The popular Grey's Anatomy spin-off Private Practice returns for a second season. This time around, Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) takes the spotlight. After leaving Seattle Grace Hospital in the first season to further her career, Addison joined a chic private practice with some friends from med school in Los Angeles. After getting settled into her new life, Addison's adventures in both medicine and relationships are just getting started. Much like in Grey's, Addison and her friends are forced to deal with medical and ethical issues each day while juggling their families, friends, and relationships.
The first half of season two deals with the practice's financial troubles. Naomi (Audra McDonald) reveals to Addison that they are in danger of losing the practice due to unpaid debt. Ultimately, the resolution of this issue makes Addison the practice's new boss, giving her character a much needed leadership role. Once things seem to be back on track, the real drama begins. The doctors must deal with ethical issues ranging from abortion to the re-assigning of an infant's sex. It doesn't help that there's a new practice in town run by Charlotte (KaDee Strickland), who is having a serious romantic drama with Cooper (Paul Adelstein) that takes up much of the season. And that's just for starters… all of the other characters fight to maintain balance in their lives, but manage to constantly tangle work with romance.
Season two of Private Practice even included a pair of cross-over specials with sister show, Grey's Anatomy. In these specials, Addison rushes Archer (Grant Show) to Seattle Grace in order to save his life. As expected, this forces her to cross paths with old friends from Grey's, specifically Derek (Patrick Dempsey), Mark (Eric Dane), and Izzie (Katherine Heigl ). These specials come to amazing and dramatic crossfire between old friends that escalates into great (though somewhat unbelievable) television drama. I really enjoyed seeing all of these characters back on camera together with the addition of Addison's Private Practice buddies, it added a great dynamic, but at times felt a little crowded.
Season two of Private Practice is considerably better than the first season. During the first season it really felt like the writers were trying to figure out how to make the Grey's characters stand on their own with accompaniment from new characters. However, in the previous season Addison felt like she had regressed since her time on Grey's from a confident, intelligent doctor to something of a confused girl moving into a house with her best gal friends. Thankfully, Addison, and the show in general, got more focused in the second season. Addison is back to her awesome self, and both the characters and the show itself have gotten a clearer understanding of what the show is and how the plot lines and characters work together.
This DVD set includes all 22 episodes of season two of Private Practice on six discs. The bonus features are not as extensive as I was hoping, but they are still very satisfying. The features include a recap of season one, special extended episodes, deleted scenes, bloopers, a featurette looking at the plot arcs of season two, and a featurette on Chris Lowell. I suppose I was hoping for some more interviews with cast and crew — even the writers if possible — discussing the challenges of creating a complementary hit to Grey's Anatomy.
I was most surprised that this set didn't include the cross-over specials with Grey's Anatomy. While they are alluded to, it makes it feel like there is a small chunk of the story missing. Plus, it would have been great to have these specials included on the DVD since they are part of the story. Perhaps this is because the cross-overs were not included in the original order of 22 episodes for the season or because ABC plans to release the crossover specials as a separate DVD? To my understanding, these specials will not be included with the season five DVD set of Grey's Anatomy — so where are they?
Private Practice seems to be gaining steam with each season, and hopefully the writers will be able to expand the show even more with the upcoming third season. While it will never be as popular or as enjoyable as Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice is the perfect companion to Grey's and a great medical drama that's learning to stand on its own and will eventually not stand in the shadow of Grey's.