Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nobody knows where they might end up

I never thought I, the largest televisionphile on the planet, would say what I am about to say, but I am: thank goodness for the Writers' Strike. Sure, it deprived us of our favorite shows (Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy) for a few months, and delayed some shows until autumn (Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money) but goddamn if it didn't kick everyone's asses back into shape just a little. I say this because I have been happily tickled by tonight's Grey's Anatomy season finale. For once.

It is not secret that GA has been sagging quite a bit. The sharp, witty, contemporary dramedy it was in the first two seasons lost a lot of steam going into the third; some say it jumped the shark, others say it was self-destructive, but I just think they got too caught up in the hype. One of the good things about Grey's, and this was admitted by series creator, head writer and executive producer Shonda Rhimes, was that it wasn't a conventional medical drama. It had a bubblegum quality that was quite refreshing and new to television. But too soon it got serious. The opening sequence was cut, the story lines got heavier, the wit was lost and there was nothing exciting about it anymore. 

One of the things that was really wrong with the show, and this was always there but became apparent in the last few seasons with the introduction of new characters, was the lack of a central voice. It seems discordant to have a "main character", Meredith Grey, narrating the show when she had just about as much screen time as every single other character. Yes, GA has an amazing ensemble cast, but without the focus on Meredith, it got...well...schizo. There was too much happening and you could barely care anymore about her or her on-again-off-again-on-again-off-againon-again-off-again relationship with McDreamy (who's epithet hasn't been uttered much since season 2). It got tiring. It was like Shonda just scooted her over to the side with a horribly unimaginative and frustratingly indecisive relationship story line to concentrate on everyone else.

But tonight proved different. Over the course of this little mini-season, the focus has been on Meredith, as well as the other characters, and a quality, fully-developed story line about a viral cocktail and a therapist gave depth and focus to the character and brought her and McDreamy back together. For good. And, the show balanced the perfect combo of drama and comedy. It didn't end with some dreadfully trite and soapy scene where somebody had to choose somebody else. Those kinds of season finales have no integrity; the kind of cliffhanger one needs when writing a television show should be one that is not resolved in the first scene of the next season; it should instead set up future story lines to fill in the entire season. A well-formulated, well written and well directed show is better than one with twists and turns. 

Brava, Shonda Rhimes. Now let's ditch Private Practice, bring back Addison, have more cute gay boys kissing in hospital beds and our baby will be revived.     

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