Despite ratings that have eroded a bit over time (the opening of this ninth season were an improvement over the prior season, but by the end of the season the finale was the least viewed finale in the show's history), "Grey's Anatomy" still remains something of a core series for ABC. The network - like NBC - has had something of a mixed track record in recent years, including the high-profile "Last Resort" and the delightful but low-rated "Happy Endings" and "Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23". ABC also hosted the medical dramedy "Scrubs" after it left NBC, but it never took off after the the show's NBC finale, which I think remains one of the most touching finales in recent memory.
"Grey's" has now gone on for 9 seasons (renewed for number 10), despite ratings (although I question whether that's quality as much as the possibility that viewer interest in the genre is waning) and critical praise that has started to slump a bit. The series has even outlived its reasonably enjoyable little spin-off, "Private Practice". Watching the ninth season of "Grey's", viewers are presented with a series that, while maybe not as popular as it was at its heights (although the focus has thankfully moved from the McStupid pet names popular culture gave its characters and that sort of soapiness), is still surprising viewers and coming up with compelling story lines instead of coasting on its previous record.
The season opens with the characters trying to cope with the plane crash that happened at the end of last season, which took the life of Lexi Grey (Chyler Leigh) and left the characters traumatized. Additionally, the aftermath of the incident continues into the early part of the season, with one of the characters in serious condition not making it. Derek (Patrick Dempsey) has also sustained a very serious injury to his hand and thinks that has future in medicine is looking to need a serious change until his sister (the underrated Neve Campbell, who it's nice to see again) is able to donate a nerve to repair Derek's hand.
Elsewhere, Meredith and Derek finally have success at having a child, despite being told that they were not capable of having one. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) loses a leg after her injuries from the plane crash become infected. The hospital also faces turmoil when it decides to sue over the plane crash and having the tables turned when the insurance company declines to pay because of a loophole. The result sees the hospital turned upside down, managing to not be taken over by a hospital corporation.
The series may not have the focus of pop culture like it once did, but the series still manages to churn out solid episodes, with strong writing and excellent performances. It's too bad that the season finale was one of the least watched, as "Perfect Storm" is an emotional, powerful episode that sees the characters dealing with serious obstacles and risks as a giant storm passes through. Other highlights include "Hard Bargain" (the group tries to band together to figure out if they want to proceed with buying the hospital), "Beautiful Doom" (Cristina returns to Seattle after Dr Thomas has a heart attack during an operation) and "The End is the Beginning is the End" (the hospital finds out that the survivors of the plane crash are awarded $15M each, but the tables soon turn.)
As noted earlier, the series has moved away from "McSteamy" and "McDreamy" soap opera that I thought it occasionally found itself in and the result is a series that feels even deeper and richer with a greater connection to the characters. The series has also continued to provide a reasonably good balance between interpersonal drama between the characters and hospital/medical drama.
I've never been among the show's hardcore followers, but I actually returned to the series and found myself appreciating it more in some regards than I did when watching it early on.
• Season 9
173 9-01 27/Sep/12 Going, Going, Gone
174 9-02 04/Oct/12 Remember the Time
175 9-03 18/Oct/12 Love the One You're With
176 9-04 25/Oct/12 I Saw Her Standing There
177 9-05 08/Nov/12 Beautiful Doom
178 9-06 15/Nov/12 Second Opinion
179 9-07 29/Nov/12 I Was Made For Lovin' You
180 9-08 06/Dec/12 Love Turns You Upside Down
181 9-09 13/Dec/12 Run, Baby, Run
182 9-10 10/Jan/13 Things We Said Today
183 9-11 17/Jan/13 The End is the Beginning is the End
184 9-12 24/Jan/13 Walking on a Dream
185 9-13 31/Jan/13 Bad Blood
186 9-14 07/Feb/13 The Face Of Change
187 9-15 14/Feb/13 Hard Bargain
188 9-16 21/Feb/13 This Is Why We Fight
189 9-17 14/Mar/13 Transplant Wasteland
190 9-18 21/Mar/13 Idle Hands
191 9-19 28/Mar/13 Can't Fight This Feeling
192 9-20 04/Apr/13 She's Killing Me
193 9-21 25/Apr/13 Sleeping Monster
194 9-22 02/May/13 Do You Believe in Magic
195 9-23 09/May/13 Readiness is All
196 9-24 16/May/13 Perfect Storm
Video: The series is again presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and looks fine, if unremarkable. Sharpness and detail are acceptable, as while the picture appeared reasonably detailed and crisp, it lacked a certain level of clarity and fine detail. No edge enhancement was spotted, but a little bit of artifacting was seen. Colors look on the cool side, although by intent.
Audio: "Grey's Anatomy" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The presentation generally remains forward-oriented, as one would expect from a drama like this. Still, surrounds occasionally offer some ambience and other tidbits. Audio quality was certainly satisfactory, with crisp dialogue, music and sound effects.
Extras:: Not a whole lot. We get "The Long Road Home", a short promotional documentary focusing on actress Jessica Capshaw and adapting to the challenges of portraying a character who lost a limb. There's also a short piece on actor Jim Pickens, a set of deleted scenes and outtakes.
Final Thoughts: "Grey's" remains surprisingly satisfying in its latest go-around, with a number of strong episodes and fine performances. The ratings may have slowed and the spotlight may have moved on, but the series is still clicking. The DVD offers satisfactory video, fine audio and a few minor extras. Recommended for fans.