As I said earlier, I really wish the LA portion of this week's "Grey's Anatomy could have gotten its own hour, rather than being intercut with the regular episode. It was tough to get a good sense of what kind of show "Private Practice" could be from that jumpy, scattered two-hour episode. Frankly, I wish they'd skipped the medical cases in LA altogether; we didn’t even care about the doctors yet, much less the patients.
Still, I imagine that if I could pull all the "Private Practice" bits out and watch it as a stand-alone episode, I'd think it was a decent pilot. It wasn't anywhere near as good as the "Grey's" pilot was back in 2005, but the "Grey's" pilot was one of the best I've ever seen. Pilots always have problems, especially in ensemble shows where the writers have to set up a lot of background. But I thought the "Private Practice" elements had promise, even if the show's not quite there yet.
Maybe the most reassuring thing for me was seeing Addison carry a show successfully, so
I love Addison — she's been my favorite character on "Grey's" from her first appearance — but I worried that she wouldn't be compelling as a leading lady. I don't need to worry about that anymore. Kate Walsh is a good dramatic actress, but she might be even better at comedy, which will come in handy if the spinoff keeps its lighter tone. And how great was it to see Addison among friends? In Seattle, she's always been a bit of an outcast, and we haven't seen much of her personal life — most likely because she doesn't really have one outside of work. Her interactions with Naomi were refreshing and fun, and I could see those two sassy, saucy 30-somethings conquering LA together.
Let's meet the rest of the characters:
- Naomi (Merrin Dungey), Addison's med school best friend. She's a fertility specialist, and she's divorced and bitter because she feels she did everything right and still ended up unfulfilled.
- Sam (Taye Diggs), Naomi's ex-husband and the guru of the Oceanside Wellness Center. He woke up one morning, asked for a divorce and doesn’t really know why.
- Violet (Amy Brenneman), Oceanside's therapist who is — shockingly — convinced she'll never find true love.
- Cooper (Paul Adelstein), the socially awkward pediatrician who either has a thing for Violet, has had a thing with her in the past, or both.
- Dell (Chris Lowell), Oceanside's receptionist and resident eye candy, who has a thing for Naomi. He also parades around shirtless before and after his daily surfing breaks, much to the delight of Naomi and Violet (and now Addison).
- Pete (Tim Daly), the alterna-doc who gives Addison her first acupuncture treatment and also her first LA kiss.
I saved Pete for last because, while I'm not the biggest Tim Daly fan, I did think he and Kate Walsh had some pretty convincing chemistry. I wasn't surprised to find out, though, that Pete has his problems; he's been widowed for eight years and struggles to make personal connections.
As for the storyline, Addison heads to LA to try to have a baby, which might have been a nice surprise had ABC not spoiled it in the promos. She finds out she can't conceive, which is just perfect — she didn't have a baby with the right guy because she was focusing on her career, then she didn't have a baby with the wrong guy, and now that she doesn't need either guy, she can't have a baby at all. I like that they left her conflicted about that; on the one hand, she definitely wanted a kid, but on the other hand, as Naomi said, a baby wouldn't necessarily have been the best path to happiness.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the talking elevator. The revelation that the voice was just Tilly the security guard getting her jollies was a little disappointing (though, really, what were the other options?). But I couldn't help thinking that if Seattle Grace's elevator had a security camera, many problems might have been prevented (ahem, George and Izzie).
The show had some over-the-top sitcommy elements but also some funny lines, most of them Addison's. And I guess that's not surprising; Addison is the character the writers know best at this point. Of the new doctors, I thought Violet was the weakest; Naomi and Sam, on the other hand, seemed like they could become rich characters.
And yes, of course, it was a little too convenient that Addison would get a medical case on her first day in LA, and it was a little too perfect that their OB/GYN had just left. But pilots are like that; they're contrived and silly, and they rarely show the best a show can offer. The most important thing is that there's potential for the show to become more, and I saw that here. What about you?
Photos copyright 2007 ABC, Inc.