January 6, 2012


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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Even diminished from the powerhouse it once was, GREY’S ANATOMY is the foundation of ABC’s drama schedule, and its return to the air after a nearly 2 month absence should lift the network’s Thursday considerably.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF:  Things were grim when we last visited Seattle Grace.  Cristina (Sandra Oh) had, unknowingly, operated on Teddy (Kim Raver)’s husband–and presided over his tragic, unavoidable death on the table.  Avery (Jesse Williams) had carelessly left an object in a young mother’s body that had shredded her heart.  (And while Teddy desperately tried to save the woman’s life, the rest of the staff withheld the news of her husband’s death from her.)  Meanwhile Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), having just learned that she and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) weren’t going to be allowed to adopt the baby they’d been caring for, was caught with Karev (Justin Chambers) in a horrific accident in which the ambulance carrying them and the (other) baby they were trying to save was hit on a blind curve, overturning them and totaling the car that crashed into them.

WHERE WE ARE:  The 2012 premiere picked up just where the midseason finale had left off, and things didn’t get markedly more cheerful.  The oldest daughter of the car crash family had to watch not just one but both of her parents die in front of her eyes at the hospital (in a rather too convenient plot turn, she had just turned 18 in the hours since the accident, and so was able to order life support turned off for her dad).  Various teams of regulars worked on the survivors while Meredith tried to comfort the girl.  While all this was going on, a blatant but irresistibly dramatic contrivance found Teddy insisting on having Cristina to assist her in trying to save the woman with the shredded heart–cheerfully enjoying their operating table camaraderie, oblivious to the other doctors watching the ghastly spectacle from the gallery, having no idea that her husband was dead and Cristina had performed the operation.  
Even eight years into its run, with many of its original characters gone and its ratings a memory of what they used to be, Grey’s is still a powerfully slick piece of entertainment.  Shonda Rhimes’ sense of pace and ability to alternate light and dark storylines is far more effective here than it’s ever been on Private Practice, exemplified here by the episode’s final, however implausible, happy ending for Meredith and Derek after the hell they’d gone through in the preceding hours.  The cast continues to perform at a very high level:  although Meredith Grey is still technically the show’s center, Sandra Oh’s Cristina has long been doing the heavy dramatic lifting on the series, and this episode gave her and Kim Raver a showcase, for much of which Oh had to make her miserably mixed emotions clear under a surgical mask, able to act with only her eyes. 
However downsized its ratings may be, Grey’s sole dramatic competition on the ABC drama schedule is the new Once Upon A Time, which got off to a strong start but has been stung by its own hiatus and some questionable scheduling moves by the network.  Like ER in its time, Grey’s should continue on its network’s air for as long as economics permit.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."