Thursday, February 17, 2011

Private Practice Goes For "Blind Love"

     ABC's Private Practice is Grey's Anatomy's less consistent younger sibling. Despite a great cast, the series has had its share of ups and downs in the quality department. On shows I like, such as this one, I tend to try to overlook the downs, and only review the ups. Last week's "Blind Love" was an up, not for the story of the week, which was decent, but for the furthering of two major, well written, well acted running arcs.

     Last time I covered Private Practice was during November sweeps, when a man named Lee McHenry (Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Nicholas Brendan) raped Charlotte (KaDee Strickland). As good as Charlotte's arc of recovery has been, it should be no surprise that I am now revisiting the show at the end of that story, as Charlotte confronted and forgave Lee last week. Bonus points because Charlotte convinced Lee's abused girlfriend to tell the police that Lee confessed to the rape, so Lee will be paying for the crime in jail, which viewers may have considered a lost cause. It had previously appeared that Lee had gotten away with the assault. Not so fast!

     What's been great is that Strickland has really shone in a very out of character story for her. I say out of character not because the writing was bad, but because Charlotte has always been such a strong, assertive women, and lately she's played the terrified victim. I do not know anyone close to me who has ever been raped, but as near as I can tell, Private Practice has done a superb job at tackling the subject realistically, and in a very moving way. It wasn't just shown in one week, but in an ongoing story of recovery after the traumatic event. Both Charlotte and Cooper (Paul Adelstein) struggled mightily last week, both urging Sam (Taye Diggs) differently on whether to allow Lee to live or die during surgery. It was a strong note for the series, with both viewpoints being well rationalized. I wasn't completely sure which way Sam was going to go until just before the surgery.

     Equally strong, Private Practice is finally making good use of Kate Walsh's Addison Montgomery. For too long the character has been reduced to pining over various men, and bouncing from failed relationship to failed relationship. The recent plot with Addison's mother, Bizzy (JoBeth Williams), who came out as a lesbian, and then watched her long-time secret partner, Susan (Ann Cusack), die the day after the wedding, has been phenomenal. Addison's struggle with who her mother is, as well as expressing emotion to a woman who doesn't seem to have any, has been handled with care. I am giddy with anticipation, so to speak, over how tonight will play, considering the shocking surprise ending of last week's episode. Perhaps giddy is the wrong word, but I am very much looking forward to it.

     Sadly, Naomi, despite being played by the amazing Audra McDonald, has been pretty much worthless this entire season. She will soon be leaving the show as a main character. Perhaps her continued presence in coming years, only using her when good story needs her, will make up for a lackluster run. I can only hope. McDonald deserves better. I assume it's too much to ask that Naomi get one more good story so she can go out on a positive note?

     Though both larger arcs appear to be winding down, let's hope that Private Practice has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Now that it's got the momentum, don't let it stop! Private Practice airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

Article first published as TV Review: Private Practice - "Blind Love" on Blogcritics.

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