Part of ABC TV's big turnaround in the last few years, "Grey's Anatomy" started off as a mid-season replacement in its first season, with only nine episodes. The series picked up steam during its first season and became a breakout hit during its second. A prime post-Super Bowl slot in 2005 netted the show an astonishing 38.1M viewers.
One of the show's best elements is that it finally found consistent work for Ellen Pompeo, a wonderful actress who has brightened up moments in small supportng roles in such films as "Old School", "Moonlight Mile" and others. Pompeo stars as Dr. Meredith Grey, a new doctor following in the footsteps of her famous mother, Ellis (Kate Burton), who now suffers from Altzheimers.
In the first season, her roommates turn out to be a pair of fellow doctors: Isobel "Izzie" Stevens (Katherine Heigl) and George O'Malley (T.R. Knight, who looks an awful lot like Sean Astin to me). Other fellow fresh docs in the Seattle hospital include: Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Alex Karev (Justin Chambers). Shepherd (nicknamed "McDreamy") (Patrick Dempsey) is Meredith's superior, which she finds out after she has a fling with him. Also supervising the newcomers are Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and the Chief of Surgery, Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.).
While Pompeo has an enjoyable on-screen presence and manages to show vulnerability and drive equally well, the entire ensemble shares the spotlight quite well, with highlights such as Oh's ambitious doc and others. The show's cast also has good chemistry with one another, and the series does a mostly fine job of developing relationships (such as the one between the Pompeo and Dempsey characters) without making the show seem like a soap. In fact, the show develops both the relationships and the workplace environment quite well, keeping the overall feeling grounded and at least reasonably realistic. Additionally, while the show is primarily a drama, there are moments of comedy on occasion that lighten the mood without taking away from the overall emotion of the episode.
After a third season that fans had a rather negative reaction to (I thought it was certainly uneven), the fourth season of "Grey's" clearly sees the series trying to change things (backed up by the design of the DVD set, which has "Job Changes", "Life Changes", "Everything Changes" and similar McChange-y labels on the DVDs) up a little bit to try and freshen up the show to get it back on the right foot. The fourth season is the first time the series has shifted cast members, with regulars Isaiah Washington and Kate Walsh (Walsh moving over to the "Grey's" spin-off, "Private Practice") leaving and newcomers Chyler Leigh (playing Meredith's younger half-sister) and Brook Smith becoming full-time cast members. Unfortunately for the new arrivals, their first full season on the show was a short one, as the Writer's Guild Strike resulted in the season being shortened down to 17 episodes.
The season itself is a step-up from the one that came before it, as the writing sees some improvements and the ensemble cast begins to show some signs of clicking together like they did early on in the show's run. Christina returns after her failed marriage to Burke, only to find that he's vanished. While Meredith starts off the season dismayed at the presence of her half-sister (who she didn't even know existed), Lexi (Leigh), the two begin to bond as the season goes forward. Callie has difficulty in her new job as the chief resident, while Bailey - at least at first - fumes at not being chosen for the position and doesn't hesitate to let her feelings be known.
The season returns the series to a more pleasing balance of medical drama and relationship issues, and it's nice to see as the medical drama continues to be the stronger side of the show, in my opinion. While Leigh has largely made her mark in comedies, she's unexpectedly good in a dramatic series, as she's excellent in her scenes with Pompeo and wonderfully sweet in scenes like in the first episode, where she brings George out of the spiral he'd found himself in after failing his exams.The Meredith/Derek relationship highs and lows were getting a more than a little tired by the third season, but the fourth season explores Meredith in further detail and tries to draw a greater understanding of how her troubled past has resulted in difficulty with relationships.
Pompeo is improved here, as is the rest of the cast, as while the drama still remains moderately soapy at times, I felt as if the drama was a little more grounded this time around, and that was a benefit to these episodes, some of which - including a very good 2-part season finale - had the kind of emotion and heartbreak that the series had when it started. This season is still hasn't entirely turned the ship around, as the first quarter of the season is somewhat slow going at times, but afterwards things get better quickly.
Season Five of “Grey’s Anatomy” tries to shake things up a bit, but at times it slips back into the usual soap-opera effect of lover quarrels, hospital crises and somewhat convenient emotional obstacles. Season five brings slightly more stability to Meredith and Derek’s relationship, seeing the couple move in together and finally have some level of commitment. Of course, that’s not to say that the on-again, off-again couple doesn’t face their share of relationship difficulties, including Derek uncovering Meredith’s mom’s diary, issues with Meredith’s previous roommates still living in her house, and the fact that their joint clinical trial is published without the inclusion of Meredith’s name. One thing that does bring a new level to their characters is when Derek breaks down after learning some disconcerting news regarding his past surgeries.
Still, what makes “Grey’s Anatomy” as enjoyable as it is are the supporting characters and this season is no different. In season five a lot happens to the rest of the characters. George has to retake his intern exam to see if he can become a resident. Meanwhile his ex, Callie starts dating a female surgeon, Erica (Brooke Smith). Lexie and Mark starting dating, which sheds a new light on Mark’s character. In this season, her character Izzie is diagnosed with cancer and despite Heigl’s issues with the series (which played out in the tabloids), she managed to pull of an engaging and powerful performance in the second half of this season as she comes to grips with her situation.
Thankfully the fifth season - despite its heavy subject matter - manages to have some lighter moments throughout, as well as some touching moments with Izzie and Alex, who develop a deeper relationship in this season. The two-part finale will certainly leave fans on the edge of their seat, surprised, shocked and more than a little curious to know what happens next. While “Grey’s” has certainly had it’s ups and downs, the second half of this season proves it can bring a great cast and powerful writing to the small screen. While it still has moments that fall too far into soap territory, season five is definitely worth a look for those moments that truly rise above the norm.
79. 5- 1 25 Sep 08 Dream a Little Dream of Me (1)
80. 5- 2 25 Sep 08 Dream A Little Dream Of Me (2)
81. 5- 3 9 Oct 08 Here Comes The Flood
82. 5- 4 16 Oct 08 Brave New World
83. 5- 5 23 Oct 08 There's No 'I' In Team
84. 5- 6 30 Oct 08 Life During Wartime
85. 5- 7 6 Nov 08 Rise Up
86. 5- 8 13 Nov 08 These Ties That Bind
87. 5- 9 20 Nov 08 In the Midnight Hour
88. 5-10 4 Dec 08 All By Myself
89. 5-11 8 Jan 09 Wish You Were Here
90. 5-12 15 Jan 09 Sympathy For The Devil
91. 5-13 22 Jan 09 Stairway to Heaven
92. 5-14 5 Feb 09 Beat Your Heart Out
93. 5-15 12 Feb 09 Before and After
94. 5-16 19 Feb 09 An Honest Mistake
95. 5-17 12 Mar 09 I Will Follow You Into The Dark
96. 5-18 19 Mar 09 Stand By Me
97. 5-19 26 Mar 09 Elevator Love Letter
98. 5-20 23 Apr 09 Sweet Surrender
99. 5-21 30 Apr 09 No Good at Saying Sorry (One More Chance)
100. 5-22 7 May 09 What a Difference a Day Makes
101. 5-23 14 May 09 Here's To The Future (1)
102. 5-24 14 May 09 Now or Never (2)
VIDEO:"Grey's Anatomy" is presented by Buena Vista Home Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is quite good, as the image remained crisp and well-defined for the majority, with only a couple of slightly softer moments seen here-and-there.
Some minor edge enhancement and a couple of slight artifacts were visible, but the image was almost entirely free of issues. Colors appeared natural and accurate, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Grey's Anatomy" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The presentation generally remains forward-oriented, as one would expect from a drama like this. Still, surrounds occasionally offer some ambience and other tidbits. Audio quality was certainly satisfactory, with crisp dialogue, music and sound effects.
“Dissecting Grey’s Anatomy - Unaired Scenes” Several deleted scenes are included here and most of them include an option to view the scenes with audio commentary by Creator/Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes and Executive Producer Betsy Beers. While deleted scenes often feel unnecessary, there are a few here that do provide a nice character moment or other detail that, while still non-essential - is enjoyable viewing. Viewing the deleted scenes with commentary adds to the viewing experience mainly because it offers some insight into why the scene was dropped.
“In Stitches: Season Five Outtakes” four minutes of outtakes are a nice edition to the Fifth season DVD with some humorous moments and flubbed lines.
“100th Episode: Tales From The O.R.” a very nice look the series that reached 100 episodes in season five. With a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage including a look at the table reads, costumes, filming, editing and the 100th episode party, as well as interviews this is a great edition to the set.
“Heaven Sent” a nine minute look with interviews at the character Denny and the process of developing the character and casting the role.
SNEAK PEEKS “Life on Mars”, “Scrubs: The Complete Eight Season”, “Private Practice”, “Cheri”, “10 Things I Hate About You: Tenth Anniversary Special Edition”, “Castle: The Complete First Season”, “Old Dogs”
Final Thoughts:While “Grey’s” has certainly had it’s ups and downs, the second half of this season proves it can bring a great cast and powerful writing to the small screen. Despite often feeling like a soap, season five still sees the series able to find moments of genuine hope and heartbreak. Recommended.