TV

Private Practice

The show's true centre of dramatic gravity can be found midway between Violet (Amy Brenneman) and Cooper (Paul Adelstein).


Private Practice

Airtime: Wednesdays, 9pm ET
Cast: Kate Walsh, Amy Brenneman, Taye Diggs, Tim Daly, Paul Adelstein, Audra McDonald
MPAA rating: N/A
Subtitle: Series Premiere
Network: ABC
US release date: 2007-09-26
Website
Trailer
Amazon

Private Practice began at the top of the hour. By seven minutes past, I was ready to turn off. After persevering with this inexcusable waste of potential, I have figured our precisely why my medical insurance premiums are so ridiculously high. It's because doctors are idiots. It must be true: it's on TV.

In Grey's Anatomy, Kate Walsh's Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery-Shepherd appeared to be a fully-formed goddess among barely mortal lumps of clay. Now, moved 1100 miles down the West Coast, she has taken a new job without bothering to find out a single thing about what she's getting herself into. When she arrived in Los Angeles, all Allie McBeal in a bright white coat, she was shocked to discover that only one of her new partners knew she was coming, her old college buddy Naomi (Audra McDonald), and that she's now working, without staff, in a "birthing suite" that's absolutely unequipped to cope with any kind of surgery. And yet the first thing she did was to accept a brand new patient in the early stages of labour, and not take enough of a medical history to discover that her patient's mother... wait for it ... died in childbirth. Can you spell "medicolegal"? I can certainly spell "malpractice."

And "dumb."

Either Shonda Rhimes really hates Kate Walsh and believes that revenge is a dish best eaten Kelvin-cold, or she's deeply committed to recycling. If Grey's Anatomy, as Callie (Sara Ram’rez) once memorably remarked, is "high school with scalpels," then Private Practice is a very weak Interns: All Growed Up! or maybe Addy and Naomi's High School Reunion. With scalpels.

We should have known from ABC's advance campaign: a clip show presented by the goss-tards of People magazine that climaxed with the "broadcast premiere" of a new music video from Coldplay rip-off merchant and Grey's soundtrack regular Mat Kearney. From her clumsy naked dancing, through her uncharacteristically nervous countdown before making the first cut in an emergency C-section, to the embarrassing and painful soliloquy that was supposed to reveal her bad-ass goddess self, Addison seems to have been rewritten in Meredith "Meh" Grey's own image. How else to explain that a "world class neo-natal surgeon" who wants to be chief of surgery at a major teaching hospital would take a junior spot at a fricking wellness clinic? Or to explain the myriad echoes of Grey's, from the never-ending "shut ups" I thought had been trademarked by Meh, to the head-slappingly stupid revelation that Addison is going to be Naomi's "someone" just as Meh was Christina's "person" in Seattle. Someone, or some person, really needs to slap Rhimes upside her head and remind her that the reason everyone loved Addison in Grey's Anatomy was because she wasn't Meredith Grey!

This "someone" should also tell Rhimes that the sort of relationship she wants Addison and Naomi to enjoy works best if both bring something to the table (and the cheesecake they stole from The Golden Girls doesn't count). If Addison appears dumbed and greyed down, Naomi lacks any substance whatsoever.

Fortunately, we have distractions. The show's true centre of dramatic gravity can be found midway between Violet (Amy Brenneman) and Cooper (Paul Adelstein). Postergirl for the motto, "Physician, heal thyself," Violet is a psychiatrist with abandonment issues and a side order of stalking. And Coop is a pediatrician who likes his women like he likes his coffee: cheap, with a bitter aftertaste, and ordered off the internet. Nonetheless, Violet and Coop have a monopoly on that thing called chemistry, while Naomi remains tied to her ex, Sam (Taye Diggs), and Addison appears entangled with Personality Pete (Tim Daly) in a romantic match that will go down in history -- like Jane Roe and Henry Wade, or maybe David and Goliath.

The premiere episode emphasized the Private Practice lurve scheme by giving each pair a medical subplot. Addison and Personality Pete's anesthetic-free emergency surgery allowed them to see each other's professional strengths and inner beauties -- yuck. Naomi and Sam confronted a problem ripped from the pages of Law & Order, which they resolved by referring directly to their own relationship -- yawn. And Violet and Coop worked out a tear-jerking drama in a department store, involving both psychosis and the tragic death of a child. Sadly, despite their appeal, Brenneman and Adelstein look doomed to be minor characters.

Perhaps tellingly, Private Practice opened with an awkward scene between Addison and Seattle Grace's Chief of Surgery, Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.), that culminated with Webber promising to hold Addison's job in Seattle open for as long as possible. I wonder if he knows something we don't?

5

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image