Grey's Anatomy - Season 1 (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Autonomy of a Pilot – The toughest cuts from the Pilot Episode. Dissecting Grey’s Anatomy – Exclusive Unaired Scenes. Behind the Scenes Feature. Cast and Creator Commentaries. Alternate Main Title Sequence.
GREY’S Anatomy is the latest medical drama to arrive on our TV screens from America, offering a slightly different variation on the usual mix of good-looking, fast-talking doctors and challenging ethical dilemmas.
While certainly hard-hitting and poignant in places, the show is much more light-hearted than the likes of ER and House, while also geared towards the characters’ personal lives.
Hence, it’s best described as an easygoing mix of medical procedure and Ally McBeal-style drama that’s both quirky and endearing in equal measure.
Ellen Pompeo stars as Meredith Grey, the daughter of a renowned surgeon at the Seattle-based hospital, who struggles to fulfil her own ambitions as a surgical intern while keeping secret the fact that her mother now suffers from Alzheimer’s.
Together with fellow interns Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigle), George O’Malley (TR Knight), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) and Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), she must deal with the life and death situations posed by hospital life while trying to maintain a grip on her personal life, already complicated by the fact that she’s sleeping with her boss, Doctor Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey).
Grey’s Anatomy began life as a mid-season replacement on ABC’s spring schedule in America but quickly became a smash hit that attracted widespread acclaim.
It’s easy to see why. For all of its flaws, the show is supremely entertaining thanks to the efforts of its strong ensemble cast and expert mix of laughter and tears.
Each episode unfolds at a cracking pace and there’s always plenty going on to counteract anything that doesn’t work.
Incredibly, however, one of its biggest failings lies in the casting of its central character, Ellen Pompeo, who emerges as a none-too satisfying cross between Renee Zellweger and Calista Flockhart.
Saddled with an irritating voice-over that book-ends each episode, her character seldom warrants the sympathy or adulation that so many of the cast seem prepared to give her – particularly in terms of the men who crave her affection.
Far better are the likes of Katherine Heigle’s Izzie Stevens and Sandra Oh – Heigle, especially, emerges as a much prettier, more caring and resolutely feisty central character than Gray, while Oh steals many of the show’s best lines as the most ambitious of the group.
TR Knight is also good fun as the bumbling nice-guy George even though his juvenile crush on Grey threatens to become annoying.
Of the more established cast members, both Chandra Wilson as Dr Bailey (aka “the Nazi”) and Isaiah Washington as a rival head surgeon bring a welcome element of scepticism and arrogance respectively, while Patrick Dempsey is on top form as the smooth-talking Dr Shepherd.
There’s even a quirky soundtrack to keep things moving, provided by the likes of PSAPP, Jem and Rilo Kiley.
Of the nine episodes that comprise the first series, Grey’s Anatomy offers undemanding viewing that’s both easy on the eye and mind. Whether it can sustain its quirky charms through a second season remains to be seen, but the first few episodes currently being screened on Channel 5 certainly suggest that it may even be improving – nailing that mix of humour and tragedy as efficiently as a surgeon’s knife.
It’s a show that has the potential to be a long-runner, so why not catch up with anything you may have missed…