ABC’s Thursday-night medical drama Grey’s Anatomy is due to have a baby in the form of a spin-off — tentatively, its name is Private Practice. Last night, the network performed a virtual primetime Cesarean section, carefully pulling the spin-off from the womb of a hit. The special two-hour procedure was a backdoor pilot. But, because of high Nielson Rankings, and Golden Globes and Emmys, any child of Grey’s will likely be given a permanent home by the network, on the network — no matter what. The show — of which even Bill Clinton is a huge fan, according to Hollywood Insider — is just too successful for a spin-off to be stopped.
DID YOU SAY SOMETHING? No, that was just the lame-ass talking elevator.
Grey’s Anatomy initially attracted viewers with her sentimental packaging and her strong multiracial cast, including budding film actresses Ellen Pompeo (Old School) as Meredith Grey, and Sandra Oh (Sideways), as Christina Yang. Creator Shonda Rhimes then conceived a story-line with enough mood and chemistry to ignite even seemingly downright corny catchphrases, such as “McDreamy,” and “seriously.” And then, to the wonder of Season One’s 18.5 million viewers, ’80s film star Patrick Dempsey morphed into neurosurgeon Dr. Shepherd/ McDreamy over a one-night stand with the protagonist. So ensued an on-again-off-again affair between characters Dr. Shepherd and Meredith Grey that has survived three seasons, and the return of an adulterous, siren wife — cue, Addison Forbes Montgomery-Shepherd (Kate Walsh). Even mistress Meredith liked Addison, a formidable NeonatalSurgeon/OBGYN /Specialist in maternal fetal medicine/medical genetics fellow.
Addison was a character to respect.
So, it came as no surprise, really, that ABC picked this doctor, with her creamy complexion and long, red hair, to knock-up its primetime success. Grey’s viewers know that creator Shonda Rhimes is seriously unafraid of taking risks: the third season has managed suicide, the afterlife, and a penis fish, to name a few. The writing and the characters have proved dynamic enough to support the stuff. The show’s stayed entertaining through change.
Which was the theme of last night’s backdoor pilot. Addison Forbes Montgomery hops into a red convertible, red hair blowing in the wind and in her face, and drives from Grey’s Seattle Grace, to Private Practice’s Los Angeles medical co-op, which resembles less a hospital and more a medical-themed terra cotta-colored Whole Foods.
Once there, the story-line revolves around backstory and slapstick banter. Addison makes the trip to see best friend and fertility expert Naomi (Merrin Dungey), recently divorced from Sam (Taye Diggs). Turns out, our resident Seattle Grace character wants to have a baby. But, amidst introductions to campy characters — an online dating addict, a cliché of a depressed psychiatrist, a goofy New Age serial monogamist, and a surfer who looks all of eighteen and daftly quotes Simon and Garfunkle’s “Mrs. Robinson”— Addison finds out she’s “barren.” Serious stuff, but the segments also featured a talking elevator and fart jokes.
Hope is not lost, though… for Addison, at least. The handsome, but effeminate, middle-aged serial monogamist kisses her (with tongue, he tells us, so she can feel it) to let her know she’s not really barren. And in a Sex in the City rip-off, he also performs acupuncture on her face (a technique which has increased fertility in some off-screen practices).