Thursday, June 15, 2006

TV on DVD: Grey's Anatomy

It's so surprising and pleasant when a midseason replacement show turns out to be great. The Office, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and, a year and a half ago, Grey's Anatomy all defied my expectations of the typical filler that networks toss in when their other shows don't perform how they'd like.

The Season One Grey's Anatomy DVD is short on episodes (only 9) but has a few good extras, including one pilot commentary with creator Shonda Rhimes and director Peter Horton, and another with Katherine "Katie" Heigl (Izzie), T.R. Knight (George), and Sandra Oh (Cristina). Lots of fun insights into how the show is filmed and how much they've learned since shooting the first episode.

Let's get it on...kind of like Meredith and McDreamy in the pilot...

- In the morning-after scene, both Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey got completely naked. They had minimal prodding from the directors--and great chemistry right from the start. Those exhibitionists! The brief opening scene is where Shonda wanted viewers to "fall in love with Derek" right away.

Casting Call

- Alex was not in the original pilot. He was a response to a request that they have 'more guys'. Initially Burke was going to be so much more of an asshole, but when Isaiah was brought on they needed someone else to deal with that. Can you imagine the show without Justin Chambers? I can't.

- Chandra Wilson transforms when she gets in character; in real life is one of the sweetest people in the world.

- Sandra Oh came in to read for Bailey and they offered it to her, but she was more interested in Cristina.

- Jim Pickens was the only person they wanted for the Chief, the only person who read, and the network said yes immediately. Sweet!

Real vs. Fake

- Ellen did a lot of takes of throwing up without complaining. It wasn't real vomit (of course); it was apples or applesauce, that kind of thing.

- Isaiah Washington learned the entire surgery and performed it over and over for 8 hours straight, saying all the instructions, etc. to the nurses. Too bad they only made a brief montage with a song playing instead of Isaiah's lines. All that memorization went unappreciated...until now! Wooooo - go Isaiah!

- The shot of the brain during the rhythmic gymnast's surgery was a real brain. Ew! (Also, with the extreme dopeyness of the girl, I wasn't sure she actually had one.)

Outside the Operating Room

- Originally the interns were going to hang out in the morgue, rather than the tunnels underneath the hospital. Everybody loves the tunnels now. (Me too--the morgue would be too morbid. It doesn't fit the effervescent tone of a lot of the show.)

- They've tried to stay away from the 'patient of the week' syndrome; it's more how the doctors deal with the patients and feel about them.

- During the scene after the surgery where Meredith talks to McDreamy, he only says "Yeah" - his other direction was just to "enjoy her". (Yeah, he did okay. If charm were a sport, Patrick Dempsey would dominate.)

- Shonda expected through the whole pilot process that the closing scene where Meredith goes to see her Alzheimer's-afflicted mom would get push-back and be cut. (Again, I'm glad it wasn't. I think it hit the right tone for the show and made me want to see where the story would go.)

The second set of DVD's, with a whopping 27 episodes, sounds like it'll have a bunch of great extras as well. We can look forward to savoring it, and every glorious hair on Patrick Dempsey's head, on September 12th.

Oh, and by the way? Even Shonda Rhimes makes a "shades of gray" pun about her own show. I feel a lot better about my dumb puns now. Whew!

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