|Grey's Anatomy: Season Three (2006)
Starring: Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, T.R. Knight, Chandra Wilson, James Pickens Jr., Isaiah Washington, Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane, Kate Walsh, Sara Ramirez
The junior year of ABC’s hit medical drama represented a major dropping off point in terms of quality, but while the onscreen action was becoming overly melodramatic, the behind-the-scenes drama was just beginning to heat up. As you probably know by now, the third season of “Grey’s Anatomy” will forever go down as Isaiah Washington’s Big Gay Farewell. Of course, it wasn’t known at the time that Washington’s adieu would be coming so fast on the heels of his surprisingly flat apology to co-star T.R. Knight, but his continued participation in the show proved to be a much bigger distraction than originally imagined, and eventually led to the worst season of the series thus far.
It’s the last year of internships for the Seattle Grace gang, and when they’re not busy preparing for the biggest test of their careers, they’re dealing with some pretty heavy stuff – both in and out of the hospital. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek (Patrick Dempsey) are finally together; Christina (Sandra Oh) helps Burke (Washington) in his recovery; Izzie (Katherine Heigl) learns to cope with the death of Denny (guest star Jeffrey Dean Morgan); George (Knight) finds an unlikely life mate in Callie (Sara Torres); and Karev (Justin Chambers) falls for a Jane Doe. If it sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, and that doesn’t even include the race for the new Chief of Surgery position; Addison’s (Kate Walsh) short fling with Karev; the Izzie-George-Callie love triangle; or any of the big two-part events like the death of George’s father, the Sweeps Week ferry crash, and Christina and Burke’s will-they-won’t-they wedding.
While “Grey’s Anatomy” has always been known for pushing the limit in terms of ridiculous storytelling, the third season takes things too far, resulting in a chaotic mess of no less than 10 different relationships, the departure of one of the show’s best characters, and more cheese than an average helping of your favorite daytime soap. Everything there was to love about the show has now been overshadowed with childish bickering and stale subplots we’ve all seen before. The quality of writing has also gone drastically downhill since its debut in 2005, and it’s likely because creator Shonda Rhimes is running out of good ideas. This is a point I recently made in my review for “Friday Night Lights,” and it seems to be occurring in a lot of new shows that are being pressured by the networks to deliver solid freshman seasons.
This isn’t the first time a show has been under the gun to perform, however, and in the case of “Grey’s Anatomy,” it’s hardly an excuse worth using. We know the writing staff is talented, so why even bother with an episode like “Some Kind of Miracle,” the follow-up to the ferry crash two-parter that begs the audience to fear for Meredith’s life. We know Meredith isn’t going to die – the show’s named after her. And if she did, well, they’d probably lose a large chunk of their audience. Of course, that may very well happen with Kate Walsh leaving to star in her very own spin-off (“Private Practice”), but at least in that case it’ll be an even trade. Still, it’s a bit depressing to see one of the few “normal” characters leaving after only one year, but at least she’ll no longer be caught up in the high schoolish atmosphere of Seattle Grace. And neither should you. “Grey’s Anatomy” has clearly run its course as the It show on television, and until it cleans up its act, you’re free to relish in all of the other new shows debuting this fall.
Special Features: The seven-disc box set features more of the same from Buena Vista, including deleted scenes, outtakes and uncut/extended versions of select episodes. In “Making Rounds with Patrick Dempsey,” the co-star displays his love for racing cars, “Shades of Grey” features Ellen Pompeo in a lifeless interview about her time on the show, and in “Good Medicine,” the cast members discuss their favorite scenes. Unfortunately, none of it really stacks up – especially the make-up featurette “Prescription for Success,” which shows guest star Elizabeth Reaser in a whole lot of make-up, but never really explains how it was applied.