Saturday, October 13, 2007

"You need to start watching more current TV": Private Practice

Yeah, I'm behind on my Shonda. While I've been very much enjoying Grey's, Private Practice is still taking its time IMO. While ratings-wise it looks like the only new show to have established any kind of foothold after a few weeks, creatively it's definitely pretty muddled, I think. I hear the episode order has been switched around, which might be why everything seems all over the place, but the characters just aren't there yet and Addison has been kinda backgrounded since the pilot. I'd be okay with one if it helped the other, but...nope. I have two episodes to write about and not much to say, and that's never a good sign.

The real problem is that Private Practice is trying to launch itself out of Grey's Anatomy as well as keeping its style quite separate from it. So while the medical plots in Grey's are often an afterthought, usually there to push home some point about the characters treating them. Here, so far has the patients have been front and center on this show, and the soapy intertwining of the characters are mostly moot. There's only a few people on staff in the wellness center and they all (except for Naomi and Sam) are perfectly fine with each other. There's much less growing and learning to be done by the doctors, instead they just gotta deal with who comes in the door. Sure, Addison and Pete glower at each other once in a while. And sure, something was going on with Naomi and Dell, and yeah, Violet and Cooper have good chemistry. But the first arcs of Grey's Anatomy had a wacky energy with all the sex and craziness--PP has been sadly tepid in comparison. The major patient plots of episodes two and three were the baby-switched parents and the 34-year-old virgin, and they dominated proceedings way too much, I thought.

It's not that they gave bad performances or anything like that. The baby-swap thing was a pretty tired story to tell, though. All the guest actors did a noble job, and I seem to remember thinking Audra McDonald was pretty good, but it was all just a one-episode plot with a storyline outta Oprah that meant nothing to the main cast. The 34-year-old virgin at least had a little relevance, because of Naomi and Addison's tepid love lives, but it wasn't played as dramatically and it felt kinda in-your-face and lame. I think I liked the B-story medical plots in the third episode better: Cooper and the case of the blue children, and the mean wife sneezing blood all over her nebbish husband. The second episode was far worse with the grandmother poisoning her son and getting away with it. Ugh, that was annoying. Anyway, I just wish they'd foster more stuff between the doctors rather than having so much material about the patients. It's making the show oddly procedural and kind of a bore.

Cause there is good stuff here. Sam (Taye Diggs, if you don't have the names down yet) is truly underdeveloped but I think he could be a funny character if they fleshed him out a little. He has a kinda bemused, square thing going on and that's funny! Just stop tying him to Naomi all the time, and bring him out of the background. TAYE DIGGS, right? As for Naomi (McDonald), I liked her freakout at Dell (Lowell) about him baking the cakes. Again though, they need to calm down on the Naomi/Sam breakup and look and different angles for those characters. I'm sure they'll be brought back together again eventually, but hold off for now, it's a lot better that way. The writers made their first attempt to flesh out the Pete (Daly) character in episode 3, which is good, cause his demi-McDreamy/soul healer act was wearing thin. His monologues to the grave of his wife were over-the-top but still effective, and his smouldering to Addison afterwards wasn't bad. Still, I'm not sure about this slow burn. One of the advantages of Grey's was it had Meredith and McDreamy hook up in the first episode, defusing at least the immediate tension between them. All Addison and Pete have done is kissed, and it barely even counts, cause it was in an episode of Grey's!

As for Cooper (Adelstein) and Violet (Breneman), they're easily the best characters and it's almost like they're in another show. Or at least a spinoff of this one. Violet's ex-boyfriend issues are really only handled by Cooper, and they're so far the best running plot the show has. The bicycle thing in ep 2 was a little on the nose, but I guess I'm a sucker for that stuff, cause I dug it. The answering machine thing in ep 3 was even MORE on the nose but I still liked their banter about it. There's elements of something a lot better with Violet and Cooper, so hopefully things for the show will similarly improve after a few more episodes. Right now it's painfully uninteresting background viewing for me.


Carrie said...

I explained my continued watching of this show to a friend who had already quit as "Eh, it's something I can read magazines to." Nothing that's happened so far has made me think this will change anytime soon, which is too bad.

I agree that Violet and Cooper are really the only redeeming things right now. I perk up whenever they are on the screen and put my magazine down for a few minutes.

David Sims said...

I tend to pair socks or play game boy while this one is on. I mean, WHERE is Addison?

Also, I caught The Other Side of This Life on british TV the other day and it's a lot worse than I remember, lol. A lot worse.