I watched the last two episodes of Private Practice today, and they were terrific. One was about a woman who needed a kidney transplant (thanks to Izzie effing up the whole thing on Grey's Anatomy) and the only kidney available was her HIV-positive sister's, and the other episode was about a woman who was raped and got pregnant and she wants to keep the baby but her husband doesn't. Holy sizzling plotlines, Shonda Rhimes!
Private Practice is now in its 3rd season, and it's showing no signs of slowing down, losing creative vision, or jumping the shark. That's more than I can say for a lot of other shows--namely, Practice's parent show, Grey's. I also like that Practice has a relatively small cast for an ensemble show. Yes, Naomi and Sam have the weakest plotlines of the eight or so regulars, but I don't mind them being around. Especially since Naomi has been the "happy" to Addison's "angsty" lately. And Sam is now a surgeon--and a very good one, at that.
Private Practice also managed to expand from its original core group of six without diluting the other characters. I used to think Dell was annoying. Not anymore--I love seeing him in scrubs and taking care of moms-to-be. I couldn't stand Charlotte at first--but since that episode where her father died, we saw that she had a heart, after all. I'm still on the fence about Sheldon, Violet's ex who was one of the possible baby-daddies. I think Sheldon has a shortness complex (I would know) and he's always getting into a huff in every scene he's in. In the moments between his complaints, he is funny and lovable. If the show keeps him around, I hope they find a way to dewhine-ify him.
Grey's Anatomy, on the other hand, has so many new characters now, I can't keep track of them all. Those interns--there are way too many, and they seem to cycle in and out and back in with each episode. They've been around two seasons, and I still don't know any of their names, except for Lexie. She's the only addition I like. Everyone else seems totally incompetent to be a doctor. Was anybody from the original Grey's cast this unwatchable in season 1? I don't remember.
This is the second time this season I find myself liking a spinoff more than the original, the first one being The City vs. The Hills. Network heads: Maybe it's time to retire certain canceled shows forever (I'm looking at you, V) and take a look at spinning off some of the excellent shows you currently have. For example, I would love another subversive comedy like Glee--though Fox, please wait a few years on that first.
Spinoffs, done right, are the perfect mix of risk (new show) and security (proven concept and/or characters). Well done, Private Practice.