Grey's Anatomy: Season 4 - A Change Is Gonna Come (Pilot review)
Review by Jack Foley
INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from current television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the season 4 opener of Grey’s Anatomy entitled A Change Is Gonna Come .
What’s the story? Entering their first year as residents, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) get to boss around interns of their own. Callie (Sara Ramirez), meanwhile, has to struggle with being new chief resident. Among the new interns are George (TR Knight), forced to repeat his internship after failing his exams, and Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh, pictured), Meredith’s half-sister. On day one, everyone has their hands full when a three-car accident sends multiple casualties pouring into Seattle Grace, including the deer that caused it.
Was it any good? Well… in parts. The fourth season opener of Grey’s Anatomy remained as watchable as ever, even though it continues to suffer from the same failings that have blighted previous series – namely, that God-awful emphasis on personal woes over patient trauma.
A Change Is Gonna Come set up some intriguing new possibilities for several of the characters – George and Cristina in particular – but left others still pondering the same old – boring – troubles. Meredith and Derek, for instance, still had sappy eyes for each other, whilst wrestling with the will they/won’t they dynamic of their protracted relationship, and Izzie is still pining for George and acting neurotically during every medical crisis.
Digging a little deeper: The main problem with Grey’s Anatomy has always been its ability to squander the big moments. Key episodes, such as season three’s Drowning On Dry Land – which examined a ferry disaster – had the annoying habit of attempting to offset massive medical situations with the characters’ own personal problems. It never works!
When faced with massive trauma, Shonda Rhimes would have viewers believed that her group of characters aren’t professional enough to put personal concerns to one side while they got on with the serious business of saving lives. Rather, the traumas of the various patients are there to reflect her characters’ concerns.
Hence, no sooner had the bodies started piling up following a multi-car accident at the start of A Change Is Gonna Come than new intern, Lexie (played by Chyler Leigh) announced to Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) that she was her half-sister – right in the middle of the A&E entrance!
Two further questions arise from this latest plot device – do we need another neurotic character like Meredith… and one who shares the same gene pool? And does Meredith need yet another personal connection to fret about?
Chyler Leigh’s introduction was a mostly painful affair as she spent the first half of the episode looking as self-obsessed as her half-sister – although an exchange with George at the end of proceedings at least suggested she may have more of a spine.
George, meanwhile, continued to look put-upon as he balanced his frustrations at having to repeat his internship with the possibility of starting a new family with Callie, or giving into his feelings for Izzie. Needless to say, Izzie won when George showed up at the end of the opener to declare his love for her too.
Izzie, though, is another of the show’s disappointments. A once kooky, free-spirited character, she has now become too weighed down in tragedy and is overly prone to speaking her mind at the expense of even her friends. She should never be allowed to win George – even though, admittedly, George is a somewhat whimpish catch.
Notable by their absence already are Isiah Washington’s Burke, who had handed in his resignation after ditching Cristina at the altar, and Kate Walsh’s Addison, now getting much better material in the superior spin-off series Private Practice.
Still, at least Burke’s absence gave Cristina pause to suggest she does have a heart after all (will we see this developed further?), while Addison’s departure could yet bring McDreamy (Patrick Dempsey) and McSteamy (Eric Dane) back together for some much-needed male bravado.
McDreamy, for his part, continues to look sappy in the presence of Meredith and their appalling break-up attempt suggests more painful soul-searching from both throughout the forthcoming episodes. Please, please, please Derek – let Meredith go and put us out of our misery. She’s simply not worth hanging around for!
Incredibly, and in spite of the many misgivings surrounding the episode, Grey’s Anatomy continues to be entertaining in a car crash kind of way. Let’s just hope that the heaviness of the previous series – which was marked by loss on so many levels – is replaced by something a little lighter this time around.
Unlike benchmark shows such as ER and House, Grey’s is at its best when keeping things light and frivolous, rather than tackling the really heavy issues when it can’t seem to maintain the right focus.
The diagnosis, therefore, as we enter this fourth run is healthy but not super-fit.
What did you think?
- Buy Season 2 on DVD
- Buy Season 1 on DVD
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- Read our review of Grey's Anatomy - Season 1