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Television Review: Grey’s Anatomy

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PM Rating System Grade: B+ | Genre: Drama
Summary: Grey’s Anatomy has tremendous potential to become one of the hot new shows this season. It has that smart, hungry feel of a fresh, potent series that ER misplaced long ago.

Starring: Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, James Pickens Jr., T.R. Knight, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl & Isaiah Washington

Network: ABC

Programming: Sunday 10-11 ET

Grey's AnatomyI think we may have something worth sinking into the couch on Sunday night. Grey’s Anatomy is a smart, new drama following a group of surgical interns as they swim out of their small med school pond into the shark-infested waters that await them at Seattle Grace Hospital. The show’s focus rests on Meredith Grey played by Ellen Pompeo (Old School, Moonlight Mile). She is an intern who comes from impeccable medical pedigree.

She walks into her first day meeting the other sheepish interns and her attending physician, a half-pint appropriately referred to as “the Nazi”. The tone is set when they announce that before its over 8 of them would switch to an easier discipline, 5 would crack under the pressure and 2 would leave of their own devices. They quickly survey their fellow interns to guess who would beat the odds and to wonder if one of those numbers would fall on them. The show’s pace is mock 3 similar to ER yet with a much higher confusion quotient. Life and death situations keep taping on their uncertain shoulders as their hearts jump, desperately wanting to prove themselves, but unsure if they have what it takes to avoid failure. Failing at this level means their patient doesn’t see tomorrow. The competition is intense as they jockey to make a place for themselves in this crowded field.

We see our first notice of sexual tension as Meredith is forced to consult with attending surgeon Dr. Derek Shepard, played by Patrick Dempsey (Can’t Buy Me Love, Loverboy), concerning her seizure patient. She only finds out at the point of no return that the attending is the same guy she had a one night stand with the evening before and only finished booting him out of her place a few hours prior. He is quite smitten with her, yet she keeps him at arms length in the name of professionalism. When she scores a key surgery over a fellow intern (Sandra Oh), harsh words rain down accusing her of sleeping her way into it. It’s cutthroat and emotions are balanced on a hulking cliff at Seattle Grace Hospital.

Grey's AnatomyGrey’s Anatomy is very clever in its execution and adds a lot of elements to make this thick with reality. When one of their fellow interns gets to scrub in to assist at the coveted appendectomy, they all place bets on how far he would make it before inevitably choking. Afterwards, they all refer to him in whispers as 007, meaning that he has a license to kill. There is another scene where a couple interns sit outside the hospital after an exhausting shift, propped up against the wall like limp Raggedy-Ann dolls. They speculate on other professions, easier professions, they could have pursued instead, but its crystal clear that each of them realizes that nothing would have completed their lives like fulfilling this dream of becoming a surgeon. Its light brush strokes like these that really makes this show standout from the other dramas crowding the airwaves.

Call me strange, but one of the major sticking points I look for with new shows is the music featured behind the vignettes. If the show can duck the impulse to lazily tape top 40 to our foreheads and instead go out on a limb by featuring a few new bands, then I can overlook a lot of other weaknesses it might have. Grey’s Anatomy sets the perfect tone, giving us strong selections from such cutting edge artists like Jem, Butterfly Boucher, Rilo Kiley and Thirteen Senses. I hadn’t even heard of the Coldplay-esque Thirteen Senses prior to viewing the pilot so the producers get major kudos for including this one.

Grey’s Anatomy has tremendous potential to become one of the hot new shows this season. If Scrubs were a serious drama, it would be called Grey’s Anatomy. It has that smart, hungry feel of a fresh, potent series that ER misplaced long ago. The actors involved are very talented and the script constructing the pilot was extremely well crafted. It’s hard to tell from one episode if a new series has the traction to really make a run for it, but Grey’s Anatomy looks extremely promising. Following the savvy, hit drama Desperate Housewives, ABC is grooming Grey’s Anatomy for great things. Will it catch fire with audiences or get smoked out? I’m stocking up on marshmallows, hoping for a bon-fire.

Check your local listings for Grey’s Anatomy on ABC, Sunday evenings at 10 ET. For more critiques by this reviewer, please visit PM Media Review.

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About Mark Runyon

  • Except it’s only scheduled for four weeks before Boston Legal returns. Which means it will need a new time slot.

  • The main problem I had with this show is that the acttess who played Grey was so unengaging that it weakened the whole show. Kathering Heigl and Sandra Oh came off as so much more dynamic and interesting that they sort of dominated the ensemble cast. I bet when it comes back it will be reformulated and renamed with more emphasis on the ensemble and a new name.


  • Sandra Oh I agree with you on but Katherine Heigl? She was a pretty one dimensional character in the pilot and I think her character needed retuning going forward. Ellen Pompello (Meredith Grey) is a good actress judging from her past film work, and I thought her character was quite engaging. She and Patrick Dempsey are the two that have me really engaged in this story to this point. Regardless we need to see more of this story/these characters to really tell how good this can be.

    Thanks for the heads up on Boston Legal. I wasn’t aware this was a temporary time slot.

  • I thought the first ep was decent, but I will need to see a few more to decide if it stays on the viewing list. No argument that the potential is there.

  • TylerNewton

    Except it’s only scheduled for four weeks before Boston Legal returns. Which means it will need a new time slot.”

    WHAT???? I thought BL was only on a 2 week hiatus.


    I hate that ABC is trying to dump BL. This is ridiculous. I hope Grey’s fails (as I suspect it will, this sunday will be the true test: will all the people who gave it a chance last sunday still watch?), because I’d hate to see BL moved to another timeslot (Remember when they moved The Practice to Mondays? It KILLED the show)

    Thanks a lot ABC for your lack of support in Boston Legal.

  • I’m not a fan of BL or Practice, but I feel for you, I definitely know what it’s like to see a network, or cable station, screw with a favored show. I’ve had a lot of shows messed with over the years.

  • Mark, this post has been syndicated at the Advance.net network of sites, including the Cleveland.com TV weblog.

    I TiVo’d the premiere but haven’t watched it yet, though I’ve got to say this review definately has me psyched.

  • Hey now. No need to cheer the failing of Grey’s. There is more than enough room in the television universe so Boston Legal and Grey’s Anatomy can co-exist. With all the crappy television out there, it is nice to have another smart drama to turn to regardless of what night it ends up on.

    As far as Boston Legal, you hung with it after they fleeced the original cast? I just couldn’t watch it anymore after they did that. It’s like they sucked the soul out of the show.

  • TylerNewton

    “I’m not a fan of BL or Practice, but I feel for you, I definitely know what it’s like to see a network, or cable station, screw with a favored show. I’ve had a lot of shows messed with over the years.”

    ABC just has its panties all bunched up because BL can’t hold as many DH viewers as they would like. ABC doesn’t seem to take into account that many people turn off the TV at 10pm.

    Before the current hiatus, BL had consistently WON the Sunday 10pm timeslot, beating Crossing Jordan to a bloody pulp.

    And THIS is the thanks they get???

  • TylerNewton

    “As far as Boston Legal, you hung with it after they fleeced the original cast? I just couldn’t watch it anymore after they did that. It’s like they sucked the soul out of the show.”

    Boston Legal is only one of TWO shows centered around legal/courtroom drama ONLY (the other is L&O: trial By jury), and BL is the ONLY one that deals with a large law firm.

    Of course I stick with Boston Legal. Where else can I get my legal/courtroom drama fix WITHOUT succombing to an L&O show? Keep in mind that org L&O is 30 min law enforcement/30 min legal, and that other shows like SVU and CI are more law enforcement.

    BL still has good, gutwrenching, LEGAL COURTROOM DRAMA.

    We already have medical shows, like House M.D., E.R., and the soon to be canned Medical Investigation, not to mention the comedy Scrubs.

    We NEED Boston Legal for our fix of legal/courtroom drama which NO L&O show adequately provides (plus all of their cases are criminal, mostly murder).

  • Just because it’s the only show on doesn’t necessarily mean its good. I think Boston Legal needs some competition in the legal space to see if it can hold its own. I agree that the 400 different Law & Order’s don’t provide anything more than bite-sized law portions.

    Also, just because there are tons of medical shows on doesn’t mean they are good. Scrubs is the only one of that list that is watchable and it is of course a comedy. There really isn’t a compelling medical drama anymore, which is a void Grey’s is filing nicely.

    Grey’s added another 2 million viewers after its stellar opening week so thankfully I think this one is here to stay.

  • smock7

    Grey’s Anatomy

    I am 28 years old, To be more specific and to speak in terms I we can all identify with, I am Generation X. For many years, it was hard to find television that spoke to my generation. It was either that mass-merchandised Weather channel crap those baby boomers watch, or that Limp Bizkit Buffy crap Generation Y watches. For that reason, I think Grey’s Anatomy is awesome. You know why? All the music on the show is for me. It is smart, independent, and intellectual modern music, a lot like my generation.

    Oh wait, I forgot. I am white, too. That is probably another reason why I think this show is so good. The music is so white. All of these indie bands brood about the state of the world in drifty melodies, and it is hard to find that on the radio (down with Clearchannel!). Grey’s Anatomy is leading the revolution of social change.

    I know, I am a Generation X white dude. I am supposed to like hip hop and other forms of African-American music. Honestly, I do but just because I have to. I only listen to it when I am with other white people. We often discuss its importance. However, I never listen to it on my own. I don’t understand it.

    Remember all of that crap Generation X used to get, because all the baby boomers said we were lazy and we knew nothing of struggle? We were slackers, they said. Well, assholes, the characters in Grey’s Anatomy are all medical interns. They are going to be doctors (if they pass – that is one of the show’s main conflicts). I don’t exactly call a doctor being a slouch. I call that pretty type A. So screw those theories that we were all going to grow up to be bums. We are an awesome generation.

    The Chinese-American girl in Grey’s Anatomy was in last year’s indie film, Sideways. Patrick Dempsey is a main character. The last time I saw Patrick Dempsey he was delivering an extra anchovy pizza to Kirstie Alley in Loverboy. Taking cues from two significant periods in Generation X history (present day indie, and the 1980’s pop) – what is that? Post-modern casting? Pure genius. I am sure whoever the Generation X mastermind behind all of this is shops at the best thrift stores. I bet they read Flaunt, too.

    As far as the story line goes, I am not really sure. Being a doctor looks awfully tough, and nothing ever goes right. These Gen Xers can’t seem to catch a break, and nobody takes them seriously. Their African-American bosses are extremely hard on them, but I think in the end everyone wants to save lives. Above all, the music from the show is really independent, therefore really good. If you were born in the years from 1970-1978, and you are white, then I highly recommend this show, and when it comes out, the soundtrack.

  • Richard Porter

    I have to disagree with anyone who enjoys this horrible show. How many times and different ways are the characters going to say how badly they have it

    …or how hard their job is
    …or question outloud if anyojne knows what they are doing
    …or portray so poorly the friction between the interns and attendees.

    This show does not inspire any sort of intellegence or depth by continually spelling everything out to the audience.

    The only saving grace is Patrick Dempsey and he should leave quickly. Maybe he can go to ER and help save that dying show.

  • RIchard Porter

    Not to mention that the Grey character is not even the strongest or most interesting character.

    Now it is interesting that you have the Scrubs DVD on this post. This show is very funny and offers some dramedy from time to time. This is the most underrated show on the air.

  • Well said smock7. I think there is a lot more to Grey’s Anatomy than we see on the surface. The music is very savvy and can stand up to anything on television currently. The talent is genuine and compelling. Now that we are starting to finally advance out of that setup stage of a new show, we can see the stories really take hold. Interesting thoughts on how the Grey’s characters fit into the larger generational picture

    Richard, I agree with you that Scrubs is the most underrated show on television, but I think you’re off base on Grey’s. A horrible show? Come on. There are truly horrible shows out there, and Grey’s doesn’t even come close to being associated with that trash. As far as spelling things out, that is fairly inherent in any show. You’ve got a couple shows to get this off the ground quickly and catch the interest of the fickle viewer. Unfortunately, you don’t have the luxury of really digging deep in that first handful of episodes. You can’t really assess that until mid-season. Really what network TV show does dig deep? You pretty much have to go to cable dramas to find anything deep and probing (Six Feet Under or Nip/Tuck)?

    As far as the title goes, I do think it puts unfair emphasis on the Grey character. Though she gets the most attention, it’s pretty well spread around between the characters, and I think the shows producers just wanted to take advantage of the clever name. As for the strongest character/actors, I have to go with both Dempsey and Pompeo. There is more than enough talent here to go around.

  • Richard Porter

    You want a show with depth and characters?
    How about Lost?
    This show has an incredibly detailed layout with strong characters strategically interwoven and tremendous acting.

  • How about Deadwood, or Carnivale?

  • Richard Porter

    I have heard great things about Deadwood though I have never seen it? Carnivale I am a little disappointed in.

    Richard Porter

    Check out my latest post:
    When (Michael) Moore’s Impact on the 2004 election was LESS…

  • What’s the deal with the Michael Moore post?

    I haven’t checked out Lost yet so unfortunately I can’t comment though I do hear good things. I guess I’ll have to catch it when it hits DVD. So that’s it one show? Like I said the major networks are a desert. Stick with cable if you are looking for well written compelling drama with strong actors. With the networks, we have to take what we can get. When considerng at your choices, Grey’s looks better by the minute.

    Here are some more thoughts on the state of network television today.

  • Richard Porter

    Lost has to be watched in the order the shows were first presented to understand everything and seeing certain clues. This show invites alotof conversation around the water cooler.

  • jd luce

    Oh puleeze. Any show that has a men’s room door with a push plate to exit when the door ONLY opens inward shows a lack of details. i’d say my ‘beads’ if I were admitted to this hospital!

    JD Luce
    North Carolina

  • anonymous

    I think you are all dum and Grey’s Anatomy is the best show ever. Boston Legal is the dummest show ever!! I hope it fails and Grey’s Anatomy won’t! Believe me and it’s dum that they only have it on for what, 6 weeks they had it on for. It’s dum they should have it on this summer and then next fall! IF YOU so called PEOPLE have a problem with the show then you should just change the channel because it won’t fail! It’s the best show ever did you not read the review! you are all dum except for the one that said good comments!

  • anonymous

    Ellen Pompeo is a great actress also! You are all crazy soo called people who couldn’t tell your brain from your ass!

  • Marissa

    What was the deal with that Smock7 guy emphasizing his race so much? No one cares that you’re white. Get over yourself and get a grip on the music that you’re “supposed” to listen to as a white generation x-er.

  • Caroline

    Sandra Oh is Korean-American, white boy.

  • aka

    I think that Greys Anatomy is the best show ever!!! The drama just keeps getting better and better every week. I love the mystery between Derek and Grey, Christina and Burke, Izzie and Alex and poor O’Malley. I guess you just have to love the medical rush to relly enjoy thie show but for those of you who do not like it NEED TO WAKE UP AND REALIZE!!!!!!

  • Misty

    I think Grey’s Anatomy is one of the best shows out there right now. The characters are extremely engaging and I love O’Malley’s character. He is the underdog of the show. They couldn’t have picked a better cast. I hope this show comes to be one of the greats and is on for years to come. For the people who don’t like the show, just change the channel. If you don’t like it why waste your time complaining about it and find something else to watch. Bottom line….great cast, great plot, great show!!!!

  • Doesnt matter

    To Richard Porter
    considering you probably havent watched this show since last year when it first came out says nothing. maybe you should try watching it again now when the action is really starting.

  • S. Surgeon

    While jumping around the web, I accidentally came across this site, and read a bit of the comments. Someone mentioned that Grey’s does not inspire any sort of “intellegence”. I don’t know what that word means. But, if they are referring to intelligence, who cares? It is a television series, not a documentary. It is entertaining. If you don’t like it, switch channels, or read a book. The dictionary might be a good choice.

  • Tori Powers

    Grey’s Anatomy is the BEST show ever!!!!