost universally ignored. For reasons which are not apparent to me the writers seem intent on providing an ‘off into the sunset’ romance rather than a meaty, rich character based story. I do not need to see all my favourite characters go off into that sunset. I just need to see great drama, well acted. What’s happened to his back story that could have been exploited? Instead we’ve been fed the fake, manufactured immature brother/sister storyline of Alex and intern Jo Wilson. Jackson Avery is made hospital head honcho, and finds himself in a love triangle and Alex gets to be drunk and play stupid with the intern. Let’s rewind the clock about 5 years. Didn’t we already see Alex the intern getting drunk on tequila in Mer’s house? You might say that this is how a character like Alex would act in real life. To which I would say “perhaps” but it provide s*** television. This farcical arc is compounded by the fact that Camilla Luddington is woefully miscast (and by the way what is it with the casting of non-Americans playing Americans for Alex’s love interest) and poorly written. She’s not Izzie 2.0. She’s Izzie 0.5. I was never a really big Izzie fan but so far not one woman paired with Alex comes close to what he needs post Izzie. There is a rule in story writing. It works for the written word and it works for film & TV. It goes like this “show me, don’t tell me”. For the season so far Jo tells us all about her life, everything we know about Jo has been told to us by her. We don’t get to experience it, we don’t see it, more profoundly we don’t get to DISCOVER it. Instead it’s narrated to us and the viewer is simply expected to believe it. But that’s not even the end of it...there is no chemistry between these actors. None. Maybe they like to joke around on set so the writers think – hey, they’re great together. But that’s not enough. I need to be able to root for them but there is no spark to hold on to. Alex is pulled back into immature intern behavior, Jo is a vague, shadow of a character, outshone by every single one of the other new interns and there is a void of any real substance.
Strong character no. 2: Does Sarah Drew still work on the show?
Cast your mind back to Season 6 finale double. Full of drama and character and everything that makes this show. Now remember the character April. She irritated some people but she also got under the viewers skin in those episodes, for example the moment she told Meredith that her best friend had died or the moment she babbled to the gunman about her family in a bit to make herself a person in his eyes, just so he wouldn’t kill her. Now fast forward to mid season 9. I don’t know about you but I don’t even recognize the April of today as being the same character as before. I don’t mean the evolution, which is there, I mean the depth. April dances on the periphery of this show constantly and it’s a waste of both a strong character and a very talented actress. Again we have Jackson Avery, played by the (bless him) quite bland one-sided Jessie Williams, soaking up the story from everyone else and we have April languishing in half character death mode as his lost love.
Crikey. Here’s an idea Shonda. Put April with Alex, then at least we will get a story.
Strong character no. 3: Did Arizona have her leg chopped off or is that another Grey’s illusion?
For a few episodes early season I saw the real depth of Arizona and then... nothing. Suddenly all her leg drama has disappeared as if she’s perfectly two footed again and she’s back to being sidelined. I think we’ve seen more kiddie patient stories this season than any other but instead of the brilliant partnership of Alex and Arizona the former is pretending to be booze buddies with the intern over sick kids and the latter is...well no where really. She’s the fifth wheel in the lawsuit. I am barely aware that she is someone’s wife. And of all people Jackson is giving her ‘tude as if he’s suddenly a plastics god. Hang on, who died and made him god. Oh yeah. Mark did. The writers forgot long ago about the best version of Arizona for our screens. She kinda died around episode 702. Instead we’re heading back to bubbly bland. What a shame.
The sacrifice of brilliant storyline potential for soap suds and legal blah.
I completely get the temptation in a show in it’s 9th season to start thinking out of the box for stories. I understand that ratings are the most important element that keeps a show on air. Drama begets ratings. Well, actually well acted, characterized and believable (again in context that this is fiction) drama begets ratings. Oh, and apparently more of Jackson Avery. But what seems to have been forgotten this season is that we tune in for a medical drama about relationships, sex and scalpels.
Okay, there is a lot of sex mid season for some. Not Alex, cause he’s ...well I’m not quite sure how he’s coping without it at the moment. Not April because she’s now a lying born again virgin (really? Would April lie? To Jesus?). Not Arizona or Callie because presumably it’s not interesting enough for us to see how they get their intimacy back. But Jackson’s getting some of course. Oh and Cristina and Owen but more about them later.
Grey’s Anatomy Turns Soap Opera. There are so many things wrong with the lawsuit story line that it’s painful to even talk about it.
Cast your mind back to “Love the one you’re with” 903 and this dialogue...
Callie: “Mistakes happen Derek, accidents happen, we make mistakes that can cost lives too”
Derek: “Yes, we do, but when we do we have M&M’s, we pour over the files, we make sure it never happens again, and we try to make sure future patients never have to go through that grief. I have to sleep with the lights on every night because the darkness is too much. We just can’t stand by and watch this happen to other people’s Lexies and Marks. We have to do something about it. We have to make this right....Callie, what are you thinking...”
The lawyer keeps interrupting.
Callie: “You’re not one of us, you don’t know, you have no idea what we’ve been through. Derek’s right, we shouldn’t take the money. We can’t take it”
Then what happened, they sue the hand that feeds them which seems to have nothing to do with making something wrong, right (as Derek espoused) and chaos ensued. Not only that but in what court in what land would the money just be handed over. No appeal, no criminal charges, no come back for the aircraft company at all. Is the wrong that Derek wanted to right ensuring that Owen looks at his paperwork before he signs contracts? Because that’s the only wrong that’s been challenged. And Owen still has a job (though I’m quite sure he won’t make that mistake again).
And who is CRIMINALLY negligent for the preventable deaths of two doctors and why hasn’t there been ANY storyline about that.
And then the one pushing hard to ‘save’ the hand that fed them is the one person who didn’t actually get any money. Callie. Bullying your wife into giving up your money or the money belonging to your child is not a heartwarming conclusion to this story.
Several doctors were involved in a plane crash with death and serious injury. And the resultant conclusion is...Jackson is in charge. Who saw that coming during the episode when Jackson is the Gunther?
Now I know, you all think I hate Jackson. I don’t hate him. He’s rather too dull and lifeless to hate. I just think the writers or Shonda are flogging a wet character too hard. Jackson in the position of running the hospital is something I’m rather ambivalent about. I don’t care enough about him to want him to succeed. But I don’t hate him enough to want him to fail. It’s just a rather stupid storyline coated in soap suds. He’s barely qualified as a fully fledged doctor, indeed he hasn’t even finished his fellowship and he’s been given a hospital to run by his mother. Well first of all, she clearly doesn’t know him very well, secondly she obviously feels that hospital administration is more important than getting actual doctoring experience under his belt and thirdly I prefer to see Derek, Cristina, Meredith, Callie, Arizona, Alex, April, Richard, Bailey sparkle in the OR over Jackson so if he’s not there, if he’s pen pushing and ‘administrating’ then great. I’m all for it. But let’s be very clear. It’s not credible. He will succeed because Shonda loves him and will want him to. I suspect he’ll be quite good, then at the end of the season come to some nice neat cosy conclusion that he wants to be doctoring not administrating. He’ll have a drink in a bar with his mom and she’ll be all “sweetheart, honey, okay” about it and Jackson will be the hero. Shonda won’t let him fail. Unfortunately for the drama.
Missed opportunity 1: Grief. Is anyone else missing Mark as much as I am? Because Callie isn’t. How brilliant and angsty and heartbreaking would the season be if Shonda had allowed Callie to grieve in front of us. Instead she put it in a nice neat box, showed us precisely 36 seconds of Callie missing Mark and now we move on. How BRILLIANT would it have been to see Arizona and Callie conclude their Mark story with some dialogue around how she talked to him in the woods, how they bonded trying to survive or how much Callie is grieving for her best friend. Do you remember that they were best friends even? And has Derek even noticed that Mark’s gone. I hate to say it but the one character who seems to have missed him the most is Jackson, plastics posse’s surviving half. Now you might say, but we saw Meredith grieve for Lexie didn’t we? Well not really. The only conclusion I come to about this lack of storyline is that the writers are short on ‘grief’ experience. I would never wish it on anyone, because I’ve been there, but sometimes in order to show us the writers need to know it themselves. And I don’t think they do.
Missed opportunity 2: Backstory. I’ll be brief because I’ve said it all. Arizona, Alex and April (hmmm. All the A’s) all have unexplored backstory. Wasted.
Missed opportunity 3: Bailey. Shonda has committed two crimes against Grey’s Anatomy. Firstly she’s put Bailey in the sidelines for too long now. And secondly she put Jackson in charge of Bailey. Now, I can maybe possibly tolerate Jackson in charge of the lawsuit five or Alex, or April. Even Webber, because ultimately Webber trumps Jackson by virtue of bedding his mother. But Jackson in charge of Bailey. Shame on Shonda. That is every flavour of wrong.
Now...it’s not all bad really. No really it’s not. I’m p***** off about this mid season stuff but early season was excellent. And even in mid season there are some gems. But there aren’t many. This won’t take long.
I had little hope for Cristina and Owen as the season began. I honestly thought that their solution would be a patched up compromise (it still could be) but it seems that as the season has passed this storyline is perhaps the most honest and the most real. I have no idea where they will end up. I suspect that Shonda is kicking herself that she’s already used the ‘long lost child’ story in Private Practice because a good way out of her dilemma would be to provide Owen with a ready made child from a previous relationship. How neat and tidy would that be? In the meantime the development of his relationship with Cristina, the divorce, the post divorce sex, the love over-flowing from them both now they are free from marital bonds, the understanding between them of the difficulty in their relationship, that they want different things and the recognition of the futility of their situation but they carry on anyway...it all works. As a viewer I can tap into both their pain and their passion. The writers are not rushing this and I like it. They are magnets drawn to each other. On top of that they have provided a strong (if unbelievable) storyline for Owen. This helps to create an illusion of time passing between him and Cristina. I have more faith in this story than previously and I’m enjoying how it’s panning out.
Who could not be happy that Meredith is pregnant? I am very happy. The woman deserves a normal life, kids, husband, big house, even hideous working hours...no bombs in stomachs to hold on to, no drowning, no gunmen pointing to her head, no plane crashes. Just a normal pregnancy and a happy family. I celebrate that. Though this show is all about the drama it’s good that Meredith gets to have some drama free ...um drama. It’s enough that she’s been coerced into spending her fifteen million on a hospital that’s now being run by a child...but enough of that.
Besides Jo I haven’t said anything about the interns. Actually I like the fact that the new Attendings have things (interns) to play with. And I like Mousy and Leah, they’re both quite quirky. Do they deserve to be here in season 10. Those two do, but not at the expense of April, Bailey and Arizona’s story. The rest, no.
To finish this epic b**** of a download I will add one more thing. Now more than ever before I miss Mark. My heart aches that he is dead and ED is not in the show. And that, perhaps, is why I am struggling with how this season is evolving. Grief. It’s a powerful thing.
Off to watch 917 now. Did they make it all better?
Grey's Anatomy - Season 9 So Far ...kind of ...Review
Friday, March 15, 2013
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