September 26, 2014

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Grey’s Anatomy”


GREY’S ANATOMY:  Thursday 8PM on ABC

The occasional misguided NY Times profile aside, it’s a good time to be Shonda Rhimes.  With an entire night of ABC’s primetime real estate put into her care, she’s achieved a level of renown and celebrity few TV writer/producers have had–not even her fellow 3-series moguls, Dick Wolf (whose shows have never had her coolness factor) and Chuck Lorre (who dwells in the less zeitgeisty world of CBS sitcoms).  Her getting there is no accident:  the original jewel in her crown, GREY’S ANATOMY, is entering its 11th season, and although it’s lost some speed off its fastball, it’s a model of the way a serialized show can remain vital even after many of its original stars (and Rhimes herself, who’s turned day-to-day control over to others) have departed.

The season 11 premiere, written by Executive Producer Stacy McKee and directed by Kevin McKidd (who’s increasingly been adding directing work to his acting duties), picked up the day after last May’s finale, and had family, both blood and surrogate, as its theme.  In the operating room, a man rescued after wandering for weeks in the desert lost hope that his family had died without him (they were fine), while another husband and father didn’t survive.  In the doctors’ arena, the show brought one of its new storylines front and center, while keeping another close to its vest for the moment.  We’d been introduced to cardiologist Dr. Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) at the very end of the Season 10 finale, as well as the fact that she is the half-sister of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) herself–and we know, although Maggie doesn’t, that she’s also probably the daughter of Meredith’s mother’s lover Dr. Webber (James Pickens, Jr)–which he’s figured out too.  The episode’s twist was that Meredith and Maggie absolutely despise each other, and that relationship will of course play out throughout at least the next section of the series.  (There were also a series of flashbacks to Meredith’s youth, which will apparently be a regular feature, since the show went to the trouble of hiring Sally Pressman and J. August Richards to play the younger versions of Ellis Grey and Webber.)  Meanwhile, there was just a quick appearance by Geena Davis as a senior doctor offering a fellowship to Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), causing tension with Callie (Sara Ramirez), but obviously the show wasn’t paying Davis’s freight for a two-minute scene, so much more with her is to come.

Meanwhile, various plotlines from last season continued:  Derek (Patrick Dempsey) decided to stay in Seattle instead of moving to Washington, for the good of his family and his status on the series; Meredith, needing a new “person” now that Cristina has departed, bonded with Karev (Justin Chambers); Karev himself prepared to do battle with Bailey (Chandra Wilson) over Cristina’s vacated hospital board seat.

However unexceptional all this may have been, it was smoothly delivered at a speedy pace, with expert performances in every direction, and a well-judged mix of life-or-death drama, light humor and soap.  The departure of Sandra Oh will certainly leave a hole in the show, but at least in its first hour without her, things functioned well enough.  Despite some bad moves over the years, Grey’s has never really jumped the shark, and although its ratings have diminished and will probably keep doing so just as a function of age, it’s still a solid hit for ABC and seems to have plenty of life left in it (ER made it to 15 seasons, and that doesn’t seem like an impossibility, if enough of the cast stays on hand).  Real hospitals should only function as well as the one in Shondaland.


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."