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Dissecting “Grey’s Anatomy”

Laura Miller | Wednesday, October 4, 2006

At the close of the highly watched second season of ABC’s popular medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” audiences were left with a series of maddening cliffhangers. The show’s protagonist, aspiring surgeon Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), had just slept with Dr. McDreamy himself, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), putting both her new relationship with cute veterinarian Finn (Chris O’Donnell) and Derek’s fragile marriage to fellow surgeon Addison (Kate Walsh) at risk.

Her fellow surgical interns were no less engrossed in complicated storylines. Amidst the drama of the hospital prom, Izzie (Katherine Heigl) lost her beloved patient and fiancé Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to heart failure, and left Seattle Grace shortly thereafter. Dr. Karev redeemed his womanizing ways somewhat as he attempted to comfort the grieving Izzie. At this point, their romantic future remains speculation.

The fledgling romance between Drs. Burke and Yang (Isaiah Washington and Sandra Oh respectively) was also on shaky ground after Burke suffered a potentially debilitating injury to his spinal chord. Lastly, sweet and lovable George (T. R. Knight) was left unable to say, “I love you,” having heard his new girlfriend Callie (Sara Ramirez) utter those three fateful words earlier in the season.

The highly anticipated third season of “Grey’s” began airing two weeks ago at its new time, Thursdays at 9 p.m. So far, it has fared well in the ratings race against CBS’s No. 1 show, “C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation,” the former ratings powerhouse of that time slot.

“The move of “Grey’s” to Thursday definitely changed the dynamics for us,” said Jeff Bader, head of scheduling at ABC, in a recent Associated Press article.

As the complicated storylines continue to develop, they and the drama of “Grey’s” must keep working to maintain and expand that strong viewership. After two weeks, the surgeons of Seattle Grace have embroiled themselves in further drama, resolving some storylines while fleshing out others. In particular, the love triangle between Meredith, Finn and Derek has become a regular character struggle, with Meredith resolving to date both men. Considering her luck with men in the show’s previous seasons, one can only speculate as to how this storyline may resolve itself.

Izzie, having taken to sitting Shiva and maniacally baking in grief over Denny’s death, closed last week’s episode having reconciled with her supervisor, Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson), and standing tentatively outside of Seattle Grace’s double doors. Her return to the hospital seems likely, but dealing with the consequences of both the loss of Denny and her actions prior to his death will be a difficult task for the show’s writers.

One interesting addition to the cast is Dr. McSteamy, or Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), the man whose affair with Addison ruined the Shepherds’ marriage for good. Dr. Sloan has only briefly appeared in previous episodes. However, a recent renewal of his contract for several subsequent episodes implies that McSteamy is, in fact, here to stay in Seattle. His presence on the show should impact plotlines on “Grey’s” this fall.

“Sloan, of course, was the reason Derek moved to Seattle in the first place, when his former best friend slept with his wife,” said a recent Zap2it.com article.

“His ongoing presence will either set up two interlocking love triangles (Meredith-Finn-Derek and Derek-Addison-Sloan) or one big love pentagon,” the article said.

In the past, the strength of “Grey’s Anatomy” was its constant emphasis on compelling writing and storytelling. While each medical story featured in a weekly episode may seem over the top on occasion, the characters involved – both staff and patients – seem realistic, as though they’ve been in our living rooms for years rather than only two seasons.

Season 3 began on a slightly weaker note than previous years, with Izzie, an audience favorite, spending the entire episode laying on the floor in her dejected prom dress. Meredith’s recent decision regarding Derek and Finn seems more like a plot device to ensure continuous drama than the move that a realistic woman might make. It’s early in the season, meaning that viewers have a chance to see how “Grey’s” develops in the coming weeks.