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Thursday, September 18, 2014

‘Grey’s Anatomy – The Complete Tenth Season’ DVD Review

Article first published as ‘Grey’s Anatomy – The Complete Tenth Season’ DVD Review on Blogcritics.

Grey's AnatomyABC’s Grey’s Anatomy is one of those rare shows that somehow manages to only get better with age. It constantly reinvents itself, allowing for dynamic characters, and a slowly rotating cast. Those who were fresh-faced interns at the start, are now wizened veterans ten years later; others have moved on. New blood enters, but the series keeps focus on the long-time players, too. That’s why I’m happy that The Complete Tenth Season, which collects last year’s 24 installments, is now available to rewatch on DVD.

Season 10 begins in the aftermath of the previous year’s cliffhanger with an intense two-parter, which includes a notable death. But it also begins with life as Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) has just given birth. Grey’s always seems to force you take the good with the bad. There’s a split between Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw). Shane (Gaius Charles) feels responsible for his friend’s death, but there’s also relief in the knowledge that Richard (James Pickens Jr.) has survived, and Cristina (Sandra Oh) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) come back together, even if only temporarily.

Grey’s Anatomy is, first and foremost, a melodrama, occasionally stretching believability from time to time. But it’s the  actors bring authenticity to their roles, creating characters with whom we empathize. We root for them and cry for them. This keeps the series “must-see.” Is it soapy? Sure. However, it’s also consistently compelling, and it stays out of the realm of cheese, at least most of the time.

During the season ten journey, a lot happens. Arizona leaves Callie early on, but their coupling is far from over, and the two work through many obstacles as they try to recover what they once had–before a plane crash left it hard for them to connect as they once had. Meredith also faces marital woes, struggling with Derek (Patrick Dempsey) for control of her career. They are parents now, and there is only so much time in the day to work when children must be taken care of, meaning one of them needs to sacrifice professional goals. At the same time, Alex (Justin Chambers) is beginning a relationship with Jo (Camilla Luddington) and Cristina and Owen wonder if they can get past their opposing desires about children. Richard eventually recovers from his accident, Avery (Jesse Williams) makes one last play for soon-to-be-married April (Sarah Drew), and Bailey (Chandra Wilson) searches for joy in research.

The dynamic of peers being in charge gets stronger. In season nine, a group of doctors take over the hospital. In season ten, they learn what that means, trying to find money to fix things and fund projects. This is a little more difficult for these people than performing surgery, and it’s fun to see them out of their element. Yet, it still seems like a good idea to add this other layer to the show, giving us a view of yet another side of what makes a hospital tick.

Sadly, this is also Cristina Yang’s last year. The writers give her a big sendoff with a large story arc, getting her to the place where she can walk away from Grey Sloan Memorial at peace, and soar beyond what she could accomplish in their small pond. By the season finale, fans will be in tears to see her go, but happy for where she has ended up.

The departure of this pivotal original cast member is at the center of the DVD set’s longest special feature, a 25-minute retrospective as Sandra Oh chats with cast members and crew, recollecting pivotal moments for her character. It’ll make you cry almost as much as the final episode does, and is worth a watch. A shorter featurette, “Medical Medical,” isn’t anything new; it’s a featurette about how the show deals with medical jargon, but it’s light and enjoyable. The release also includes an extended episode, a blooper reel, and quite a few deleted scenes–a nice package of extras.

My only complaint is that as of this writing, the release is not available in Blu-ray. It looks so much better when it airs in HD than this DVD version can provide. Hopefully, Blu is on the near horizon for Grey’s.

Grey’s Anatomy – The Complete Tenth Season is available now.

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