Pilot Review: Private Practice

Well the weather never really made it into summer, but now it’s most definitely shifted into autumn. And with that come the turning of the leaves, the pelting with the conkers, the darkening of the afternoons and a mixed bag of brand new shows. Some might be huge and some might not make it to episode 4. Some might be great and some might be appalling. And there’s always the slim chance that there might be some correlation between those facts.

I’m selflessly sacrificing myself by watching as many pilots as I can face and obtain, just to be able to write this article. It’s a tough life, but someone’s gotta live it. First up…

Private Practice
The big spin off series of the year. Grey’s Anatomy was a huge success and the Addison Montgomery-Shepherd character grew into an important part of that. Now she’s dropped the hyphen, dropped the ex-husband, dropped the cutting edge hospital and run away to California. By the end of the first episode I find myself thinking that this might be a mistake for just about everybody concerned.

I love Grey’s Anatomy. It’s made some poor plot choices in its time, but on the whole its heart has been in the right place and the occasional stupidity of the characters is excused because they’re young, out of their depth and just learning how to be grown ups. The characters in Private Practice have none of those excuses and hence are just plain stupid. The practice claims to be a small town clinic in a big city, but it just comes across that the doctors are playing. They’re playing with running a mini-hospital themselves (they supposedly vote on everything), taking interesting (presumably wealthy) patients and showering them with attention if not an abundance of staff or services. The opening scene of the series points out that Addison is wasting her frequently mentioned talents on just one patient a day and by the end of the episode I felt myself agreeing. Wow, she saved one woman and her baby, when if the woman had been in hospital delivering her baby she would never have actually been in danger. As an introduction to the series, it kind of shoots itself in the foot.

This is supposed to be a more grown up show – it’s about 30-somethings, not 20-somethings, but not much has changed. They’re still making the same screw-ups, it’s just now they seem kind of pathetic rather than endearing. Even the soundtrack is the same – wouldn’t it have been cooler if Addison was dancing to something a bit more classy than the Scissor Sisters? And seriously, would it be so hard for there to be one character on TV who is happily married with a couple of regular boring kids? There were a couple of elements of characters that seemed interesting – the friendship between Violet and Cooper stood out to me; two personally dysfunctional individuals who somehow manage to be good at what they do. Also there’s potential with the not-dumb-surfer who wants to be a midwife (Piz from Veronica Mars). But the 3 main characters of Addison, Naomi and Sam (a wasted Taye Diggs) left me cold. In fact during Addison’s foot stamping rant at the end I desperately wanted everyone to just turn their backs on her and walk out.

So will I be watching episode 2? No I won’t. I’ll keep an eye on it, but there was just not enough to keep me interested. On top of my dislike for the pilot, I don’t really see where the show can go without being silly. By it’s very nature Private Practice is not going to have so many big dramatic moments as medical dramas set in hospitals, not unless it’s the world’s unluckiest practice. It’s a shame, I loved Kate Walsh in Grey’s Anatomy and think that show is going to suffer without her. But Private Practise does nothing for me and I suspect a lot of Grey’s fans will feel the same. I don’t think it’s long term chances are very good.

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