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Private Practice Recap: Season Two, Episode One, "A Family Thing"

Private Practice Rundown: Episode One, "A Family Thing"

At this Summer's TCA press tour, a lot of shows talked about "hitting the reset button" after the writers' strike — but maybe none more than Private Practice. The Grey's Anatomy spinoff had a rough go in season one, and the producers wanted to refocus it to be more about medicine and moral dilemmas. Wednesday's premiere was a step in that direction, though I didn't think the actual "reset" came till the closing minutes. To hear my thoughts, just


This episode is spent mostly "resetting" the situation of Oceanside Wellness to be anything but the idyllic clinic we once imagined it to be. It's less of a lovey-dovey family and more one of those families where everyone bickers all the time (though they might still come in for group hugs eventually) — plus its finances are in disarray.

The idea of Naomi doing something drastic to save the practice and having it go wrong rang true for me; we've seen her struggle to balance the responsibilities of her job before (Violet: "She does everything. We just eat the candy."), plus she's still an emotional wreck. She wants something to go right so badly that she makes things go wrong instead. Another thing gone wrong is the situation with her patient, which angers Addison enough to sell her out to Sam at the end. And I have to say, if Private Practice wants to deliver a whole season full of heart-rending moral dilemmas, choosing one child's life over another is a pretty gut-punching way to start.

Cooper, meanwhile, had something of a similar dilemma: choosing whether to protect the privacy of his patient or the wishes of his parents when he knew that either could put another kid at risk for HIV. I don't know much about medical law, but just as a human being, I think Cooper had to say something — and clearly everyone realized it by the end. Maybe it's because the kid playing the teenage patient was pretty charismatic, but I related to that story more than Addison and Naomi's.

Oh, yeah: romance. Cooper and Charlotte are still doing their kinky thing, but Cooper's starting to want to be "boyfriend and girlfriend" while Charlotte, apparently queen of saying the wrong thing in bed, thinks whatever they're doing isn't that serious. Ouch. It is nice to see him not mooning over Violet, though. And Addison gets the romantic subplot that works least well for me, since apparently the SWAT guy can disappear for days on end but then — coincidence! — start showing up at her home and office. First, that's creepy. Second, she deserves better.

Some other thoughts:

  • Naomi's "I'm gonna donate my lips to chocolate" made me chuckle.
  • On the other hand, if I heard a doctor on TV say "I put my hands inside a woman's body and fix what's wrong," I would probably not be going to that doctor.
  • Dell quits. He's such an afterthought that I kind of forgot about him.
  • I'm assuming Violet basically uttered the new mission statement for the show: "When any of us come into an ethical grey area we all discuss it! We decide as a practice what to do!"

So, Addison sells out Naomi, Sam's in charge, Cooper's breaking free, nobody gets a bonus, annnnnnd: reset! Are you curious to see where Private Practice goes from here? Did you find the show improved? And seriously, y'all, can we get Violet a plotline?

Photos copyright 2008 ABC, Inc.

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