Private Practice" is the highly anticipated spin-off of "Grey's Anatomy" (the plot of the series was essentially put into motion in the 2-part "Grey's" episode, "The Other Side of This Life") starring actress Kate Walsh as Dr. Addison Montgomery and created by "Grey's" exec producer Shonda Rhimes. In "Private," Montgomery has exited Seattle to head to sunny California to work in a private practice run by her pal, Naomi (Audra McDonald).
However, when she arrives, things are not exactly as they seemed: the practice is less advanced then she expected, no one was told of her arrival and Naomi's ex-husband, Sam (Taye Diggs) accidentally sees Addison naked. Overall, Addison's not exactly pleased, but as Naomi reminds her - she wanted change and this is definitely change.
At the practice, she's joined by a series of doctors specializing in different areas, including Dr Pete Wilder (Tim Daley), Violet Turner (Amy Brenneman), Cooper Freedman (Paul Adelstein), Sam, Naomi and nurse-in-training William Parker (Chris Lowell). The doctors find themselves up against the chief of the nearby hospital, Charlotte King (KaDee Strickland).
The series - at least at the open of the first season - seemed to have trouble mixing its blend of medical drama and lighter comedy, as while "Grey's" occasionally has lighter moments, these serve as hits of comedic relief. The lighter, somewhat quirky tone that was present in early stretches of this series results in the drama having less weight. The show started to achieve a better balance as season one went on, but the kind of quirkiness the show goes for at times doesn't come together as it shifts uneasily between laughs and more emotional moments.
The second season of the series saw the show getting on more stable footing, as the attempts to balance different tones started to improve noticeably and a series that was not always consistent in season one started to feel much less uneven in season 2. The second season also offered another cross-over with parent series "Grey's Anatomy", as well. This round of episodes offers a set of mostly engaging storylines - both romantic and dramatic - including Addison finding out that the practice is in trouble due to unpaid bills, which leads to Addison taking on a larger role and then finding herself and the rest of the practice up against competition - surprisingly, lead by someone quite familiar.
In terms of relationship dramas in season two, Addison had two difference romances, only to find them dissipate. Addison does run into a family situation, however, when her brother reappears in her life in need of medical help and he gets it - from "Grey's" character Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey). Pete and Violet also find romance, and take their relationship further as the season goes on. However, it’s the end of season two that really shakes things up when one of Violet’s patients shows up and attacks her, claiming Violet’s baby is her own.
The third season picks up where season two left off. The season three opener is an emotional one that leaves you guessing up until the end the state of Violet and her baby’s life. Once it’s revealed you think that maybe all will be well, but this is only the beginning of Violet’s journey towards recovery both mentally and physically as she initially ignores the fact that she has a child. Her storyline leads to a dramatic custody battle as well as the realization that Pete may have moved on for good.
Meanwhile, Addison must reconcile with her actions from seasons past, while trying to rebuild her friendship with Naomi. Additionally, when her dad (Stephen Collins) shows up, she’s forced to prove that she’s a capable doctor. To top things off, her mother (JoBeth Williams) also shows up, leading to a family secret being exposed. Naomi and Sam must adjust to their daughter, Maya (Shavon Kirksey) growing up, which creates further tension among them. After being fired, Charlotte joins Oceanside Wellness Group. Finally, by the end of season three, a regular cast member leaves the show for good.
Season three continues to be strong and ride on powerful performances. Walsh remains a compelling foundation for the series, offering her best effort in order to carry the new show. She's backed up by a series of experienced supporting players that offer fine performances of their own, including Diggs, Daley, McDonald and Brenneman. It’s clear that “Private Practice” is stepping up its game and starting to further differentiate itself from “Grey’s Anatomy.” While some of the storylines do feel heavy-handed, the performances are so solid that you can accept any soap-opera moments. A lot happens in Season three, and while there’s a “starter kit” included on disc one to catch up new fans, I recommend watching the first two seasons before jumping into season three.
32 01/Oct/09 A Death in the Family
33 08/Oct/09 The Way We Were
34 15/Oct/09 Right Here, Right Now
35 22/Oct/09 Pushing the Limits
36 29/Oct/09 Strange Bedfellows
37 05/Nov/09 Slip Slidin' Away
38 12/Nov/09 The Hard Part
39 19/Nov/09 Sins of the Father
40 03/Dec/09 The Parent Trap
41 03/Dec/09 Blowups
42 14/Jan/10 Another Second Chance
43 21/Jan/10 Best Laid Plans
44 04/Feb/10 Shotgun
45 11/Feb/10 Love Bites
46 18/Feb/10 'Til Death Do Us Part
47 04/Mar/10 Fear of Flying
48 11/Mar/10 Triangles
49 25/Mar/10 Pulling the Plug
50 01/Apr/10 Eyes Wide Open
51 22/Apr/10 Second Choices
52 29/Apr/10 War
53 06/May/10 In the Name of Love
54 13/May/10 The End of a Beautiful Friendship
VIDEO: The show is presented by Buena Vista in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality is terrific, as the series looked a touch better than broadcast quality on this DVD. The picture remained well-defined during most scenes, with only the occasional touch of softness here-and-there. A few slight instances of artifacting were spotted, but the majority of scenes appeared smooth and clean, with no edge enhancement or other faults. The show's warm color palette is a clear contrast from "Grey's", and the warm hues looked rich and well-saturated throughout. Overall, this was an excellent presentation of the series.
SOUND: The series is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The series is mostly dialogue-driven. Some slight surround use for ambience and reinforcement of the music is occasionally heard. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue.
“Kate’s Top 8” are Kate Walsh’s top 8 elements from season three. Each choice features footage and interviews about the choice and what makes that particular choice so important to the series, and to Kate Walsh. Her favorites include: location, medical cases, Violet, crossovers, fashion, Maya, romances, and Addison’s family secret.
There are also 12 “Deleted Scenes” with a play all option and a four minute blooper reel included on the DVD.
The ABC starter kit for “Private Practice” is included on disc one, to help catch up with previous seasons.
Final Thoughts: "Private Practice" continues to improve, step-by-step, with Walsh backed up by a solid supporting cast. The DVD offers very good audio/video quality, as well as a few extras. Recommended.