‘Anatomy’ of a hit: superb writing

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November 16, 2006

2:38 AM

p. I must confess: the sole reason I began my magical journey into the world of “Grey’s Anatomy” was the fact that the promo was set to a Postal Service song. Who wanted another hospital drama, anyway? Patrick Dempsey didn’t even figure into the equation (Hello? Reese Witherspoon’s “Sweet Home Alabama” reject? Thanks, but no thanks), and besides the chick from “Sideways” (Sandra Oh), where did the rest of these people come from? Didn’t the producers know we’d seen this before? Seriously?
Unfortunately, I’m powerless before the Postal Service. It’s like I can’t say no. Thus, I found myself in front of my television set on that fateful Sunday evening, lo those many years ago, oddly intrigued by the quirky, witty, comedic drama of Seattle Grace Hospital. Now in it’s third season and better than ever, “Grey’s Anatomy” is easily the best all-around show on the small screen. Seriously.

p. Creator, executive producer and writer of the show, Shonda Rhimes, has one of the most brilliant minds of our time. Her concept is simple, making the possible hilarious twists and awkward, hospital-cest plotlines delightfully plentiful. Rhimes writes her characters with such heart and warmth that the audience eventually cozies up to even the most initially unlikable of personages. She shows the human side of each individual on the show, refusing to let them be two-dimensional. While the occasional sordid love triangle may slide its way into the story, the thread is always carried out in a genuinely innovative manner; there is nothing trite or exceedingly annoying about it. From the sharp direction, right down to the sly use of hit song titles as episode names, the show’s presentation is wholly unparalleled.
No character is without fault, and each has his or her own relatively unique idiosyncrasies. The title character, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), tends toward drowning her sorrows in alcohol and sex. As one of her fellow surgical interns points out, “When your life is sucking, you get drunk and sleep with inappropriate men. It’s your thing. Whatever. I find it charming.” So do we, Meredith. So do we.

p. Presumably, Meredith’s first “inappropriate man” is Derek Shepherd (Dempsey). The pair meets in Joe’s Bar, a local pub, both new to Seattle. One thing leads to another, and they engage in what Meredith believes to be a one night stand. It turns out Derek is actually her “boss’s boss,” and he seems to have other ideas about their relations(hip). Shepherd finally wins her over, only to have his estranged wife, Addison (Kate Walsh), show up at the hospital. Surprise — she’s staying as Seattle Grace’s newest obstetrics specialist.

p. Derek is in constant competition for the position of chief of surgery with a man named Preston Burke. Burke is one of the top surgeons in the nation until an accidental shooting causes him to suffer nerve damage and convulsions in his “million dollar hand.” This season, we sit in the middle of Burke’s personal turmoil, as his future at Seattle Grace grows ever more uncertain.
Burke’s live-in girlfriend, Christina Yang (Oh), is another of the surgical interns at the hospital. Cut-throat and “type A,” Yang is hardly used to feeling empathy. However, with Preston’s injury looming over her, Christina has finally found the will to care for another person. She nurses Preston through his recovery, and has no qualms about helping him in the operating room, even if her means are slightly duplicitous.

p. With an ingenious title that parallels the famed medical student’s guide to the body, “Gray’s Anatomy,” I should have known from the beginning that this show would be incredible. Personalities, plots and a hoard of fantastic supporting characters make the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy” the best ensemble since “Friends,” and these guys get into far more entertaining situations — especially with each other. Stay tuned for further shocking, yet amusing, romantic entanglements and endearing personality blemishes. You won’t believe what’s up next. Seriously. “Grey’s Anatomy” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on ABC.

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