Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Private Practice not making perfect, but it's improving

     When the Grey's Anatomy spinoff, Private Practice, first premiered on ABC, I, like many others, had high hopes.  It was taking popular character Addison (Kate Walsh, The Drew Carey Show) and putting her with an all-star cast.  It had great writers, a successful creator, cream of the crop actors.  So when the show largely began sucking, it was both a disappointment and a surprise.

     Since then, it more or less has found its footing, though it still has trouble with consistency.  December 3rd's double episodes were the last two of 2009, and they were both excellent examples of when the show gets it right.  Dell (Chris Lowell, Veronica Mars) finally was rid of his drug-abusing wife in a heartbreaking story.  It showed the pain of addiction, not just to the addict, but to their families as well.  Dell was caught in a tough place between love and trust and taking care of his loved ones.  When he broke down, yelled at her, and told her to die, it proved what a fine actor Lowell is.  Though Dell is only doing a limited number of episodes this year, he is still listed in the principal cast, and if his story stays this strong, he will be fine.

     Addison had a great plot, too.  She was finally able to learn about and confront her parents for their cheating, lying ways, and she was more or less driven into the arms of Sam (Taye Diggs, Rent).  While Sam and Naomi's (Audra McDonald, A Raisin in the Sun) divorce has been a weak point of the show, and they should definitely get back together, he and Addison have had budding chemistry of late, and it might be interesting to see him take a detour to her before hopping back in with his former wife.  Sam and Naomi also had a really great story with their daughter, and it allowed them to show their parenting skills and weaknesses.  It's a welcome change from petty fighting and Naomi's personal dramas, which led to the splitting of the practice, a not at all welcome development.

     Meanwhile, the tension between Cooper (Paul Adelstein, Prison Break) and Charlotte (KaDee Strickland) since he found out that she had previously been married needs to lessen.  While the two had a wonderful courtship, beginning with a purely sexual relationship, and evolving into one of the best couples on television, sometimes their banal bickering is too much, as it is in this case.  It should get resolved soon, and let them finally grow and be more comfortable with each other.  Yes, we get it, they have a rocky deal going on, but they've come through enough.  Just give them some peace.

     Lastly, the Pete (Tim Daly, Wings, The Nine) and Violet (Amy Brenneman, Judging Amy) story needs resolution even sooner.  What started as a fan tryst, and went into some dark, serious dramatics last spring when Violet's baby was cut from her has become uncomfortable and boring.  While, yes, Violet was traumatized deeply, and it's nice that her dealing with it is a plot, she needs to begin to come out of her stupidness, while there is still a chance for her to get back with Pete.  Both characters have been emotionally paralyzed and wasted for several episodes now.  It's time to begin to move on.  The best thing to come out of the whole plot was the addition of Sheldon (Brain Benben), Violet's other former lover.  He is now listed as 'Also starring' in the opening credits, which hopefully points to him sticking around.  He adds a humor, and sometimes sanity, to the otherwise lacking office.

     Private Practice shows enough signs of life to warrant not giving up on it, but it still has a ways to go.

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