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"Grey's Anatomy": Complete Fifth Season - More Moments DVD Review

Buy Grey's Anatomy: The Complete Fifth Season DVD from Amazon.com Grey's Anatomy: Season Five (2008-09)
Show & DVD Details

Creator: Shonda Rhimes / Repeat Writers: Shonda Rhimes, Debora Cahn, Jenna Bans, Krista Vernoff, Mark Wilding, William Harper, Stacy McKee, Tony Phelan, Joan Rater, Peter Nowalk / Repeat Directors: Rob Corn, Eric Stoltz, Randy Zisk, Tom Verica

Regular Cast: Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey), Sandra Oh (Cristina Yang), Katherine Heigl (Isobel "Izzie" Stevens), Justin Chambers (Alex Karev), T.R. Knight (George O'Malley), Chandra Wilson (Miranda Bailey), James Pickens, Jr. (Richard Webber), Sara Ramirez (Callie Torres), Eric Dane (Mark Sloan), Chyler Leigh (Lexie Grey), Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt), Patrick Dempsey (Derek Shepherd)

Recurring Characters: Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Denny Duquette), Jessica Capshaw (Arizona Robbins), Brooke Smith (Erica Hahn), Melissa George (Sadie Harris), Eric Stoltz (William Dunn), Mary McDonnell (Virginia Dixon), Kate Walsh (Addison Montgomery), Amy Madigan (Dr. Wyatt), Jennifer Westfeldt (Jen Harmon), Steven W. Bailey (Joe)

Notable Guest Stars: Bernadette Peters (Sarabeth Breyers), Mariette Hartley (Betty Kenner), Kathy Baker (Anna Loomis), Tyne Daly (Carolyn Shepherd), Audra McDonald (Naomi Bennett), Taye Diggs (Sam Bennett), Grant Show (Archer Montgomery), Sam Anderson (Michael Whitman), Faye Dunaway (Margaret Campbell), Loretta Devine (Adele Webber), Hector Elizondo (Mr. Torres), Jeff Perry (Thatcher Grey), Sharon Lawrence (Robbie Stevens), Kellie Martin (Julie Zelman), Zach Gilford (Charlie Lowell), Debra Mooney (Mrs. Hunt)

Running Time: 1039 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: TV-14
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned / DVD Release Date: September 11, 2007
Season 5 Airdates: September 25, 2006 – May 14, 2007
Seven single-sided, dual-layered discs (6 DVD-9s & 1 DVD-5); Suggested Retail Price: $59.99
Eight-sided fold-out Digipak with Cardboard Slipcover

Buy Grey's Anatomy from Amazon.com: Season 5 DVD • Seasons 1-5 DVD • Pre-order Season 5 Blu-ray

By Jake Lipson

"The end of Season Five? Pitched. I'm not teasing you by saying that. Not teasing by saying Season Five will be the most exciting, fly by the seat of your pants/skirts, 'Oh My God Did That Just Happen???!' Season of 'Grey's Anatomy' EVER."

So wrote Shonda Rhimes, creator of "Grey's Anatomy", on the writer's blog at the end of Season Four. When I read this, it gave me hope. Despite a rocky finish to its third season that bled into an inconsistent fourth season, things were looking up. The infamous 2007-08 writer's strike, which arguably led to the premature demise of so many great shows ("Pushing Daisies", "Eli Stone" R.I.P.), actually seemed to benefit "Grey's".
The writers clearly returned for the second half of Season Four with renewed vigor, having been energized by the time off, and the sharper focus was obvious on screen. An uplifting ending to the season finale was practically unheard of in ShondaLand, but that's exactly what we got. What with everything that was happening on screen in combination with Rhimes' excited declaration on the blog, it seemed like the writers had recognized the mistakes of the recent past and were laying the groundwork for great things to come the following year.

Well, now it's a year later. Season Five has left the airwaves and come to DVD, where we can now judge Rhimes' above statement. Yes, there were some really great things in Season 5 that kept me tuning in week after week. But there were also too many underdeveloped new characters taking screentime from our old favorites and several storylines with great potential that were squandered in the middle of this mess.

The doctors of Seattle Grace Hospital (Sandra Oh, Patrick Dempsey, Ellen Pompeo) momentarily forget their busy personal lives to perform a very serious operation in the fifth season of "Grey's Anatomy." With the "will they or won't they?" drama laid to rest, Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) can now do ordinary couple things like reading in bed together.

Worst of all, poor execution resulted in the now-infamous posthumous return of Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) becoming an all-time low point for the series. It saddens me that I can no longer call the show "among the very best dramatic stories ever told in any medium," as I did when I reviewed the all-around superior second season. I said then, "If the series so far is any indication -- and I think it is -- the best is still yet to come." Unfortunately, I was wrong in that assessment. While there is still enough interesting drama in the hallways of Seattle Grace Hospital to justify tuning in, I now believe that Season Two represents the pinnacle of the show's creative success, which they are unlikely to ever again sustain on a long-term basis.

Before harping on Season Five's failures too much, let's remember its triumphs (and there were triumphs, sometimes contrary to popular opinion). First and foremost in significance is the successful addition of Kevin McKidd (late of HBO's "Rome" and NBC's short-lived "Journeyman") to the cast as trauma surgeon Owen Hunt.
His post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from experiences in Iraq is one of the most interesting stories the show has ever told, and it has been handled with remarkable sensitivity. His slow, sweet romance with Cristina (Sandra Oh) has provided a chance for both characters to grow significantly and absolutely chases away any lingering viewer sorrow about the previous departure of Isaiah Washington's Burke.

Also, after four long seasons of back and forth, we are finally done with Meredith and Derek's "will they or won't they" commitment drama. In the latter half of the season, some fantastic story points come up to test their relationship without resorting to another breakup, proving they can be written effectively while they are together. Lastly, the cast as a whole continues to do terrific work, and sometimes sell ridiculous storylines better than they deserve, particularly Katherine Heigl.

George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) celebrates a rare moment of Season 5 screentime. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) is visited by her dead fiancι Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) in ten scattered Season 5 episodes.

Now, the bad: The show's recent knack for attracting gossip headlines off-screen seems to have bled into the actual show. It is hard to believe Rhimes' assertion that the ending of the season was pitched exactly a year ago. There are elements in the season premiere which do foreshadow elements of the finale, but the idea that everything is as planned a year ago is a bit much to believe.

Despite George (T.R. Knight) passing his intern exam near the beginning of the season, he does not get a new arc as he transitions to life as a resident. Instead, he nearly disappears from the mix, receiving very little screentime throughout most of the season (and actually sitting out an episode or two). This fueled gossip that Knight asked to be released from his contract, or perhaps asking led to the screentime loss. Another possibility is that bad feelings linger over his regrettable 2006 incident with Isaiah Washington. Either way, Knight/George's banishment to the sidelines is a significant missed opportunity, especially because his likeable underdog personality drew many fans to the show in the first place.

Rumors that Heigl's public displeasure with the writing for her character Izzie inspired Rhimes to write an arc that would kill her off are hard to ignore when the storyline plays out as it does. I will go so far as to say that using her dead fiancι Denny to represent "death" for Izzie is both logical and a good idea. It allows her to wrestle with the guilt that was brushed aside in Season 3 (when Izzie quickly fell in love with George, the show's first major wrong turn). However, the execution of this idea is significantly beneath what "Grey's" is capable of. There is no need for this to be dragged out for half a season and definitely no need for Izzie and her ghostly vision to consummate their relationship.

While Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a wonderful actor, his continued presence three seasons after his character's death makes Denny more annoying than enduring and cheapens the impact of his original storyline, a hallmark of Season 2's brilliance. On the writer's blog at the end of Season 2, Rhimes wrote, "Denny was always going to die. His character was created to die. I knew it. Jeffrey Dean Morgan knew it. And as much as I wanted Denny NOT to die when the time came..., it was his time. He had a stroke. He died. I had nothing to do with it. It was his time. People die. Suddenly. Without warning. When you least expect it. People die. And it's horrible and painful and utterly shocking but... it happens. And I wanted to present that on the show." She would do well to remember her sentiments at that time.

Owen (Kevin McKidd) makes a face that only a bearded man showering in a suit can. Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) enjoys a nice lesbian dinner date before disappearing six episodes into the season.

Another perhaps less discussed problem with this season is the sudden influx of new characters. In previous seasons, the show has been able to integrate new doctors into the ensemble so successfully that you start to think they've been around longer than they have and care about them like you would a member of the original cast. (Mark, Callie, Lexie and especially Addison fit this bill, so much so that Kate Walsh now has her own spin-off series, "Private Practice".)
As stated earlier, they accomplished this again with Kevin McKidd as Owen. But this season also brought in several other doctors who, for some reason, do not really gel with the main cast. Dealing sudden departures, it seems like the writers give up on these characters and actors, raising the question of why they were brought into the picture in the first place.

Introducing Meredith's "pre-Cristina Cristina" best friend Sadie (Melissa George) offers the writers a unique opportunity to explore Meredith between her troubled childhood and her current residency at Seattle Grace, the period of her life that viewers know least about. However, almost nothing comes of this intriguing possibility and Sadie departs eight episodes later with next to no character development, despite having claimed more screentime in those episodes than George. Highly-regarded "Battlestar Galactica" veteran Mary McDonnell also makes an appearance as Dr. Virginia Dixon, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome. The writers clearly don't know what to do with her, and the characterization comes off more slapstick than it should, surprising because "Grey's" uses subtlety to great effect on Owen and others. The new intern characters whom our residents mentor this season also fail to make significant impressions or story contributions.

Lastly and most significantly, the abrupt midseason dismissal of Brooke Smith's Dr. Erica Hahn perplexes because it comes just as viewers are beginning to get to know her after three seasons of recurring appearances. Though her lesbian storyline with Callie is at times awkwardly written, I still feel like there was potential for Dr. Hahn to be explored further than her early exit ultimately allowed.

It has recently been reported that "Grey's" is adding more new doctors to its cast in Season Six, likely to compensate for the temporary absences of the very-pregnant Ellen Pompeo (Meredith) and busily moviemaking Heigl. Although the inconsistency of screentime in Season Five demonstrates that the cast is already overloaded, one can only hope that the new additions weave into ongoing storylines and contribute more than most of their immediate predecessors did.

Despite all the shortcomings, to dismiss The Complete Fifth Season as a complete misfire would be a mistake. It does merit a look on DVD, on which it arrived as a 7-disc set with the somewhat nonsensical subtitle "More Moments." Note that due to the serialized nature of the show, it sometimes becomes impossible to discuss an episode without revealing spoilers for episodes which preceded it, so if you are considering buying this season blindly, I recommend skipping to the presentation quality section of this review.

Bernadette Peters plays Sarabeth Breyers, one of three women needing medical attention in Season 5 premiere "Dream a Little Dream of Me." After being impaled by an icicle, Cristina (Sandra Oh) imagines life as an old woman.

Disc 1

1-2. Dream a Little Dream of Me, Parts 1 and 2 (43:00, 43:02) (Originally aired September 25, 2008)
In the two-hour season opener, Meredith is concerned about the future now that she and Derek have their happily ever after; trauma surgeon Owen Hunt arrives at Seattle Grace and connects with Cristina; Erica is concerned about her teaching abilities; Mark (Eric Dane) taunts Lexie (Chyler Leigh) about her unrequited feelings for George; and Seattle Grace's drop in national rankings riles up Dr. Webber (James Pickens Jr.). Meanwhile, an ice storm brings three happily married women (Tony winner Bernadette Peters, Mariette Hartley and Kathy Baker) to the hospital without their husbands, and Callie (Sara Ramirez) wants to freeze a man to save his life.
Season 5 clip "Should Have":
Despite airing as a continuous two-hour block on its premiere airing, the episode is presented in two separate parts here.

3. Here Comes the Flood (43:03) (Originally aired October 9, 2008)
Dr. Webber moves quickly to address Seattle Grace's falling rankings, but first must deal with a plumbing leak that floods the hospital. Happy Meredith tries to quit therapy, but a new crisis arises when Derek announces that Alex and Izzie must move out without consulting her; George can't find a place to retake his intern exam; and Erica and Callie fight over Mark's knowledge of their relationship.

4. Brave New World (43:03) (Originally aired October 16, 2008)
Derek finds Meredith's mother's diaries; experiencing jitters for her first date with Erica, Callie turns awkwardly to Bailey (Chandra Wilson) for advice; and Cristina finds the hospital's dermatology wing has a decidedly different mood from the surgical floor.

The patients are pigs under new head of trauma Owen Hunt in "Life During Wartime." August Schellenberg (of "Free Willy" fame) plays Clay Bedonie, a Navajo Indian who wants his heart taken out.

Disc 2

5. There's No "I" in Team (43:00) (Originally aired October 23, 2008)
Bailey heads up a "domino procedure" consisting of six kidney transplants where each transplant requires the success of the previous one in order to ensure none of the donors drop out. The results of the clinical trial that brought Meredith and Derek back together last season are published in a major medical journal, but only Derek receives credit.

6. Life During Wartime (42:56) (Originally aired October 30, 2008)
Owen Hunt returns from Iraq, becomes Seattle Grace's new head of Trauma, and ruffles feathers when he has residents operate on live pigs. Meanwhile, Dr. Webber requires Bailey to remove a young girl's inoperable tumor, and Erica discovers her sexuality, but Callie doesn't respond as expected.

7. Rise Up (42:59) (Originally aired November 6, 2008)
Izzie's mistakes come back to haunt her as the patient who was to have received the heart she stole for Denny in Season 2 is admitted to Seattle Grace. Derek is annoyed by Cristina's presence in his and Meredith's relationship, and the prospect of a solo surgery causes competition among the residents. This episode marked the final appearance of Brooke Smith as Dr. Hahn.

8. These Ties That Bind (42:58) (Originally aired November 13, 2008)
Denny's "ghost" continues to follow Izzie; Meredith's old friend Sadie returns to Seattle and becomes an intern at the hospital; the rest of the staff is confused by incoming Dr. Dixon's (Mary McDonnell) odd behavior; and Lexie takes charge because the interns aren't being taught properly.

Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Izzie (Katherine Heigl) cuddle topless after some ghost sex. Playing a serial killer needing medical attention before his execution, Eric Stoltz seeks "Sympathy for the Devil."

Disc 3

9. In the Midnight Hour (43:03) (Originally aired November 20, 2008)
In by far the worst episode of the series, Izzie and Denny consummate their relationship. Meredith and Cristina must bail out their interns when an unauthorized surgery on Sadie goes wrong. Later, Cristina receives a visit from Owen.

10. All By Myself (43:01) (Originally aired December 4, 2008)
Dr. Webber announces that Cristina would have been awarded the solo surgery but instead needs to choose her replacement as punishment,
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leading all the others to suck up to her. Meanwhile, Izzie continues sleeping with Denny; Alex has something to tell her; and Mark impresses Lexie by attempting a risky surgery.

11. Wish You Were Here (42:56) (Originally aired January 8, 2009)
Death row inmate William Dunn (Eric Stoltz) is admitted to the hospital and causes friction among the doctors as they disagree on how to treat him; birthday girl Izzie confesses to Alex that she is seeing Denny; and Seattle Grace welcomes a new pediatric surgeon, Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw), with whom Bailey doesn't see eye-to-eye. Capshaw recurs for the rest of the season and has been promoted to series regular for Season 6.

12. Sympathy for the Devil (43:02) (Originally aired January 15, 2009)
Derek's mother (Tyne Daly) arrives in Seattle and Meredith worries she won't like her; Owen and Cristina are set to go on their first date; and inmate William offers to donate his organs to Bailey and Arizona's dying patient.

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Page 1: Show Discussion, Discs 1-3
Page 2: Discs 4-6, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed September 23, 2009.

Text copyright 2009 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2008-09 ShondaLand, The Mark Gordon Company, and ABC Studios, 2009 Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
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