Grey’s Anatomy: Two Hours of Prime Primetime Medical Drama!

Grey's S8

After a couple of seasons of less than enthralling soap, Grey’s Anatomy [ABC, Thursdays, 9/8C] regained its footing last year and, in this season’s two-hour premiere, it continues to move forward with style, substance and fun.

Free Falling/She’s Gone begins hard on the heels of last spring’s finale – with Dr. April Kepner [Sarah Drew] trying to establish her authority as the new chief resident; Dr. Christina Yang [Sandra Oh] and Owen Hunt [Kevin McKidd] at loggerheads over her wanting to have an abortion; Mr. Meredith Grey [Ellen Pompeo] facing discipline for tampering with her husband, Dr. Derek Shepherd’s [Patrick Dempsey] medical trial –and trying to be a good mother to baby Zola after Derek leaves her; Dr. Alex Karev [Justin Chambers] still being hated for ratting out Meredith; Drs. Callie Torres [Sara Ramirez] and Arizona Robbins [Jessica Capshaw] still happy, married moms; and Seattle Grace/Mercy West Hospital as busy as ever.

The premiere opens with a sinkhole appearing beneath a busy street, causing several injuries – including a woman who has just gotten out of a car after a horrendous fight with her husband. Even as work begins towards saving the people injured by the sinkhole, Meredith is getting the news, from Dr. Richard Webber [James Pickens Jr.] that the board has fired her – and we see Derek and Owen at work building Derek’s dream house [yes, he’s still working on it].

In the chaos of the day, April can’t get anyone to listen to her, resulting in a mix-up in surgery; the social worker who placed Zola comes by to check on Derek, Meredith and Zola; the husband from the teaser is told he will have to amputate his wife’s leg [it’s pinned under their car, which followed them into the sinkhole]; a father and son who fell into the sinkhole give Drs. Jackson Avery [Jesse Williams III] and Teddy Altman [Kim Raver] some problems, and Teddy discovers that she’s just an ordinary housewife when it comes to her husband Henry’s [Scott Foley] surgery – and we’re just scratching the surface here [we haven’t even gotten to The Gunther, yet]…

Free Falling/She’s Gone are pretty typical examples of how good Grey’s Anatomy can be when everything meshes. It’s fast-paced, emotionally involving [rocks will shed tears during the last ten minutes – if they haven’t before], filled with unusual medical crises and mundane ones, mixing humor and drama in unexpected ways, and showing character nuances we never see coming [yet, once seen, feel absolutely true to the characters].

On the negative side, the more we get to see April struggling as chief resident, the less funny, or even compelling it gets. Hopefully Shonda Rimes’ writing team will not run that particular bit into the ground – both we and April deserve better.

Free Falling was written by Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, and She’s Gone was written by Debora Cahn – both hours were directed by Rob Corn.

The opening moments of Free Falling might seem a bit much, but a sinkhole of approximately that size opened up on one of the busier intersections here [it took months before the streets were opened to traffic again], so I can speak to the possibility of something like that happening. It certainly made the premiere resonate with me in an unusual manner.

Overall, Free Falling/She’s Gone is a better than average outing from a show that has returned to its much better than average self.

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Photo by Bob D’Amico/courtesy ABC