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Jumping the Grey's shark

By Daniel Kahn

Section: Arts

March 23, 2007

“What goes up must come down. The problem is that when youre up, when youre happy, when youre feeling complete, you forget about that saying;

you forget that you could fall. If we could only remember when were on that high that a low could be just around the corner, maybe we could prepare for it somehow;

soften the blow. But when youre feeling good, the last thing you want to consider is that that feeling will go away. But all it takes is one instant, one wrong decision, one miscommunication, one small slip, to fall”

If you cant smell the strong stench of irony I was trying to portray in that previous paragraph, sniff again. What I was going for was the tone clich-ridden, vague, deep in sound if not meaning of Meredith Greys voiceovers that come at the beginning and end of each episode of Greys Anatomy. Also like Greys, Ill use that beginning narration as a lazy springboard for the theme of this weeks column: how Greys Anatomy went from being televisions most entertaining show to its most frustrating.

Usually Merediths formulaic intros and conclusions are the most tedious and unnecessary moments in a show that is otherwise outstanding from start to finish. Lately, however, our favorite hospital melodrama has been one big mess. While its still reeling in the big ratings, creatively the show has been in decline since the start of the season.

Fans of the fine doctors over at Seattle Grace Hospital had high expectations for the third season of Greys. Last season got better and better with each passing episode, topping itself week after week. The train-wreck episode with the strangers attached at the pole (now, now, minds out of the gutter)awesome! The one where the divorced parents are attached at the pole (okay, back to that gutter, everyone)hilarious! The post-Super Bowl bomb episodesamazing! The Denny storyline and its devastating conclusionheartbreaking!

With new bars being set each week, Greys was not only the show I looked forward to more than any other (save for The Office), but also the most watched show on TV not hosted by a tanned, well-trained monkey (sorry Seacrest).

Why, then, have this seasons plotlines and character arcs been so uninspiring and tedious? Greys is at the height of its popularity, and instead of working to sustain its momentum, it has been squandering it on drawn-out storylines and poorly executed sweeps stunts.

The first-half of the season was fine, I suppose, as long as you ignore that giant, boring elephant standing over there in the corner of the room trying to hide its hand-tremor. Thats right, Im talking about how Dr. Burkes tremor brought the show to stupefyingly dull standstills.

It was four months of the same thing: Burkes hand shakes in surgery;

Christina nonchalantly takes over slicing duties;

hushed talks about how what theyre doing is irresponsible;

more hushed talks about how telling someone about the tremor could kill both of their careers. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The monotony of this situation was made even worse by the corny close-ups of Burkes hand shaking ever-so-slightly. Is that really what this whole crisis is about? That little quiver could barely shake a bottle of Yoo-Hoo! At least they could have brought in Michael J. Fox as a consultant to show Burke how its really done! (Dont scoff, readers. Like my Great Grandpa Mortimer Kahn used to say, tastelessness is next to godliness!)

Thankfully, they resolved this issue, and with barely a consequence for either offending partyhow lucky they are! My luck was considerably less, having been forced to bare witness to the tedious unfolding of this dreadful plotline and its non-issue of a conclusion.

My faith was restored, albeit briefly, with a double-proposal that left me audibly gasping and breathlessly awaiting the answers the following week. But then something terrible happened…

As a student of television, Ive borne witness to many a sweeps stunt. Medical shows especially love to bring out those huge disasters that supply their characters with not only tons of bloodied patients with heart-wrenching back stories, but more importantly, lots of opportunities for their doctors to be heroic and good-looking, simultaneously.

Greys version of this was pretty awful. First, the big disaster was a ferry accident. Don't those things move at like, negative miles per hour? I know they explained that it was really foggy, but then why when our intrepid interns arrived at the scene was it such a beautiful, sunny day. This could be nitpicking, and the show probably did this because the fog was really messing with Merediths hair, but I found it distracting.

In addition, according to my limited knowledge of Seattles weather, its supposed to be pretty rainy out there. The one day they do an episode set outside, its a gorgeous, clear day. Come on, Greys, not only is Seattle actually rainy, but pounding rain and dark skies would have set the tone and mood of this kind of episode much better.

And I havent even gotten to the whole afterlife thing. Jeez! Ive talked to a lot of my friends about this, and the opinions are pretty split. But for me, Merediths annoying stint in the hereafter was ridiculous. Was it nice to see Denny and the Bomb Guy again? Sure. Even Pole Girl was there!

So why didnt I care? Maybe its because, oh, I don't know, the show is called Greys Anatomy, canceling out any chance that Meredith Grey might actually die! Unfortunately, the insurance that comes with having the show being named after you did not extend to Merediths poor mom, Ellis. Goodbye, Ellis! Thanks for all the Alzheimers-related craziness! (And also thanks to Ellis for the only episodethe one where shes suddenly lucidwhere I actually liked Meredith! Congrats on accomplishing what I thought to be impossible, Greys!)

While Meredith was in purgatory, and by extension while I was in a purgatory of sub-par storytelling, Izzie, once my favorite character of all, became just plain unpleasant.

To start, she uncharacteristically makes her best friend George feel like dookie by constantly telling him what a mistake marrying Callie was (Im so on Team Callie. Callie OMalley. Callie Iphigenia OMalley. Hee! And heres where Im 14 years old and point out that Iphigenia sounds like something dirty, as if you werent already thinking that yourselves!).

To make matters worse, it appears as if Izzie and George just slept together! All together now: Nooooo! George and Meredith? Sure. He was in love with her, she was in a vulnerable placeIll buy it. But George and Izzie? Someone call the coast guard, I think I just saw a jumping shark!

By the time youve read this, we will all have seen the fall-out of this most disastrous of hook-ups. Lets hope they turn this around somehow and get our favorite doctors back on track. I havent given up hope yet, but Greys is stretching my good-will pretty thin. Not Meredith-thin, because my goodwill has got to eat, and while its disappointing me as of late, I think Greys Anatomy still has some tasty morsels in store.

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