***You wanted us to check out this show for you, so we put some fresh meat on the case! Please welcome the newest member of the gasm family, DLM Esquire!!
Hello kids! Welcome to the Happy Land of Spinoffville where Shandra Rhymes and friends will be telling us tales of poor little sad-sack, super-hot, brilliant neonatal surgeon Addison Forbes Montgomery (now sans “insert Mc-guy here”). Excited? Let’s do this!
Our journey begins back in the world of Grey’s Anatomy where Chief Webber from Seattle Grace Hospital is scolding Addison about the error of her decision to leave the land of a thousand Starbucks and move to L.A. to work in a medical co-op owned by her “best friend from med school.” The scolding provides an excellent opportunity for Addison to give us the exposition we need, if we don’t recall last season’s Grey’s episode that set up the spin-off. Addison runs down the list of whacky new characters we will all come to know and love, and we are treated to one of my favorite TV writer devices: Fun with Juxtaposition, as Addison describes her new coworkers in glowing terms while we are treated to scenes showing just how freaky and screwed up they all really are.
The aforementioned best friend Dr. Naomi Bennett is described as a fertility specialist and an amazing woman: cut to Naomi on her bathroom floor weeping while shoveling half a cake into her mouth and yelling to her kids that “mommy just needs a moment to herself!”
Cake is food, it’s not love.
Naomi’s ex-husband Dr. Sam Bennett (played by Taye Diggs) is an internist with amazing people skills, but apparently no skills at wrangling one out of control Chihuahua.
Yo Querro Taco Bell!
Next up is the resident Psychiatrist Dr. Violet Turner (played by Amy Bernneman, who goes from lawyer on Judging Amy to doctor. Next season, tune in for: Amy Brenneman – Indian Chief, Only on CBS!). Addison describes her as incredible, grounded and strong: cut to Violet stalking her now married ex by calling him and then hanging up without saying anything, like some high school freshman. Has there ever been a psychiatrist played on television who wasn’t depicted as a total nutjob? TV physicians heal thy selves!
I do it all for the kids
Dr. Cooper Freedman the resident pediatrician (played by Paul Adelstein, who also plays psycho, secret service agent Kellerman on Prison Break, and who is playing perhaps an even creepier character on this show!) is described as a pro and one of the best in his field. We find him cuffed spread-eagle to a bed while beseeching a woman whose name he isn’t even sure of to free him. You see, good Dr. Cooper is the co-op’s resident Merv the Perv. The pediatrician is the sex pervert, creepy Shandra, creepy!
And finally, we round out or happy little family with “alternative medicine” practitioner Dr. Pete Finch (played by Tim Daly. Personally, I will miss his short-lived, but interesting, Lost-wannabe serial drama from last season, The Nine, but apparently I’m all alone there since None of you watched it! And deep down, I must admit I still blame you all for it being canceled… but I’m working on that…honest!)
You may remember that Addison and Dr. Pete played some tonsil hockey last season in the Grey’s setup episode, so he is her built in future love interest and the resident super-confident ladies-man of the show.
You’re such a good kisser that I can almost forget about Wings!
As we conclude our exposition, Chief Webber chides Addison about her move and her “new life” in L.A. asking if she plans to “wear jeans, walk on the beach, dance in her underwear?” Addison replies defiantly that maybe she will dance naked! Sniff…sniff…is that foreshadowing I smell? After all, Shandra knows that Nothing helps sell a Grey’s…er…I mean Private Practice episode like a nudity teaser scene. If you don’t believe me, just go ask Meredith and Izzy…if you can ever get them out of the shower, that is.
With that, we leave the rain of Seattle behind and it’s off to La La Land and the parade of stock footage. It’s all here: the Hollywood sign…check. Some dude surfing…check. Beach shots…check. Yep, it’s L.A., alright. Toto, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.
And, as predicted, we cut to Addison emerging from The Shower! She’s never actually naked, mostly covered in a towel, but we get those tried and true cut-away shots of her feet and hands that are supposed to make us feel like we Could see her naked, if only the camera guy didn’t have a foot fetish and would focus in on the naughty bits! Grrr…I hate that camera guy, he’s such a tease!
(PS: Didn’t we cross some big threshold in the 90′s and decide that you could show some ass on network TV? Does anyone else remember that? Please, don’t tell me we got Denis Franz and that was it! Damn you Janet Jackson! You ruined everything! Some of us would like to see more of the lovely Kate Walsh.)
Anyway…moving on…If there is one thing that TV has taught me, it’s that when you are new in town and dancing all nakedly through your condo, someone is going to see you naked whom you did not want to see you naked. And sure enough, in this case it is Addison’s good friend and surprise next door neighbor Dr. Sam who gets to check out her birthday suit, as she dances in front of her window. But it gets even worse! Dear Lord…I think she was doing The Sprinkler! Could she be any whiter? Am I right people?!
My Sprinkler is so fly, yo!
That’s when we get our first surprise twist. It seems no one told any of the co-op members that Addison was uprooting her life to move there and work with them. Best friend Naomi just pulled rank on their happy little democracy and gave Addison the gig all on her own. Ex-husband Sam is sure it’s a power play by Naomi and the natives are Not happy to have Addison on board. It seems they all thought they were an autonomous collective, when really they were living in a dictatorship! Come, see the violence inherent in the system! (Sorry, I tried to resist, but I just had to throw that in for all the Holy Grail fans in the house…holla!).
Next up is, without a doubt the most ridiculous and poorly written portion of the episode where we learn that even though Addison is a brilliant surgeon and is moving her entire life to work this new job with Oceanside Wellness Group, she apparently had No Earthly Idea what their practice was like. She is Shocked to discover that there is no staff to help her and that rather than performing childbirth in a hospital, like a sane person, she’ll be plying her trade in what looks like the lobby of a Holiday Inn, with only the resident phone boy/surfer dude/midwife for an aid. She never saw any of this coming. Yeah, that sounds Exactly like where I’d want to have a kid.
Enjoy your stay at the Holiday Inn.
And now…it’s time to meet this week’s medical marvels: first up is and old guy who wants to impregnate his new, much younger girlfriend and he is there to…um…make his donation to the project. Soon, we hear moans and everyone assumes that grandpa is getting some action in the donor room, but nope it turns out he’s busy having a stroke. They have to rush him to the Real hospital, but it is too late…grandpa is gone and we hardly knew him.
If any of you guessed that grandpa’s own personal member of the First Wives Club would soon show up, then you were right. And soon the 1960 model is fighting with the 1980 model over who gets grandpa’s sperm now that he’s pushing up daises.
First wife is every bitter clichÃ© straight out of any Diane Keaton movie and so is this storyline. Eventually, First wife learns, from Naomi, that when a relationship is really over, you ultimately need to let go, for your own sake, so she gives the sperm to the younger model…zzzzzzzz…..
Behind door number two is the ever-popular teenage girl who hid her pregnancy from daddy, right up until she started labor. Hmm…rather clichÃ© Sandra, but I guess you didn’t want to dip into your bag of exotic diseases for episode one.
Finally, behind door number three we have Jenny, one of Dr. Violet’s psych patients who has apparently had a break-down in the middle of a Wal-mart-esque store and is busily counting the tiles in the floor and screaming at anyone who tries to go near her. Dr. Violet is paged to the scene. Apparently, the tile counter had Dr. V’s card in her pocket, and those store greeters really are there to help you however they can. They’ll even call your shrink for you when you snap!
And what brilliant course of psychotherapy does Dr. V offer the clearly distressed woman when she arrives? The very first thing that she does is get down on the floor with Jenny- who, clearly in a world of her own doesn’t even register Dr. V’s presence- and say softly into her ear, “You’re getting charged by the hour, so you may as well hear me.” Booyah! Take that mental patient. You just got served! Oh that Dr. V, always there to zing you, in your moment of need. Clearly this woman is at the top of her field.
You’ve Just Been Zinged!
Surprisingly, this zing em’ first approach doesn’t solve the patient’s problem so Dr. V resorts to plan B that tired old actually-try-to-figure-out-what’s-wrong-with-your-patient notion.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I bet you all thought that our teen mother’s birth was going to go along nice and smoothly with no complications. Come on, admit it, you thought that, didn’t you? Well, wrong you were my friends! Shockingly, complications do develop and soon Lucy the troubled teen is passed out and on her way to heart failure. She and the baby will soon die if she doesn’t get to…you guessed it…a Real hospital. For those of you keeping score at home that’s two patients through the door and two patients who ended up needing a real hospital and not some hippie love nest with a hooka in the corner. Just color me observant.
Of course where would the drama be if it were that easy? And this is Cali after all, so the ambulance can’t get through the traffic from the real hospital to the hippie commune in less then 20 minutes. So, as we all absorb the lesson of why one should go to the real hospital in the first place, Addison Montgomery – Super Gen-E-Us leaps into action. Soon, Addison MacGyvers her way into saving both mother and baby with the help of a tube sock and some chewing gum. Just kidding about that last bit, but that would be cool, wouldn’t it?
Oh, and by the way, it turns out that studly Dr. Pete knows how to prevent all pain, so that you can even have major surgery without anesthesia and never feel a twinge of pain. Take that, real hospital!
Man, you would think a guy who could eliminate all pain in the world would be, like, famous, or something.
Back at the Wal-mart, it turns out that Dr. V’s patient saw a video on a monitor in the store of a happy family camping, and a young boy who reminded her of the son she lost to an aggressive form of childhood cancer. Seeing the video caused her breakdown. Until now, none of the cases have had any real emotional resonance to me, but as Dr. V and Dr. Cooper go through the boy’s medical history and talk to his mom about him, it actually is quite touching and, for the first time on Private Practice, we get to see some of the quality, emotionally-invested writing that Grey’s fans know Shandra is capable of producing. Let’s hope that future episodes give us more of those moments and fewer clichÃ©s.
Get out your Kleenex, ladies!
In the end, we are treated to a moment of chic bonding between Naomi and Addison, where Naomi admits that she encouraged Addison to come to L.A., because she needs Addison to be her “someone.” It’s just like Meredith and Christina, except with hot flashes.
And on that note, Dear Reader, I shall leave you…until next week.