Monday, February 13, 2006

Shonda Rhimes displays her mastery again

There are different ways to review a work. One is the Richard Roeper way. Basically, he walks into a movie showing with an expectation. He is entitled to that expectation. If the movie doesn't meet his perspective, he is disappointed and trashes the film.

His partner and possibly the greatest film critic living or that has ever lived, Roger Ebert, has the opposite approach--he gets into the film, asks what they were trying to do and then evaluates, "Given what they were trying to do, how was the writing? The acting? What did I learn from it?"

Grey's Anatomy's Super Bowl effort and its follow-up which ran last night, illuminate the joy you can find with the second approach.

This was a cheesy, over-the-top story--it was trying to attract the millions of extra viewers tuning in from the Super Bowl. It worked--according to Nielsen, between 30 million and 40 million folks tuned in.

What was most impressive was how Shonda Rhimes was able to write the gratuitous moments smoothly and effectively into the script. The Super Bowl episode opened with one of the most riduculous shower scenes in the history of media. At the end of last night's episode, Rhimes had not only justified that scene, but grown it into a tremendously emotional, powerful new shower scene that really put the earlier scene in its place.

As Meredith Grey's (Ellen Pompeo) best friends washed from her face the blood and bone of the man who saved her life, a look of realization washed over George O'Malley's (TR Knight) face. There were things in life far more important than foursomes with his beautiful intern colleagues.

Tonight's episode had an almost Japanese Drama-ish feel. Absent the "everything going on at once" quality of last week, Rhimes wrote a constant level of tension and just let her character try to love and survive in the midst of it. She held us viewers on the edge of climax for almost the entire hour and finally when we breathed a momentary sigh of relief delivered a blow that shook us to our core.

How many times do we hestitate in treating those around us how we ought to. How much do those little words of gratitude or love mean? Won't there be a day where we'll try to finally articulate those feelings and it will be too late?

Thank you Shonda, I was entertained. But I think I walked away understanding humanity a little bit more.


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