For this very-special DVDTalk review of the ninth season of Grey's Anatomy, I'm turning over the reins to the only person in my house who watches the show, my wife Nicole. She'll be taking it from here.
In 10 Words or Less
The doctors are back, but a bit different
Loves: Medical drama, the "MerDer" dynamic, soap operas
Likes: Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh
Dislikes: Woe-is-me attitudes
Hates: Missing Lexie and Mark
The Story So Far...
ABC's take on ER, St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope, but way better! Since Grey's Anatomy's beginning, nine years ago, we've been witness to life's ups and downs, lefts and rights, of a beloved group of doctors from Seattle Grace Hospital. Over the years, the hospital name has evolved along with the characters. When we first meet the cast, they are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed interns, ready to take on the operating rooms of Seattle Grace Hospital. With the guidance of Dr. Richard Webber, better known as the Chief and Dr. Bailey, a hard-ass resident working to teach this newbie group of doctors what it really takes to make it, we watch each grow in a way that will change who they are and what type of doctor they will become forever. They show heart, dedication, pompousness,ignorance and, for kicks, no one can keep there freaking pants on. The series has been released, one season per year, for the past eight years, and DVDTalk has reviews of several of the sets.
If the characters below are unfamiliar, you should probably go back and check out our previous reviews. Like any soap opera, there's a lot of history here and trying to catch everyone up is a pointless endeavor.
We've watched the "MerDer" pairing (Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey) hit highs and lows over the past eight seasons, but this time around their relationship is tested to the limits and the happiness of their family hangs in limbo. How could the Prom King and Queen not end up with the baby they've longed for? It's awkward to see our favorite couple not get along at the end of a 60-minute episode, but once again, Meredith being Meredith, choses to go against the grain and, though with good intentions of helping Adele, Richard's ailing alzheimer afflicted wife, she comprises the integrity of Derek's Alzheimer trials. Owen (Kevin McKidd) and Christina (Sandra Owen), who left the group and headed to Minnesota, continue to ride the rollercoaster of emotion. You wait each time they're together on-scene for her to finally just give in to happiness with Owen, but the pot continues to simmer.
For Callie (Sara Ramirez), Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) and Mark (Eric Dane), life as one big happy family hasn't been easy. But over time, the relationship between Mark and Arizona begins to blossom, so much so, it makes Callie's life miserable, but in the end, their love for their daughter Sophia puts any and all issues aside. If only it could happened sooner rather than later. Teddy, or "G.I. Jane" as she's been labeled, Owen's BFF from back in the day, loses Henry, the love of her life, who can not be saved by Christina, not knowing the covered patient on her table is Henry. For the Chief, it's a heart-wrenching season. The love of his life, Adele, is slowly succumbing to her disease.
Among the standout episodes this season has to be "Going, Going, Gone", in which the survivors of the plane crash are faced with yet another blow.. As they cope with yet another impending loss, each character explores their relationships, via flashback, leading up to the 5:00 deadline for one of their own. Aside from last season's finale and the moment that Lexie died, this has to be the most heart-wrenching scene in the show's recent history, powered by the format of the episode and an overall great job by everyone involved. As someone with young a child, another highlight of the season was, "Can't Fight This Feeling", in which a mother fights to save her sick child. The old adage, "a mother knows her child best", holds true in this episode as her determination is all her child has going for him.
One again, series creator Shonda Rhimes was able to capture the viewers' attention and engross them in the daily dramas and traumas of Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital, or should I say Grey Sloan Hospital, as you'll see further into the season. No one saw it coming or could have expected that heartthrob Mark Sloan or the bubbly, ambitious Lexie Grey would be gone right before our eyes. The progression of this season, has once again padded the, "I love you, I love her, I love him, I love me" feel that has coated the halls of this way-too-perfect hospital since 2005. We've seen ferry crashes, building collapses, shootings and more over the past nine seasons, but never has 90% of the cast dropped from the sky in one flash of fate, as was the case in the cliffhanger that ended season eight.
This was a season, that amongst my girlfriends is called "the phoenix." What rose from the ashes of that devastating plane crash, were the same characters with new personas. I'll be honest, after eight seasons, we all know that "MerDer" is gonna make it and live that happily-ever-after life, one way or another. Christina is a breed all to herself and I admire her fight. The, "You are my person, you will always be my person" relationship shared between Meredith and Christina is what I think holds every episode together. There's always something, big or small that makes you want to be them.
Compared to previous season's, Arizona and Callie, Seattle's resident alternative couple, had a season that made for a most extreme amusement rides. The question, "Why the hell does Callie put up with Arizona's crazy", was asked time and time again. But as Grey's has taught its fans for years, love always prevails. However, the loss of Lexie and Mark was devastating. After all this time, this was supposed to be their year to find each other all over again, but in the end, Shonda Rhimes delivered, in a way that to this day, still makes me tear up thinking about it. Alex and Owen and Richard all pretty much floated through this season. Side characters April and Jackson just got overplayed, and the new interns were like a pre-school of whiners. In all honesty, that's how the show started, and look where there are now.
The 24 episodes in this collection arrive on 6 DVDs in a clear standard-width case with two flip trays, along with an episode guide on the reverse of the cover art. A foil-embossed slipcover repeats the cover art. The discs feature animated anamorphic widescreen menus with options to play all the episodes, select a show, adjust the set-up and check out bonus features (on disc six.) There are English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai and Korean (?) subtitles, but no audio options or closed captioning.
On a side note, the quality of the manufacturing of this set is questionable, as some of the disc art is misaligned and one of the discs had some trouble playing in a few of my machines.
After watching this show in high definition each week, these discs are a bit of a let-down. The image is often nowhere as sharp, lacking in detail, though these problems aren't consistent. It could be the way the show is shot (maybe the old hazy soap opera style) but since you can sometimes pick out individual hairs, it seems wrong. Every now and then, some banding occurs in the backgrounds, and you can see some pixelation in the image,
The audio, available in Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, is nice and clear, with no issues with distortion, though it's not the most exciting sound, kicking in mainly during the use of the soundtrack. Usually with surround, I notice activity in the speakers on the side and in the back, but there wasn't much here.
Things get moving with "Happy Trails with Jim Pickens Jr." (13:08) a very in-depth and enjoyable glimpse into the other side of Dr. Richard Webber. For fans of Grey's, he is known for his love and passion of medicine and his doctors. For fans of Jim Pickens Jr, he's known mainly for his love of what he calls, "the western life." Both on-screen and off, Jim Pickens Jr. is recognized for helping others and giving back where he can. Along with his wife, he's set up several charity foundations to help at-risk children, raising money along the way from charity roping events.
In "The Long Road Home" (15:03), Jessica Capshaw, with her cheery, chipper, "I love to help babies" attitude on the show, was asked this season to become the ,"woe is me, I'm so helpless, you cut my leg off" character, that in a way really put a damper on the first several episodes. Few fully-capable actors are asked to suddenly play someone with a severe physical disability. Jessica was successful in showing the viewers the stages of grief, denial and anger that often follow a person after such a tragedy. Of all the doctors, Arizona is the only one who never seeks professional counseling in dealing with what happened that fateful night when all hell broke loose on their way to Boise. It was a daunting task for Rhimes to ask of an actor.
There are 19 deleted scenes (13:04) included in this set, with the episode indicated (a play-all option is available.) This part of the DVD was actually quite boring. Each snippet of a particular deleted scene was simply slightly alternate takes of dialogue in the episode, ranging from 11 seconds to 2:17. Nothing added anything to the show.
The final extra is "In Stitches: Outtakes" (2:15), where we see what every actor, on every television show, movie set or broadway stage goes through on a regular basis. Someone forgets their lines, someone sneezes, a prop is knocked over...we've all seen it before and we'll all see them again.
The Bottom Line
Like any soap opera, things don't change that much on Grey's Anatomy, however the show tried a few new things, but as always, they are rooted in tragedy. By the end of the season though, these are still the characters we've followed for eight years, and we'll more than likely stick with them until it's over. This set offers a better season overall than we've seen in a while, though the quality doesn't hold up compared to how the show looks in HD, and the extras are a mix of interesting and mundane. For fans, it's worth adding to your collection, so you can revisit old friends every now and then.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.