December 15, 2012



In its ninth season, GREY’S ANATOMY remains a model of smoothly operating network soap.  This week’s midseason finale, written by Consulting Producer Debora Cahn and directed by Rob Corn, had the bonus of being built around the upcoming wedding of Bailey (Chandra Wilson), and proved again that any episode featuring that character and actress is usually particularly worth watching.

Behind the scenes, several of the show’s leading actors are under contract for only another season or two, so this year Grey’s seems to have quietly started its segue into what version 2.0 (or by now it may be 3.0) of the series may look like, with the introduction of a variety of new interns–all currently guest stars–including Camilla Luddington, Tina Majorino, Gaius Charles and Jemika Hinton.   Luddington’s character appears to be headed for romance with Karev (Justin Chambers), especially since she’s conveniently inherited some of the backstory of his first love Izzie, while in this week’s episode, Hinton’s character had a “why Dr. Edwards, you’re beautiful without your glasses!” moment with Avery (Jesse Williams), so presumably these performers are being thrown at the figurative wall to see who’ll become more permanent members of the staff–although one hopes that the Edwards/Avery scenes don’t mean that his charming involvement with ever-neurotic April (Sarah Drew) is being abandoned.

These storylines are capably mixed in with the heftier sagas of the show’a main characters.  This season has been overshadowed by the aftereffects of last season’s climactic plane crash, with two cast members departing for good, Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) losing her leg, Derek (Patrick Dempsey) injuring his hand, and the resulting lawsuit complicating the already severely troubled marriage of Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Owen (Kevin McKidd).  (Some of us may be ready for the Cristina/Owen story to finally end, one way or another, but at least it gives Oh and McKidd plenty of meaty scenes to play.)  In addition, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) has recently received the blessed event of a pregnancy story that will doubtless keep her busy for the rest of the season.

Grey’s shuffles this all so deftly that it’s easy to overlook how well it handles its characters.  One of the best multi-episode arcs this season was the gradually growing friendship between Cristina, during her sojourn at the Mayo Clinic, and the elderly doctor played by William Daniels (a meta-reference himself thanks to his presence on St. Elsewhere), and the way it’s played out for her character over the course of the entire season thus far.  The show will always have its share of borderline silly plots and patients whose ailments (presumably based on fact) seem to be brought in just to make viewes go “Ughh!” (recently there was the woman with a giant tumor on her rear end), but Shonda Rhimes and her staff know very well how to balance shocking plot developments, like the illness that disrupted Bailey’s wedding at the end of this episode, with smaller time-fillers.

Grey’s is far from its former heights in the ratings, but it’s still one of the top-rated dramas on network air, and although ABC has promising newcomers in Once Upon A Time and Rhimes’ own Scandal, as well as the less-firmly established Revenge and Nashville, it’s safe to assume that the network will want the show to continue for the foreseeable future.  (One of the reasons for the introduction of new cast members is to make the series cheaper to produce, with a minimum of longrunning, and now quite expensive, original stars.) Keeping a series like Grey’s afloat for this many years is a genuine accomplishment, and the show’s prognosis continues to be quite strong.

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."