Private Practice: Season 2 - Review
Review by Jack Foley
PRIVATE Practice, the spin-off series from Grey’s Anatomy, showed signs of surpassing its better known originator during an engaging first season.
Sadly, the 22 episodes that comprised the show’s sophomore run failed dysmally.
Set in a Santa Monica practice beset by financial difficulties and conflicted doctors, the show essentially follows Kate Walsh’s Dr Addison Forbes Montgomery, a renowned neo-natal surgeon, as she tries to make a new life for herself.
Joining her at the practice are divorced co-founders Naomi (Audra McDonald) and Sam (Taye Diggs), as well as romeo doc Pete Wilder (Timothy Daly), caring paediatrician Cooper Freedman (Paul Adelstein), and neurotic psychologist Violet Turner (Amy Brenneman).
But with a focus more on soap than healthcare, the show increasingly became a toothless, contrived affair that seemed to want to ring the tears from you with each episode.
The writing, in particular, was manipulative… with each week’s medical dilemma serving as a blatant metaphor for the dilemma of the week of the central characters.
It’s not quite as preachy and kooky as the similarly annoying and reality detached Grey’s Anatomy – but it’s flying pretty close to being as derisory.
The supposedly shocking season finale was a classic case in point: ending with a mentally unstable patient holding Violet’s pregnant psychologist hostage at home so that she could cut her baby from her womb and steal it.
It should have been shocking… even traumatic, but owing to the various manipulations of the plot, and the increased lack of empathy we had for any of the characters, it was hard to view it as anything other than a contrived attempt to shock people into watching.
Most of the characters, meanwhile, are starting to exhibit the same selfish traits that bedevil so many of Grey’s Anatomy‘s inhabitants.
The once feisty, fiercely independent Addison is now a shadow of her former self – continually lovelorn, continually conflicted medically, and always falling in love with the wrong man. In Season 2, she went from a stable relationship with a cop to a potentially catatstrophic affair with another doctor (who just happened to be the husband of the pregnant woman she was treating).
But Brenneman’s supposedly endearing kooky psychologist is similarly annoying: taking advantage of Adelstein’s kindly Dr Freedman to look after her during pregnancy, even though the father could be one of two other colleagues.
This state of affairs, in turn, puts Dr Freedman’s relationship with rival practice head Charlotte King (Kadee Strickland) in jeopardy – although the bickering partners are even more annoying and on/off than Derek and Meredith in Grey’s Anatomy.
We could go on… but the characters aren’t worth the time; while each new medical case seemed designed to cause the maximum emotional distress – almost every episode had a life or death element to it, which eventually became wearying.
For a show that started off so promisingly, the comedown is all the more disappointing.
Season three, currently airing in America, has so far managed to attract the highest ratings of the series so far. Whether that’s down to an improvement in quality, or America’s obsession with this type of soapy sentiment and high drama, remains to be seen.
UK DVD Release: March 1, 2010