"Private Practice" Pilot Recap (Spoilers)
TV Guide calls the first episode of ABC's much-anticipated "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off "Private Practice" (premieres September 26 at 9/8c) "sappy and silly" and suggests that the writers continue to work on the scripts. I was able to screen the first episode last night and these are my first impressions. Beware: major, and I mean major, spoilers ahead.
The episode opens with the scene you may have already seen as an official ABC sneak peek - Addison informs Richard Webber (special guest star James Pickens Jr.) of her decision to leave Seattle Grace.
Watching Addison (who is/was my favorite character on "Grey's Anatomy") speak with enthusiasm about leaving because she wants to begin new life in L.A. I couldn't help thinking: "No, Addison, the reason you want to leave is because ABC wants to milk "Grey's Anatomy" for all its worth." Oh, well. I hope I get over that. Besides, it's great to see Addison happy again.
And we're off to those sandy beaches of Santa Monica that always look better on television and Addison's Ally McBeal-style dance routine before her shocked new neighbor Sam (Taye Diggs).
The doctors at the OWG co-op are startled to hear Naomi (Audra McDonald) hired Addison. Furthermore, Tim Daly's Peter believes Addison may be a loon who has come all the way to L.A. just because of the great kiss they shared, hoping for more. Talk about Mr. Self-Centered.
Addison, on the other hand, is shocked Naomi didn't share the news of her arrival with the others. But, Naomi who is having difficulties dealing with her divorce from Sam and keeps stuffing herself with calories, needs her friend Addison by her side and says: "They'll get over it."
We have seen a lot of bizarre medical cases on "Grey's Anatomy," but there is always a great story behind. I wasn't too sure that was the case with the three medical stories we get to see in the pilot.
In the first case, a May-December couple asks for artificial insemination. The older gentleman who feels uneasy about "doing it in the cup" interrupts a noisy OWG discussion with what seem to be the sounds of a man giving himself pleasure.
But the man is actually having a stroke and dies. Despite his death, the young woman by his side wants his sperm. But, there's a shocker. The man was married and in the process of getting a divorce, and his wife comes onto the scene not only to stop his girlfriend from getting her husband's sperm, but also to tell the doctors she wants his sperm instead. In the end, both women give up.
The storyline introduces a new character, the Chief of Staff at a nearby hospital where the co-op send their patients for emergencies they are unable to treat by themselves. She clashes with Naomi and Sam on this one, as she'll often do in the future. In her opinion, the co-op uses disputable medical practices and she prefers to do things by the book.
The second medical case involves a young woman who is pregnant and comes to OWG with a furious father who apparently didn't know about the pregnancy until she went into labor. I would suppose he was exaggerating, since there is no way you can't know unless you're blind.
In any event, the storyline gives Addison the excitement of a McGyver style surgery, following her shock and disappointment when she found out she would have only 1 patient per day at the co-op. Plus, that cute receptionist Dell (Chris Lowell) gets to practice his, as he puts it, "midwifery skills."
The last case is about a mental patient who begins to count tiles at a local department store obstructing other customers. An ad with a little boy at the store triggered her memories of a son she lost. The story should have given Amy Brenneman and Paul Adelstein great material to work with. Sadly, there are many cringe-worthy and sappy moments instead.
Finally, Addison embarrasses herself when she says to everyone she is putting her foot down because she has had a lousy day and regardless of the outcome of their vote on whether or not Naomi was right to hire her, she is staying at OWG. Nevertheless, her speech is effective and Naomi concludes: "Welcome to OWG."
I did think the storylines leave a lot to be desired and the characters remained somewhat one-dimensional. However, according to TV Guide's ABC insiders, the 2nd episode of the show is a major improvement and since I am truly keeping my fingers crossed for the adorable Kate Walsh, I do hope the show gradually finds its audience.
Although I wouldn't go that far as to brand the episode hideous, I did think it paled in comparison with the sort of quality we got used to in the brilliant second season of its mega-hit mothership "Grey's Anatomy."