Thursday, February 19, 2009

Izzie Stevens, it Really is Time to Go....

I have a confession to make. I'm starting to like Lexie Grey and Mark Sloane as a couple. I admit, in the beginning, I thought it was a gimmick, just another inappropriate pairing to try to bring ratings.

For weeks, I thought it was contrived and now, a few weeks later, I'm starting to think it could work. I'm starting to think that Lexie in all her sweet neurosis is the calmness that Mark Sloane, Dr. McSteamy himself, needs in order to stop being a cliche and start being a real man.

I'm not sure I like my change of heart. It could mean that I might have to doubt some of my earlier opinions on Grey's Anatomy. For example, I might rethink that Denny coming back from the dead and being the Most Smugly Annoying Ghost Ever was a good idea after all. I might think that maybe, just maybe, I misunderstood Izzie Stevens, that her do-good but act-stupid nature was actually compelling rather than groan-worthy annoyance. I might start thinking that it's ok that George O'Malley doesn't do much at Seattle Grace anymore.

However, I think I'm safe for now. I know it sounds mean but I'm actually hoping beyond hope that the rumours behind the scenes are true, that Katherine Heigl is going to be let out of her contract as she's been wanting for a while now. I think Grey's would be the better for it. It's obvious that Katherine thinks she's better than TV, that she believes her Oscar is waiting. Unfortunately, what she doesn't seem to realize is that any young female actress in Hollywood could play the roles she's choosing. Seriously, think about "27 Dresses". Now, replace Katherine Heigl with, say, Anne Hathaway, Reese Witherspoon, Isla Fisher....not much different, huh?

Seriously, I think Grey's needs to lose Izzie. It's time. She's a whiny pain who does nothing but complain and try to get other people to solve her problems. She judges others for the same things she, herself, does on a regular basis. She's been relagated to the clinic, rarely does she interact with Alex, Meredith, Christina or even George anymore. She somehow ended up with ALL of the interns (who knows how and why that happened) and she's now realizing she's dying of some as-of-yet undiagnosed condition.

I should feel sorry for her but I don't. I feel sorry for Alex who might have be losing the first women he's really let himself love. I feel sorry for George who could be losing his best friend, the inevitable confused relationship that male/female friends inevitably explore. I feel sorry for Meredith who has tried to stop and be friends with Izzie even though Dr. Stevens has ignored her, embarrassed her, exploited her and used her.

Yet there's little sorrow for Izzie herself.

Aside from Izzie, tonight's episode was better. I think it was better because I realized that I didn't have to watch Private Practice too. The storyline was resolved on Grey's and Addison Montgomery got to go back to Los Angeles to the stereotypical new-agey lifestyle that Southern Californian's exude and escape the misery of Derek Shepherd.

And he has misery. Poor Derek. He lost a lot of patients on his clinical trial and, even though, in the end, he succeeded, he can't forget those deaths he caused in trying to be the best, to be better than a man, to be a god. He tried so hard to save his patient tonight, even trying to save her life though she'd live as a vegetable, a near-monster, unrecognizable to anyone who'd ever known her. In the end, he lost his fight. He's not used to that. He's a broken man, now a mere mortal when before, he'd been a god, the best of the best.

I'm just glad he has Meredith. She's come so far over the past couple of years. Though she's still neurotic enough to be bothered by Derek working with his ex-wife, she's now mature enough to be there for him, to recognize that now, she's the one he listens to, the one who can pull him out of his own mind and bring him back to earth.

And, when he crashes, she's there to catch him, to bandage his wounds and give him a drink and just hold him, to let him know it's ok to just be a man. Meredith has matured over the past seasons and Grey's is the better for it.

I can't say there aren't flaws in the show. I mean, Izzie IS still on the show. I wasn't sure about Dr. Hunt and Christina but these last episodes have shown that they need each other. His hardness brings out her softness and, for Christina Yang, that's definitely an admirable feat.

I'm still not sure about Bailey going to Pediatrics. I like the idea of her becoming Chief some day. Yet she wants it and, maybe, it'll work. I'm also still not sure about Callie; one minutes she's experimenting with being bi-sexual and the next, she's fully gay. I think Callie needs to focus on medicine for a while, to let herself figure out who she is instead of jumping from relationship to relationship.

And Sloane and Lexie....they're swaying me. Ever since she broke his penis, she's been good for him, slowing him down and making him realize that there's more to life than sex. She's a good fit for him as long as she doesn't tame him completely. Grey's wouldn't be Grey's without a little McSteamy. Just because he's experimenting with being tamed doesn't mean he's completely ready.

And while the show continues to lose me one minute and hook me the next, I still live in hope that'll it'll find its footing again. I just hope it doesn't mean I have to keep watching Private Practice because, seriously, I can't...I've tried, oh, I've tried. And I can't. Not for Piz, not for Taye Diggs and not even for Addison Montgomery. No more crossover 'events'. Please.

An Ode to Benjamin Linus

I like dark characters. You've probably got that from reading my Dexter posts. I have a fondness for the complicated and shadowy non-black-and-white world. I like that while Dexter Morgan does what is regarded as wrong and inherantly evil by taking human lives, his moral code complicates matters and turns it into an act of heroism, ridding the world of the rubbish that preys on it.

This is probably why I'm enamoured with Benjamin Linus from Lost. I have a confession; I was a fickle viewer back in Season 3. I quit Lost, cast it aside like an old boyfriend that no longer fit me. I don't remember where exactly I gave it up but the show was starting to wear on me and I couldn't be bothered anymore. My giving it up also can be blamed on J.J. Abrams. Since he had helped create the show and it was going into inevitable decline, i assumed it was going to go the way of all J.J. Abrams shows- a great premise, exciting action and then a complete and utter jaunt into the ridiculous that took away from everything I'd originally loved about the show*

(*For a prime example, see Alias)

Yet then came the writer's strike and there was nothing on. I had friends who said that season 3 of Lost had the coolest ending ever. So I Netflixed the rest of the season from the point at which I'd quit.

And I realized then that I shouldn't have given it up. Realizing that the flashback was a flashforward was genius.

Since then, my admiration for the show has grown. Every moment is carefully choreographed like an elaborate dance, weaving in and out of mythologies, creating intricate connections between all of the characters in some way or another. It's amazing, compelling TV.

For me, every week, though, it's Ben Linus who has me truly hooked. He's a perfect villain, the Keyser Soze of the small screen, complicated, manipulative and so full of lies that it's impossible to know when he's telling the truth.

I love him for that. The actor, Michael Emerson, plays him with brilliance; he's both creepy and compelling. I don't want him to be the bad guy because I don't want him to lose. How's that for screwy thinking? The villain always loses at the end of every heroic tale. It's hard to say if Ben is really the true villain of Lost or if he's just an ambassador. Yet most of the time, especially to the Oceanic Six, he is the villain. He's a chessplayer moving all of his pieces exactly where he wants them even though even Ben may not know what the endgame is. He never misses a beat. One of my favourite scenes is where he gets transported off the island into Tunisia. He's instantly assailed by would-be attackers. Ben doesn't miss a beat, deftly beating the crap out of the men with his telescopic beating-rod (sorry, I don't know the technical name for it). He then walks into a hotel as though that happens every day. Who knows, for Ben, it probably does.

Every week, we learn more about the Island, more about the characters. I love that the stakes are raised, everything is changing all the time. The time travel is brilliance and being executed perfectly, revealing the truth about events that happened clear back in Season 1, events that, on any other show, would have been forgotten, abandoned in hopes of a more sensational plot. Not with Lost, however. Lost is a show for the nerds of the world, the geeks who thrive on details that most people would miss. I confess, I'm one of them. I live for the "holy crap!" moments that the show delivers every week. It's a puzzle and even though it seems as though we're getting closer to solving it, instead we're seeing that it's not just one puzzle but an artful weaving that goes on indefinitely.

At the heart of it is Ben. We still don't know if he's good or bad, not really. We know he lies but only at times because at other times, he's brutally honest. For example, a couple of weeks ago, Kate confronted Ben and accused him of trying to take Aaron away to manipulate her. Jack, not wanting to believe that even Ben could be that cruel, tries to defend him and, in response, Ben simply says, something along the lines of, "no, that was me." Cruel, blunt and precise, Ben never minces words. He can be snarky, particularly with John Locke. He always gets what he wants.

While this week's episode, "316" had a lot of unanswered questions, where is Aaron?, why is Jin in a Dharma jumpsuit driving a Dharma van?, why are Sayid and Hurley on the plane, the one question that I want to know is this: Benjamin, who did you kill and who dared beat you up this time?

There's only one and a half seasons left of Lost, the writer's endgame is moving forward. I hope that means Ben's is too, no matter how grisly and dark it gets. The darker Ben is revealed to be, the more compelling the show and the more I'm hooked on watching it. In a way, I can't wait for the end of the show, to see how it plays out.

On the other hand, I don't want it to ever end, the ride is too much fun. Especially when Ben is the driver.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

So...Exactly...What WAS the Point of the spinoff?

So, I'm currently watching the Private Practice/Grey's Anatomy crossover. It's the Private Practice half now. During the Grey's portion, I did, at least feel like I was interested. I mean, in spite of some horrid mistakes over the past two seasons, Grey's still continues to compell me.

I admit, when I sat down to watch the two hours of television, I did wonder if I'd have quitter's remorse towards Private Practice. I gave it up a few months ago and still remember the show, the characters and the reason that I quit in the first place.

Then I watched tonight's crossover and I realized that no, in fact, I did not miss this awful show.

I do miss Dr. Cooper, the unlucky-in-love pediatrician. But I don't actually miss Dr. Cooper, I miss Agent Kellerman from Prison Break, also played by Paul Adelstein. I miss Kellerman's ruthlessness, his backbone, his vicious sense of purpose. I do not, however, miss Dr. Cooper's drippy world of Oceanside Wellness.

I miss Addison Montgomery but not the Addison from Private Practice. I miss the Addison from Grey's Anatomy. Seeing her back at Seattle Grace again reminded me why I missed the old days of Grey's. These days, the hallways are filled with too much drama that seems so farfetched, it's hard to relate. Tonight, I hated watching Meredith, who has come so far over the past season, who has confronted her demons and named them, watch the love of her life morph into a different man, a man she doesn't know.

Because tonight, Derek became a character on Private Practice and that was ugly. I don't care that he wrote a song for Addison for their wedding. I don't care that his oldest, dearest friends are suddenly back in his life. I like Derek with Meredith. I like the Derek who remains steadfastedly a part of Seattle Grace, not the one who's caught in the half-life between Oceanside Wellness and the world we've seen him occupy for the past four years.

Mostly, I confess, I hate that I'm being suckered into watching the insipidly annoying characters of Private Practice. I want to like them....but I can't. I find myself wondering how Dr. Charlotte can have such terrible hair. I wonder how Taye Diggs can pick such bad roles (Kevin Hill, anyone?) and still remain attractive. I wonder how Tim Daly can be so bland. Then Dell, the midwife-receptionist-whatever-he-is-these-days, wanders on screen and suddenly I find myself missing Veronica Mars with a longing that only the best TV can fulfill.

I can't complain, really. At times, Grey's still fulfills that longing. These days, Lost is blowing me away with its intricate genius. I'm watching 24 and enjoying Jack Bauer's breathless sense of action for the first time in several seasons. And tomorrow, I have the first episode of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse to look forward to. So there is good TV to watch. I'm just not watching it at the moment, no matter how much they try to throw Alex Karev, Derek Shepard or Dr. Bailey at us during an episode of Private Practice. I mean, seriously, isn't the whole reason Addison left in the first place was to try something new?

Clearly, if that something new has to rely on the something old to get some ratings, something is wrong. I gave Private Practice a fair shake, a season and a half of watching. Yet it annoyed me and I quit. Now I'm watching it for the first time in weeks just because it's gone back to the world that gave it life in the first place.

It's like trying to take a cutting from a plant. Sometimes, it can thrive on its own and grow into something unique, something different. Yet sometimes that cutting can't survive on its own, it has to go back to its source to survive and renew it.

And that is where we are with Private Practice. It was a noble experiment but it just didn't work. It's time to either take the transplant back to its roots or put it out of its misery. Addison is a strong character but she's not enough to support a dying show. She needs to go back to Seattle Grace. She can take the place of Izzie and George, if the rumours are true that Katherine Heigl and T.R Knight are really leaving. I think Grey's would be better for it. If not, at least the 10 p.m. slot behind Grey's could be filled with something new.

I gave Private Practice a fair shot. I even tried tonight but when I'm spending the hour blogging instead of watching, you know something's wrong. I hate this Archer character. He's annoying. I think I'm supposed to, actually. Yet when he's just one of a roster of annoying characters, it's nothing special.

Also, I hate being manipulated in having to watch a show because otherwise, a story is not complete. Seriously, Private Practice, if you need Grey's Anatomy to give you life, it's time to let go. Seriously. Seriously.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

But I Don't WANT to Watch "Private Practice"!

I apologize for not having any new posts for a while. I thought about blogging about Lost but there are far better, far more loyal bloggers who already cover that. I could have covered the super-bizarro dream I had last night in which I was on a Lost-esque island that turned out to have strange 'stations' which were more like something out of Stephen King's The Waste Lands than Lost. The same dream also featured Weevil, a character from Veronica Mars trying to attack Logan Echolls (also from Veronica Mars, lately of Moonlight) with Heroes' Ando/Elle powers of super electricical impulses and then being sucked onto the Lost-esque isle in order to help solve the mysteries. I mean, this is a TV blog and wow, my subconscious did seem to tell me that maybe I watch too much TV.

However, rather than expose you to the minutae of my addled brain, I thought I'd wait until this week's Grey's Anatomy since that seems to be the main theme of this blog lately.

On a side note, I read a spoiler/article that mentioned that Denny is NOT 'dead' as I had celebrated in the last blog but will appear until March. I'm ignoring that because tonight's episode had no Denny and no Denny is as good as Dead-Denny but not the haunting-Izzie-Dead-Denny but the good Dead-Denny who died at the end of Season 2. You know the Denny I mean, the charming one who made you sad when they played "Chasing Cars" and saw Izzie in her prom dress.

I digress. Onto tonight's episode. It wasn't bad, actually. Especially in light of some of the more recent episodes. I will say that until next week, I'm choosing NOT to acknowledge the big Private Practice/Grey's Anatomy crossover. It happened at the very, very end of this week's Grey's and one minute into Private Practice when the "Fourteen Hours Earlier" flashed across my screen, I realized that this week's PP was probably going to do something very similar and involve Grey's at the very last minute. Thus, I refuse to watch it. I already blogged about how I gave up watching that show. I don't care how much you try to tie Addison back into Grey's; if she comes with that super-sexed, super-annoying, super-smarmy lot from L.A., I'm not watching until I have to. For now, I'm going to try to skip the PP part of the crossover and try to stick solely to Grey's. It'll probably be a bit like trying to eat vegetable soup and picking out everything but the carrots but still, I'll try it.

Yet tonight episode of Grey's had some good moments. I'm so relieved that Christina and Meredith are friends again. I'm loving that Meredith is treating Lexie almost like a sister rather than an abhorred stranger. I'm enjoying that Christina is giving Dr. Hunt a chance, even if he is a little spazzo and very, very much Dr. McPTSD at the moment. I like that Derek is going to propose although I hate that the uber-dramatic PP/Grey's crossover "event" is getting in the way.

The things I'm not sure about is Callie and Arizona, the 'new' pediatrician. See, I though Callie wasn't sure she WAS gay. I thought Callie had decided she would never be gay in the way that Erica Hahn realized she was. I thought Erica Hahn left the show because ABC decided that the gay relationship was too much. Now, suddenly, Callie is gay. And she has a new love interest. I'm not sure where this is coming from. I'm not against gay relationships and actually, I quite like Arizona. I'm just confused, like I'm sure so many other viewers are as to why Erica got left behind, inexplicably and permanently in the allegorical parking lot of Seattle Grace and now, suddenly, it's ok for Callie to keep having flings with other women. I actually liked Hahn. I thought she was growing as a character but...whatever. I'll follow this storyline for now and hope that it grows and becomes something and isn't another excuse for Callie to be bitter and hurt by the cards that Shonda Rhimes deals her.

I'm also not sure about Bailey's newfound aptitude for pediatric surgery. I think that's a bad idea. Yes, she's good with kids but she gets WAY too emotionally involved and that's dangerous. She became much less Bailey and far more Izzie during the storyline with Jackson, the kid who was dying for the past three weeks. I don't like seeing Bailey falter and become unsure; I like my Bailey confident and secure. I think she should stick with General Surgery. It suits her.

And then there's Izzie. Now that Denny's 'gone', I thought she'd be better. Instead, she wastes hundreds, even thousands, of dollars having the interns run tests on her under the guise that she's teaching them because she knows she's sick but doesn't want to admit it. Once more, Izzie proves to be a financial drain on Seattle Grace and a drain on my patience.

Of course, she did get a lot more screen time than George who made a cameo this week. Yes, readers, George O'Malley appeared long enough to provoke our thought processes to respond: "Oh, hey, I forgot he worked here" and then he vanished. I like George. My advice to the Grey's powers-that-be, save George, lose Izzie. Not that they'll listen but I live in hope.

So, next week it looks like Addison's back, bringing her cronies from L.A. I know they're all friends with Derek so it'll probably make sense. I even think bringing Addie back to Seattle Grace makes sense. I just wish that would mean that her stint in Private Practice is over and she's realized that she belongs in the far more interesting world of Grey's Anatomy. However, I'll watch, hoping that Grey's will continue to make a come back into the world of good TV and finally leave behind the dangers of shark-jumping.

Because when Grey's is good, it is very, very good. It makes you count down until the next episode. It makes you compare people you know to characters on the show. It makes you smile when you remember quirky moments, sad when you recall the poignancy that stellar storylines can give you.

Yet when it's bad, it's scary. And when it's bad, it brings back Denny. And if he comes back, he'll probably tell Izzie: "I'm here for you". And we all know how Captain Monkeypants feels about that. It inspires anger and a tightly-gripped remote control. I've already worn off the writing below the buttons, don't make me break it too.

But this week had no Denny. And no Denny is good.

I live in hope.