Television is a vast wasteland, according to Newton Minow.

Deja vu all over again.

Posted: 09 May 2007 | posted by David J. Loehr |

Some months ago, when Grey's Anatomy was in the midst of its "Meredith dies and goes to the afterlife" story arc, creator Shonda Rhimes explained that they were "doing something that has never been done in television history." I'm still not sure what she meant by that.

Was it the thought of killing off the main character? Nichols, in 1971, ended its first season by killing off the lead with the intention of replacing him with his nicer, kinder twin brother. (Fortunately, it never made it to a second season, paving the way for James Garner to become Jim Rockford.) Okay, how about killing off the lead and visiting the great beyond before coming back? Magnum, p.i., which had intended to leave Magnum dead before signing a deal for one more season. Okay, how about killing off a lead in a medical show, et cetera? St. Elsewhere, in the fifth season episode "After Life," sent Howie Mandel through all three levels of the Divine Comedy, winding up with a wonderful concept of a supreme being, with glimpses of past characters from the series. (And they did it all in one beautifully written episode.)

Bingo, I think we have a winner.

Now, with the two-hour backdoor pilot sending Addison Montgomery down south to a Private Practice, she's done it again. Which is to say, she's taken the one sympathetic character left on Grey's and devolved her into Addy McBeal, complete with quirky music, goofball cases, screwed-up colleagues and mild hallucinations. Thing is, it's bad enough when men write female characters who are either shrill or incapable of existing in the real world, but why on earth would women write this kind of thing? And really, shouldn't a spinoff be called "Montgomery's Ward" if only for the sake of consistency?

The thing is, these older doctors make the young morons--um, interns--on Grey's look well adjusted. Which is kind of disturbing, but I guess it's plausible within that little bubble universe.

All I know is, if I'm looking for a hint of medical realism, reflective narration or even daydreams and hallucinations, I'm going to watch Scrubs. Because, you know, they've already done all of those things...