Private Practice: Season 2
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Private Practice: Season 2

When the popularity of a television series reaches a certain critical mass it typically undergoes a type of fission that results in another, similar show often referred to as the spin-off. Usually one character that held a secondary position in the original series becomes such a breakout hit with the fans that the studio executives smell the chance for another hit and gives that character a series of their own. The most common plot device used to justify the change is simply having the character move out of town. This way if either series requires quick ratings boost a cross over episode is easy and natural to arrange. For the ABC network one of their most celebrated series was ‘Grey’ Anatomy’ which helped to usher in the return of scripted television after it appeared so called reality shows were taking over. Typical of many modern series it was basically a prime time soap opera. Fortunately, there was more than enough salacious activity and dirty back stabbing to go around so the writers and producers were able to break off another medical drama and while it never hit as big as ‘Grey’s Anatomy was at its peak the series is generally deporting its self rather well. Of course it helped that they took one of the more interesting and likable characters as the foundation of this spin-off ‘Private Practice’. To be fair this is not ‘Masterpiece Theater nor was it ever intended to fill that tier of the entertainment spectrum. This is a good old fashion guilty pleasure the kind housewives used to discuss over a cup of mid morning coffee. Not only is there nothing wrong with a guilty pleasure like this they serve a valid purpose of providing a much needed break from the drudgery of everyday life. While soap operas are traditionally thought of as a female means of diversion it has recently become more acceptable for us men out there to become completely hooked on these shows. In a case like this the writing is in many ways superior to many of the weekly hour long dramas. In the tradition of the soap opera the involved, frequently convoluted back stories of the characters add just enough spice, as well as illicit affairs, to keep you coming back for more.

For most television series a lot depends on the talents of its creator. This effect is greatly magnified when it comes to a spin off. Not only must the new series differentiate itself sufficiently from the original as not to be called derivative it has to initially retain enough of the mood and flavor of the original so as to entice fans over to the spin-off. This is a balancing act that is almost impossible especially if a new creative team is heading up the new series. At least ‘Private Practice’ started out with several of those factors minimized. Both this series and its parent were created by Shonda Rhimes. She is used to a challenge having written such polar opposite films as ‘The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement’ and ‘Introducing Dorothy Dandridge’. While her resume is brief it demonstrates range which in this case helped her take the new series in a completely new direction. Okay, she was also responsible for the Brittany Spears vanity flick ‘Crossroads’ but young writers have to start out somewhere. The focal point of the series is Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), the ex-wife of the much sort after Dr. McDreamy back in Seattle Grace Hospital. Dr. Addison left the grey skies of the Pacific Northwest for the sunnier climate of Santa Monica, California. There she entered into the titular private practice; the Oceanside Wellness Center. Addison is a well respected OB/GYN as well as a talented Neonatal Surgeon so groups would vide for her inclusion. For these more inclined to a holistic variation of medicine Peter Wilder (Tim Daly) is the group’s specialist in herbs, acupuncture and alternative medicine. You know that sparks will have to fly when two attractive people with vastly different approaches to patient care get together. Dr. Naomi Bennett (Audra McDonald) is the group’s fertility specialist and endocrinologist. She has been close friends with Addison since medical school. She is divorced from but still rather amiable with ex-husband, Sam (Taye Diggs). He is notable as an author of a popular wellness book and is primarily an internist. With some many doctors helping patient’s get pregnant and deliver you need a Pediatrician for after the little bundle arrives you have Dr. Cooper Freedman (Paul Adelstein) the practice’s Pediatrician. In this season the once lucrative practice has been hit by the downward economy. Unpaid debts start coming due forcing s rearrangement of the group. This moves Addison up to become the new boss. Adding to the troubles is a new competitor, Pacific Well Care, located in the same office building, while these story arcs ground the proceedings what most people tune in for are the personal entanglements and there are plenty of them. Since both this series and ‘Grey’s’ were hit hard by the hiatus forced by the writer’s strike hit both series hard a cross over arc made sure the fans had something interesting right off the bat. Having survived and even flourished in it sophomore season it looks like this will get a chance to solidify its talent.

Posted 09/07/09

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