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TV on DVD: Get your Rx for medical soap on Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice

In television on 09/15/2009 at 12:18 am

Shonda Rhimes has two TV series with season releases new on DVD this week. Private Practice is the newer and the less famous of the two, the first being Grey’s Anatomy. Overall, Season 2 of Private Practice was weaker than the first season, which followed Addison (red-headed Kate Walsh) from Grey’s Seattle Grace Hospital to a private clinic in California run by formerly married friends (Taye Diggs and Audra McDonald). A weak season because although it was adequately sudsy for a medical soap, it was casting about wildly for reasons to keep its characters overly involved in each other’s lives. The financial crisis at the clinic is an example. With as much chemistry as this cast has, there was no need to go so crazy with artificial plot boosters. Of the things they did very well: 1. twisted and turned and twisted again the romantic tension between best friends Violet (Amy Brenneman) and Coop (Paul Adelstein); 2. torqued the medical dilemma of the week (a decision that is discussed with great animation in one of the featurettes on Disc 6); and, best of all, orchestrated a crazy, thrilling finale. I won’t spill the beans in case you want the thrill yourself (no hurry, Season 3 doesn’t start until Oct. 1, on ABC), but will Coop come through? Warning: The last few minutes are quite grisly. I needed a swallow of Pepto.

I’ve already mentioned one of the extras on this six-disc DVD set. Another is thoroughly unexpected and lovely. DVD extras, as you might already know, are often a wasteland of actors blabbing away in scene commentaries revealing that they really do need a script to be entertaining. A bit harsh, but painfully true. Instead, wouldn’t it be fun to learn something interesting about one of the actors? Yes it would and thanks Private Practice DVD makers for thinking of it. Chris Lowell, who plays Dell, the ambitious receptionist and youngest piece of man candy on the show, is also quite the photographer. Life Through the Lens: The Pictures of Chris Lowell is a look at some of this black and white photos, taken on the set and around the world, some in jest and some in great earnestness. Lovely work. Lowell is interviewed, as are his adoring castmates, and they all get a little giddy, but it’s mostly sweet and sometimes downright funny. The capper is when Lowell looks directly in the camera and says, “To the 17 people who got lost someone in the DVD features on this disc, I really appreciate you watching.” But wait! There’s more! This featurette features music by Adelstein “from the Doris album, Between You and Me.” You might also, as I did, enjoy the bloopers. The series might have fallen a little off the track midway through Season 2, but there’s still enough mojo with this cast to keep me coming back for my regular dose of medical soap. Go ahead, judge me.

Hang on though. I say I like, even crave, medical soap operas, but I judge Grey’s Anatomy as too much? Yes, I am a mystery. Try to keep up. But seriously, Season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy is too soapy for soap! George? Buh-bye. T.R. Knight’s character has been drifting aimlessly for two seasons. Meredith’s sister Lexie? Grow a spine for pity sake. Denny? Buuuuuuh-bye. The less said the better when it comes to the ridiculous storyline about Izzie-and-Ghost-Denny-reuniting-but-it’s-really-a-brain-tumour. Izzy? Meh. The end of the season leaves it open whether she recovers from her brain-tumour surgery. Katherine Heigl has since signed on for a sixth season, but last week, People reported that Heigl has been given a leave of absence because she and husband Josh Kelly are adopting a Korean girl (as Heigl’s sister did).  As for Derek and Meredith? I’ve lost track. Do I want them to marry? Or to marry other people? Does it matter? Thank goodness Sara Ramirez’s Torres and Eric Dane’s McSteamy have such a great comic groove. And let’s also hear it for the struggling romance between Sandra Oh’s Yang and Kevin McKidd’s Hunt. I barely care enough to give this show another chance, but I’ll be rooting forr them when I tune in for the Season 6 launch on Sept. 24, from 9-11 p.m. ET on ABC and CTV.

As for the DVD set itself, the extras are kinda flat. The making-of the 100th episode bored me even after I started ignoring it to sort my coasters. The bloopers got a couple of barking laughs out of me, though. But there’s no telling you, is there. If you’ve read this far you’re a Grey’s goner and you’ll buy it/rent it anyway.

And here are a few other new releases of TV on DVD.
The Big Bang Theory: Season 2
Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season 2
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Season 4
Bonanaza: Official First Season
My Name Is Earl: Season 4
Route 66: Season 3, Vol. 1
Dark Shadows: The Vampire Curse
Fraggle Rock: The Complete Third Season
Miami Ink: Season 1
CSI Miami: The Seventh Season
— Denise Duguay

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