Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Grey's Anatomy

Let me go on record in saying that I’m not that fond of Meredith Grey, the pivotal character in ABC’s hit nighttime soap opera/medical drama/relationship comedy Grey’s Anatomy. Dr. Grey is at turns whiney and naïve, self-absorbed and clueless, wistfully foolish and earnestly self-flagellating.

When I say that I’m not that fond of Meredith, I mean that I wouldn’t want the character as friend (for all of the reasons above and more) but, that said, as the focal point of a sterling ensemble of characters, she is more than fine. Ellen Pompeo plays first year intern Meredith with this pouty Ally McBeal meets Renee Zellwegger thing that, for the most part, works (though her goopy narration and constant moping both do tend to grate at times.)

Her star-struck romance with Dr. Derek Sheppard (Patrick Dempsey)…given the too-precious-by-half nickname of “Dr. McDreamy”…is so tedious now (what with him being in love with Meredith but having gone back to his cheating wife out of a sense of duty and honor and the two of them…Meredith and Derek…making soulful doe eyes at each other at every turn) that it derails the show for me whenever it comes to the fore (if the doctors Sheppard are going to stay together, Meredith needs to get over it and get back into the mix…I was hoping that the bomb squad guy in the most recent episodes was going to be a possible love interest but, after teasing us with he and Meredith engaging in that “bickering-as-foreplay” thing that people on TV do when they’re falling in love, they blew him up.)

When it’s clicking (and lately it has been doing so more often than not), Grey’s Anatomy walks that tight line between soap opera and medical drama with aplomb.

On the soap opera side, the relationship between the imperious Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) and the nakedly ambitious Dr. Christina Yang (the wondrous Sandra Oh) is more interesting by far than the Grey-Shepherd-Shepherd triangle. Even the sometimes awkward relationship between the earnest ex-model Dr. Izzy Stevens (the radiant Katherine Heigl) and the caddish Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) has more juice.

The medical drama side is well-served without too much mind-numbing medical jargon. And the comedic elements are never allowed to take over the show.

The rest of the regular ensemble…the sad sack (but often quietly-heroic) Dr. George O’Malley (the delightful T.R. Knight) along with the tough love Resident Dr. Miranda Bailey (the sassy Chandra Wilson), the long-suffering Chief Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.), and prodigal wife Dr. Addison Sheppard (Kate Walsh)…all bring nuance and color to their characters and the overall ambiance of the show.

Grey’s Anatomy is what it sets out to be…a good show with characters and situations engaging enough to make you want to tune in each week…and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Random Notes (Grammys '06 Edition)

Okay…the broadcast of the 48th Grammy Awards was a mess. Bad camera angles, numerous audio malfunctions, awkward pauses, glimpses of people working backstage, bad transitions, a zillion commercials, padded out to 3 ½ hours…it was a mess. They chose to go without a host this year…and that was probably a bad idea too.

Some of the performances were pretty good, though:

Gorillaz and De La Soul opened the show with “Feel Good Inc.” (the rappers being a bit more animated than the too-cool-for-the-room cartoon characters :-) followed by Madonna (who, judging by the stylish leotard she was wearing, apparently came directly to show from a workout) and bunch of dancers gyrating through “Hung Up”.

Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys dedicated a couple of a cappella bars of “Higher Ground” to Coretta Scott King before giving out an award to Kelly Clarkson.

(Ooo look, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are sitting together in the audience…ain’t love grand?)

Coldplay (Chris Martin really likes that “prancing in the audience thing”, don’t he?), John Legend, and Sugarland (missing a member and plagued by mike problems) kept the show moving.

U2 kicked things up a level with “Vertigo” (though they got lost in the smoke there for a while) and then Mary J. Blige joined them to raise the roof with “One” (see above).

Kelly Clarkson (who had bawled through her acceptance of the aforementioned award) was in fine voice on “Because of You”

Sir Paul McCartney performed “Fine Line” and then got frisky with a rockin’ rendition of “Helter Skelter”

(Wait…are the Black Eyed Peas finished announcing the Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Male yet? They do babble on, don't they?)

Comeback girl Mariah Carey opened with “We Belong Together” and then went gospel with a choir on a soaring “Carry Me Home”

(Why is Teri Hatcher wearing a negligee?)

Keith Urban (thanks for dressing up for the occasion, guy) sang “You’ll Think of Me” on top of plastic box and then joined Faith Hill for a sprightly “The Lucky One”

The “tribute” to Sly and the Family Stone was…okay, let’s be charitable again and say “ ragged.” John Legend, Joss Stone, Van Hunt, Maroon 5, Fantasia, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Robert Randolph, and others (what the hell is Randy Jackson doing playing bass with the band? Shouldn’t he be at home practicing his “hip” banter for the next edition of American Idol?) stumbled through tepid versions of Sly hits with the man himself (resplendent with a blond Mohawk) came out to lead the ensemble in comparatively lively version of “I Want to Take You Higher”.

Jay-Z and Linkin Park brought things back up a bit with “Numb/Encore” and then they slipped into a lovely version of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” where they were joined by Sir Paul himself.

Bruce Springsteen got off the most political statement of the night with a simple cry of “bring ‘em home!” at the end of his Iraq War inspired “Devils and Dust”

And then there was the Kanye Show. Mr. West and Jamie Foxx put on an extravaganza with marching bands, dancers, and costume changes as they ripped through “Gold Digger” and “Touch the Sky”. It was gloriously over-the-top and fun.

Christina Aguilera looked sultry in her glittering gown and platinum blonde hair as she joined Herbie Hancock for “A Song for You”. (That she oversang the song goes almost without saying, doesn’t it?)

(That Recording Academy President guy is a long-winded son of a gun, ain’t he? We get it, you guys are wonderful and you’re rebuilding New Orleans all by yourselves…now shaddap already!)

After U2 picked up the Album of the Year (0 for 2 in that category, Kanye), a tribute to New Orleans featured Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Irma Thomas, and The Edge on a loping version of Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can” (featuring more bad audio on the vocals.)

Bruce Springsteen and Sam Moore joined the group for “In the Midnight Hour” a soulful tribute to late Wilson Pickett.

The broadcast is just over as I write this and I’ve already forgotten who won what (I know U2 and Miss Clarkson and Mr. Legend were up there a couple of times each for stuff.)

Hopefully the broadcast of the 49th Annual Grammy Awards will be less snakebit next year.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Stones at the Super Bowl

As games go, Super Bowl XL was only so-so (occasional flashes of football brilliance but with lots and lots of ragged moments along the way.) As Super Bowl halftime shows, the Rolling Stones’ three-song set was also so-so (occasional flashes of rock and roll brilliance but with lots of ragged moments along the way.)

But, that said, it was fine…theatrics at a minimum, the Stones played their tunes…”Start Me Up”, “Rough Justice”, and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”…took a bow and quit the stage. Mick Jagger strutted his skinny butt around the circular stage while the designated dancers shimmied and mugged for the cameras; Keith Richards looked like he couldn’t wait for the set to be over.

“Start Me Up” was…oh, let’s be charitable and just say, again, that it was “ragged”. “Rough Justice”, arguably the best song from last year’s A Bigger Bang, was tighter and “Satisfaction”, which Mick impishly said could have been played at the first Super Bowl 40 years ago, was also fine. ABC’s nervous censors (still lingering in the shadow of Janet Jackson’s nipple from that now-infamous halftime show a couple of years ago) saw fit to blank out some lyrics in both of the first two songs (seemed silly to me but I guess they would rather to be safe than sorry.)

Whatever the NFL paid the band (these guys don’t do stuff for free for the most part), they probably got their money’s worth.