September 26, 2012




WHERE WE WERE:  Absorbing a lot of drama.  Pete (Tim Daly) was arrested for his part in a mercy-killing.  Addison (Kate Walsh), having chosen to finally begin her romance with Jake (Benjamin Bratt), was surprised by a proposal from Sam (Taye Diggs).  Amelia (Caterina Scorsone), with the help of Sheldon (Brian Benben), was trying to get through her drug addiction and the horrific pregnancy that resulted in a child born without a functioning brain.  Only Cooper (Paul Adelstein) and Charlotte (KaDee Strickland) seemed to be settled in with Cooper’s biological son Mason (Griffin Gluck).

WHERE WE ARE:  Catching up with everyone, one by one.  The 6th season premiere, written by Executive Producer Barbie Kligman and directed by Executive Producer Mark Tinker, was structured as a series of vignettes, with each act of the hour centered on one or a pair of characters.  The season didn’t waste time getting off to a heady start; it was already known that Tim Daly wasn’t returning to the show, but he could have been less unceremoniously dispatched than via death by a heart attack during an (off-screen) jog, his body discovered in the dirt.  Lest things get too depressing, the other major event was the discovery that contrary to her plans, Charlotte is pregnant–with triplets.  Also, Addison and Jake are officially in love and apparently moving in together, Sam has a new girlfriend, and Amelia has been sober for a solid year.  Meanwhile Sheldon, despite enjoying a renewed (if limited) relationship with his ex-wife, seems to have gotten dire medical news from Sam.

So, whew.  So much was going on with the regulars tonight that there was barely even time for a patient-of-the-week (a daughter about to give birth managing to forgive her alcoholic wastrel of a father after his well-timed heart attack, allowing her to introduce him to his grandson before the end credits).  It’s not a secret that in all probability, this is Private Practice‘s last gasp.  The show only received a 13-episode order for its 6th season, and along with the departure of Daly, Kate Walsh has let it be known that even if the show manages to be extended, she’ll be leaving at that point.  Barring some unexpected ratings explosion (or the implosion of ABC’s other hours), this season is, if not a victory lap, one last tour of the territory.

For all the changes and permutations Practice has gone through over the years, and its ensemble packed with A-list cast members, it’s always been the stepchild of creator Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy empire, somehow never as engaging or absorbing as its sibling.  The show has never stopped trying, though, and its energetic tumble of storylines introduced tonight guarantees plenty of tumult during these last months.  Much as with the passing of Pete, when Private Practice ceases to be, the memories will be kind but not all that passionate; it filled an hour of the week fairly well, for more years than most shows can claim, without leaving any particular legacy.

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."