Grey's Anatomy: Season 5 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
THE fifth season of Grey’s Anatomy was arguably where the show hit rock bottom.
Having been in gradual decline since its sophomore session, the hospital ensemble seemed to be limping into this fifth year on and off-screen.
Storylines increasingly seemed desperate, once likeable characters were self-consumed and painfully annoying, and some of the show’s top stars (Katherine Heigl and TR Knight) seemed less than committed to its future.
Even newcomers such as Kevin McKidd’s ex-military surgeon Owen Hunt failed to breathe new life into proceedings, especially as the writers had him fall into the same love-lorn, angst-ridden trap that seems to bedevil most men on the show at this stage.
The interminable will they/won’t they relationship between drippy Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and selfish Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) continued to rumble on, Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) continued to act in her own best interests, and Chief Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr) continued to operate without any backbone.
But that wasn’t even the worst of it! Rather, that was left to the slow-building (ie snail’s pace) storyline involving Izzie (Katherine Heigl)’s diagnosis of cancer that included one of the most ridiculous plot devices in television history.
The device in question involved the return of deceased love Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to set up a three-way love triangle also involving Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) that was silly beyond extreme (particularly when scenes started involving Izzie having sex with a ghost).
Had this been explored for one episode then maybe the show would have got away with it, but the love triangle was dragged out over the last third of the series until the final realisation that Denny had only ‘returned’ for a reason – to help Izzie come to terms with the fact she was ill.
The ensuing cancer storyline, and Izzie’s will she/won’t she fight for survival, was also turgid and, quite frankly, insulting, populated by scenes of Izzie finding the energy to belatedly organise Derek and Meredith’s wedding from her bed.
And, in typical fashion, each episode began with a smug knowingness and kooky humour, only to find itself in over-cooked melodrama come the end.
Quite frankly, by the time the two-hour finale came to pass, I didn’t care what happened to several of the main contenders… while the supposedly jaw-dropping last shot also held little in the way of real shock value.
In fact, as has happened so many times before, Grey’s Anatomy once again fell prone to unfavourable comparisons with ER, especially in the delivery of the season finale’s big shock moment and the death of George O’Malley (Knight).
The device used – the hospital staff treating a horribly disfigured patient who turns out to be one of their own – has already been employed in an old ER but was much better handled. Once you saw it coming, the impact wasn’t half as forceful for the Grey’s team.
That said, it’s worth noting that the sixth season of the show has delivered a marked improvement, focusing more on patients and medical dilemmas, as well as a battle of wits between Derek and Webber, that suggests the writers knew where they’d been going wrong.
Season 5 therefore exists as a joining the dots kind of link between seasons that’s probably best viewed with the fast forward button close at hand. It’s painful in large doses…
UK DVD Release: August 23, 2010
- Buy Season 5 on DVD (Amazon)
- Grey's Anatomy: Season 6 - Good Mourning review
- Grey's Anatomy - Season 4 (Season review)
- Grey's Anatomy - Season 4: Freedom (season finale review)
- Grey's Anatomy - Season 4: A Change Is Gonna Come review
- Grey's Anatomy - Season 3 (Review)
- Grey's Anatomy - Season 3: Drowning On Dry Land review
- Grey's Anatomy - Season 3: What I Am review
- Read our verdict on Grey's Anatomy - Season 2
- Grey's Anatomy soundtracks 1 & 2 reviewed
- Read our review of Grey's Anatomy - Season 1