When I sat down with the DVD set for Season 3, I did so almost begrudgingly. Had it been seasons 1 or 2, I would’ve been like a kid on Christmas morning, tearing off the plastic wrapping and promptly removing the first disc in preparation for hours of Grey’s goodness. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that while the first two seasons of this series were totally addicting, the third season was seriously lacking. Seriously.
For those of you who have resisted drinking Shonda Rhimes’ kool-aid, Grey’s Anatomy is a drama series that centers on Meredith Grey and her fellow interns as they struggle through their surgical internship. Meredith is a sensitive but narcissistic woman who has an on-again-off-again romance with Dr. Derek Shepherd (Dempsey). There have been problems in their relationship since Meredith found out that Derek was still married to Addison, a neo-natal surgeon whom Derek left when he found out she was sleeping with his best friend, Mark Sloan a.k.a. McSteamy (Dane). Derek, Mark and Addison are all currently attendings at Seattle Grace. Derek’s the head of Neurosurgery, Addison’s head of the “gyny squad” and Sloan is the head of Plastic Surgery. After Meredith fell out with Derek, she started dating Finn (Chris O’Donnell) , the McVet.
Meredith’s closest friend is Cristina (Oh), a tightly wound and extremely ambitious intern. As of the beginning of season three, Cristina is dating an attending, Burke (Washington). Meredith’s two housemates are George and Izzie. George (Knight) is the timid one of the group. Unlike the other interns, he lacks confidence in his abilities. As of the beginning of season 3, George is dating Callie, an orthopedic surgeon who doesn’t totally fit in among George’s friends due to her overly forward nature. Izzie (Heigl) is the beautiful but often overly emotional one. Finally, there’s Alex (Chambers). He generally sleeps around and is often very insensitive, though that’s slowly started to change as the seasons have progressed. Izzie and Alex had a brief fling a while back but that fell apart in the second season when Izzie fell for a patient with a failing heart, Denny. Denny died at the end of season two and left Izzie completely heartbroken.
The only other three characters worth mentioning are Ellis Grey, Chief Webber and Miranda Bailey. Ellis is Meredith’s mother, who was once a brilliant and dedicated surgeon (but a terrible mom) and now has Alzheimer’s disease. Webber is the Chief of Surgery whose wife left him because he never spent enough time with her. And Bailey (Wilson) is a resident and responsible for the interns.
All caught up? Good. So getting back to Season 3, what I found when I started the rewatch was that, despite initially thinking that the third season royally sucked, the first half of it really isn’t that bad. If you stop watching the season right before the first episode in the three-part block involving the ferry crash, it’s a pretty decent season.
Season 3 starts up the day after “the prom” (which took place in the Season 2 finale). Izzie admitted to being the one who cut Denny’s LVAD wire, which resulted in him being bumped up the doner list and receiving a new heart. Her admission caused her to be booted from the intern program. So not only is she completely grief-stricken after his death, but she’s also unemployed. She’s lost everything. Eventually though, she’s allowed to come back to Seattle Grace but is on probation and is forced to shadow the other interns. She’s not permitted to interact with the patients or scrub in on any surgeries. She also has to decide what to do with the extremely large sum of money that Denny left to her in his will.
Meredith is dealing with choosing between Finn, the kind, loyal veterinarian who thinks the world of her, or Derek, the man she’s really in love with but who hurt her badly when he returned to his wife, Addison. So Meredith tries dating both of them, and naturally, that doesn’t work out too well, but a fortunate (and fairly humorous) incident involving an appendectomy resolves the issue once and for all. She does manage to deal with some of her issues with her mother in the episode when Ellis is lucid and for some reason, can remember who she is. Apparently this can happen to Alzheimer’s victims though it doesn’t last for very long. Ellis’ lucidity gives Meredith the chance to really communicate with her mother. The episode also gives us the opportunity to understand why Meredith has so many personal issues. Her mother is and has always been, extremely demanding. Meredith has never been able to live up to her mother’s expectations and this becomes evident in the episode.
George’s problems involve his father’s health issues, his overbearing family, and his confusing relationship with Callie. When his father is admitted to the hospital, George has to put up with his brothers insisting on calling him Georgie and refusing to acknowledge his status as a doctor. And while Callie is fine telling George she loves him and moving in with him when Webber evicts her from the little apartment she made for herself in the basement of the hospital, George isn’t sure he’s ready to take things to the next level.
After being shot at the end of the second season, Burke is still recovering from the brain surgery. He’s got a tremor in his hand that will certainly affect his work as a surgeon so he decides not to tell anyone about it. Cristina eventually finds out and consents to helping him hide it. This means she’s got to scrub in on all of his surgeries and be ready to take over when his hand gets shaky. People start to become suspicious and the stress of keeping Burke’s secret inevitably becomes too much for her.
As for the non-recurring characters, there are some great one-episode story arcs involving some of the patients. Abigail Breslin guest stars in one episode as a girl who thinks she has super powers because she can’t feel pain. Then there’s the conjoined twins episode in which the two brothers are trapped in a love triangle. In another episode, there’s a guy who has a problem with his brain that causes him to be overly blunt (to the point of rudeness, but its hilarious). While none of these patients stick around for more than an episode, they all serve to inspire the main characters in some way or another.
Everyone has their drama in the first half of the season but this is why we love the characters. It’s not until the infamous ferry crash that things seem to crumble in terms of the character arcs within the show. George and Callie elope and return to deal with their friends’ indifference or complete disapproval of their union. Meredith nearly dies and spends an entire episode chatting with dead patients in an after-life version of Seattle Grace. Alex gets too close to a Jane Doe who was nearly killed in the ferry crash and that whole story drags on until the end of the season. Meredith continues to push Derek away and also has a hard time finding a place in her life for her father and his wife. Cristina gets engaged to Burke but she is often resistant towards his ideas regarding the wedding and on marriage in general.
Addison cant decide if she wants a real relationship with Mark or if it might be better to fool around with Alex. She eventually takes a few days off to head to L.A. to visit some old friends who run an alternative medicine practice. This two-part episode serves as a backdoor pilot for the new ABC series, Private Practice and leaves much to be desired. Meanwhile, all of the attendings are trying to get Webber to nominate them to take over as chief when he retires.
The whole second half of the season is a mess. Everyone is either sleeping together or pushing each other away (and sometimes both). When the season ends, things are totally up in the air for just about everyone and, while that does make for a good way to start up the fourth season, it leaves many regular viewers feeling disappointed by how things end. Some of the characters became downright unlikable. Izzie, for example, goes from a character many of us feel genuine sympathy for to a totally mixed-up emotional disaster who makes more than one impulsive and selfish decision.
So as I said, the season isn't nearly as bad as I remembered it. I attribute my initial opinion of Season 3 to the mess of story arcs in the second half. That said, the first half is pretty great and definitely worth rewatching if you want to see the characters as they were before everything went to hell. Otherwise, we can hope that Rhimes is done pushing all of these doctors into a “darker place” and is ready to rebuild them into the likable people they were pre-season 3 when the fourth season premieres later this month.
The Grey’s Anatomy Season Three Seriously Extended edition comes complete with bonus features, including three audio commentaries and four extended episodes.
There are seven discs in the set with four episodes on the first five discs, three episodes on the sixth disc and two episodes on the seventh disc (which is where you’ll find most of the bonus features). When you hit play on each disc, the theme song score plays as black and white blurry images of all of the characters flash on the screen. This goes on for a few seconds but you can bypass it by hitting the menu button on your remote. The main menu has brief clips from different episodes with more of the opening credits music playing in the background. As is the common custom for DVDs these days, there’s a play-all option that will allow you to start from the first episode and watch all four episodes play without having to go back to the main menu between each one. There’s also an episode selection option. The menu for that contains a still shot of one of the characters and a mellow version of the show’s score plays in the background in a loop.
In terms of the “seriously extended” episodes, there are four of them and they’re not all that extended. Maybe a few minutes of extra footage is added to each and unless you’ve seen the episode as it aired on TV more than a few times, you probably wont be able to tell what’s been added. I couldn’t. As for the commentaries, they feature some of the actors from the show. Between the three episodes you’ll hear the voices of Kate Walsh, Chandra Wilson, Ellen Pompeo, Kate Burton and Sandra Oh. While all of these women are fantastic in this series, their commentaries are pretty weak. They throw in a few facts about the episode and the series in general but other than that, its just a lot of random chit-chat.
Sandra Oh puts the most effort in to her commentary by trying to come up with interesting things to talk about. Considering she does her commentary by herself, she does a decent job of making general small talk while watching the episode. I was especially impressed with how she seems to know the names of a lot of the random background-actors in the show. It’s also funny to learn that she doesn’t watch the show and even funnier when, during a point in the episode, she exclaims loudly at something that happens. Apparently she had no idea the scene took place or otherwise had forgotten all about it. Oh’s commentary is amusing but in general, the commentaries aren’t that interesting and wouldn’t be worth listening to unless you’re a huge fan of the actors and just want to hear them talk.
The bonus features are mildly entertaining. Rather than “deleted scenes,” the set has “unaired scenes” which are listed under “Dissecting Grey’s Anatomy” in the bonus features menu. The unaired scenes are ordered according to episode, which is helpful and some of the scenes are actually worth watching if only to wonder why they decided to cut them out. The “Making Rounds with Patrick Dempsey” featurette is a short video, which focuses on Dempsey’s passion for racing cars. If you’re a fan of Dempsey’s or NASCAR, this might be an interesting feature but, while I like Dempsey, I’m more interested in his work on the show and this feature has little to do with that (with the exception of Rhimes commenting a couple of times on Dempsey’s involvement in racing cars).
“Prescription For Success: Jane Doe Unmasked” features Elizabeth Reaser, the woman who plays the Jane Doe from the ferry accident. As I thought that storyline went on for way too long, I wasn’t sure I’d care much about this feature but it turned out to be very interesting. The special effects make-up people talk about the work they did to mangle Jane/Ava/Rebecca’s face and teeth. The bonus features also include a blooper reel and a feature about Ellen Pompeo.
I can’t say I am overly impressed by the extras on this set but, as I wasn’t totally in love with the season, I’m not sure I really had much of an interest in the additional features. This release will appeal to die-hard Grey’s fans who want to eat up every morsel of info they can about the show, but for casual fans the set doesn’t really offer that much in the way of fascinating bonus material.