Strap on your scrub caps again, and why not throw on some sun lotion, because we’re returning to the medical world of Grey’s Anatomy – or more accurately, its LA-set spin-off Private Practice, to find out what happened to our plucky doctors once the world, you know, ended.
For those of you who haven’t read the Grey’s Anatomy episode I wrote, “Reprise”, I urge you to go back now as this script is a direct continuation of that – albeit six months and a zombie apocalypse later. As a reminder of the pertinent facts, though:
– Zombie outbreak in Seattle wipes out half the city
– Zombies in Seattle Grace kill Callie’s wife Arizona, Cristina’s husband Owen, Meredith’s husband Derek and Chief Weber
– Callie is bitten, but pregnant, and this seems to act as a sort of immunity
– Meredith is bitten and zombified, but they don’t kill her
If you’re unfamiliar with Private Practice – as many, many Grey’s Anatomy fans are, as the ratings are much lower – it follows Addison Montgomery, former Grey’s cast member and ex-wife to dreamy dreamboat Derek Shepherd. A world-renowned (because everyone in this universe is the best at what they do) neo-natal surgeon, she fled Seattle for LA to find a new life that didn’t involve being constantly dumped. Though I’m not sure why.
Her destination was, and is, Oceanside Wellness – a beach-side “holistic” medical facility dedicated to helping the women have the babies. Also, the patient matters yada yada yada. This practice was set up by her old friends Sam and Naomi Bennett, recently divorced when the series opened and now, well, still divorced. Naomi is an endocronologist and fertility specialist, Sam is a self-help guru and surgeon. Which is nice. Sam and Naomi have a daughter, Maya, who in turn had a wee little baby at the end of the last season. Making Taye Diggs the sexiest grandfather this side of an erotically shaped clock.
The birth of their grand-daughter was fraught with the sort of drama which makes “Private Practice”, sometimes unfortunately, what it is – full-time cast member Dell Parker was driving her to the hospital, crashed, and died, leaving his daughter Betsy orphaned.
I say “sometimes unfortunately” because the more lethargic pace of the Oceanside clinic, which Addison comments on in the first episode, means that a) each patient case must be AMAZING and TRAGIC BABY DECISIONS to keep it interesting and b) they’re much more reliant on the doctors’ increasingly convoluted personal lives to create drama.
The Maya storyline was one of these, made worse by the increasingly flat approach and uninventive story-telling that Private Practice can turn to. Which is unfortunate, as Addison was one of the most genuinely interesting characters to pass through Grey’s Anatomy.
In a similar dramatic children story line to Maya’s, the practice’s often volatile therapist Violet Turner has a two-year-old child with Pete Wilder – Oceanside Wellness’s alternative medicine doc.
At the end of season two, Violet was kidnapped and assaulted by an unhinged former patient – a woman who’d lost her own child and was convinced that the pregnant Violet was carrying a replacement. Violet got cut open, and almost died, but now Katie’s in prison and all is well.
Except for post-traumatic stress and whatnot. Her then-friend, now husband, Pete has dealt with this as best he can, and they’ve formed a stable family unit which has done wonders for Violet’s mental wellbeing and hair.
Adding to Oceanside’s crazy quotient is Cooper Freedman, a paediatrician with a tendency to get overly involved in his patient’s lives. Coop cares, you see, but despite this he’s possibly one of my favourite characters in “Private Practice” – this more than likely down to some sterling work by actor Paul Adelstein at making an over-involved man-child seem, well, likeable.
Cooper’s fiance is Charlotte King, Chief of Staff at St. Ambrose Hospital, hard-ass Southerner with a heart of gold and, yeah, you know the drill. Charlotte is ably played by KaDee Strickland, who got to really break out her chops earlier this season when Charlotte was brutally raped – by Xander from Buffy no less! – a story which was initially deftly handled but was starting to meander into cliches by the time I – and my zombies – arrived on the scene.
Rounding out the practice are Sheldon Wallace and Amelia Shepherd. The former is a psychiatrist who seems to solely exist to fall in love with the female members of the cast and be shot down. Amelia, as you can probably tell from the surname, is Derek Shepherd of “Grey’s” little sister – and of course she’s a spitfire brain surgeon with an addiction problem and various other wacky traits. Amelia just joined the cast so it’s hard to get a handle on what she is beyond these cliches.
Much of the relevant plots have been handled above, in addition to which there’s been some bonding between Charlotte and Amelia over their addictions (prescription meds and alcohol respectively), while Addison and Sam have been seeing each other of late – despite the ongoing presence of ex-wife Naomi.
Apart from that, the only other thing worth mentioning is, as ever, the zombies. Last time we left them they’d killed multiple “Grey’s Anatomy” cast members and taken over half of California. And now we skip six months down the line to find out how Los Angeles has weathered the storm. SPOILER ALERT: Not very well.