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ABC drama provides healthy dose of addiction

Observer Scene | Thursday, March 9, 2006

No need to call the paramedics – that warm feeling in your chest isn’t a heart attack. It’s the sensation of enjoyment induced by season one of ABC’s hit show “Grey’s Anatomy.” The show, most accurately described as a more serious version of “Scrubs” or a very light-hearted version of “E.R,” is currently airing in its second season.

“Grey’s Anatomy” is a play on words of a book titled “Gray’s Anatomy,” which was originally written by Henry Gray and published in England in 1858 as an anatomical textbook used to educate doctors. This hints at the basis for the show – the struggles of becoming a full-fledged doctor.

“Grey’s Anatomy” stars Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey, the well-intentioned and talented daughter of the famous Dr. Ellis Grey. Pompeo may be best remembered from her role as Nicole in the college-flick favorite “Old School.” After graduating from medical school, Grey is stationed at Seattle Grace Hospital as a medical intern. Joined by an enthusiastic and embattled group of bright-eyed young guns, Grey begins to negotiate the complex task of working in a hospital.

Pompeo is joined by Dr. Derek Sheppard, a suave, smart and savvy brain surgeon played by Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey’s previous works include the HBO production “Iron Jawed Angels” and ABC’s “Once and Again,” a role that nabbed him an Emmy nomination. Dempsey is an outstanding actor and is one of the most important facets of the character dynamic that creates the complex beauty of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Grey is joined by interns George O’Malley (T.R. Knight), Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) and Isobel “Izzie” Stevens (Katherine Heigl), all of whom have their own strengths and personal struggles to overcome. O’Malley is the bumbling idiot of the group who can’t seem to get anything right. Before the first episode ends, O’Malley is nicknamed “007” for his “license to kill” patients on the operating table. Yang is the highly motivated Stanford grad and will do anything to get to the top. Contrastingly, Stevens is a beautiful, kind-hearted and easygoing character, but is shadowed by her tainted past.

Then there is Grey. She is constantly second guessing herself and is torn between going with her gut-instinct and what protocol dictates. Grey constantly feels over-shadowed by the legacy of her mother and struggles with issues of her identity as a doctor and her desire to stay with the program. Further complicating the matter is Grey’s romantic relationship with Sheppard, which began before her career at the hospital.

The show’s biggest strengths lie with the complexities surrounding its characters. Each one possesses a certain number of flaws and a balancing number of strengths. The audience is torn between loving their characters at times and hating them at others.

Even the most despicable of personas on the show have their moments of endearing sincerity, which begs the viewer to be compelled to tolerate – if not downright be fond of – them.

Additionally, the plotline is both compelling and intricate and rarely feigns on predictable. Although at times the viewer can foresee what is coming, the event itself is usually delivered in a way that makes it seem slightly unpredictable.

“Grey’s Anatomy” has managed to find a balance between being funny and being serious. While other shows based on medical themes may have the audience in stitches (“Scrubs”) and others may make them feel like they’re on an IV of morphine (“E.R.”), “Grey’s Anatomy” has found that sweet spot in between, balancing the right amount of hilarity to keep the audience smiling with just a touch of drama and suspense to make the viewer crave the next episode.

“Grey’s Anatomy” is increasingly gaining popularity and rightfully so. It has a stellar cast, outstanding writing and a plot line more addictive than Valium. However, this is one addiction viewers won’t need to see a doctor about.