Even with the writers strike, Grey’s anatomy finished the season with seventeen episodes. The problem was that it wasn’t the show’s best [or even third best] season. Somehow, amidst all the bed hopping, gossiping and medical arcs, the show’s creative team seemed to lack focus. One of the most glaring mistakes was having best friends Izzie [Katharine Heigl] and George [T.R. Knight] fall in love. Another was having Dr. Mark “McSteamy” Sloan’s [Eric Dane] behavior prompt both a boycott of his surgeries by all the nurses, and the required filling out and signing – by every hospital employee – of a form in which they divulged the names of every hospital employee with whom they had had sex. The episode, The Becoming, was on pretty shaky ground legally and the farcical subplot almost detracted from an arc involving a pair of gay soldiers – one of whom had a terminal brain tumor and had decided to try an experimental procedure devised by Drs. Derek “McDreamy” Shepard [Patrick Dempsey] and Meredith Grey [Ellen Pompeo].
On the plus side, the season introduced Meredith to the concept of therapy; introduced a nurse, Rose [Lauren Stamile], who caught Derek’s attention while he and Meredith were not together; the trials of the experimental procedure for treating brain tumors, which served to keep Derek and Meredith in close proximity; the introduction of Dr. Erica Hahn [Brooke Smith]; the introduction of Meredith’s half-sister, Lexie Grey [Chyler Leigh]; the crumbling of Bailey’s [Chandra Wilson] marriage, and the possibility that Erica and Callie [Sara Ramirez] were lesbians.
Most likely the problem was dealing with plots that had to include twelve regulars plus a number of recurring players as well as a host of guest stars. By the end of the season things were back on track and the final three eps really cooked. Which is not to say that all the earlier eps sucked. Very few were actually bad – and several were very good, especially Forever Young – in which a busload of high school students and their driver were hurt. That episode juxtaposed the cliques of high school with the cliques that had grown in the hospital – without anyone even seeming to notice [except rose, who was introduced in the ep].
Features include: two expanded episodes – Forever Young and The Becoming; three audio commentaries: Chyler Leigh and Associate Producer Karin Gleason on the season premiere, A change is Gonna Come; Lauren Stamile and Executive Producer/Director Rob Corn on Forever Young, and Sandra Oh and Director Julie Anne Robinson on The Becoming; New docs on the Block – featurette on the three new members of the cast – Chyler Leigh, Brooke Smith and Lauren Stamile; On Set with Patrick and Eric – the boys of Grey’s goofin’; Good Medicine: Favorite Scenes; Dissecting Grey’s Anatomy: Deleted Scenes [optional commentary would have been nice here…]; In Stitches: Season four Outtakes, and One Quick Cut – Grey’s from day one to the first part of season four in four minutes.
Grade: Grey’s Anatomy, Season Four – B-
Grade: Features – A
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Final Grade: B