Take two Addisons and call me in the morning

Lightweight `Practice' a spinoff without edge

September 26, 2007|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun television critic

Angry professional women, emotionally messed-up men and a common kitchen area in the workplace where the two can meet, eat and fight - these are the core elements of Private Practice, the Grey's Anatomy spinoff premiering tonight on ABC.

And while the series created by Shonda Rhimes brings some outstanding performers like Amy Brenneman and Audra McDonald back to weekly TV, tonight's season opener is not very appealing. Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery (Kate Walsh), the character who is supposed to lead viewers from Seattle Grace Hospital to the new show's setting at the Oceanside Wellness Center in Santa Monica, Calif., seems to have lost her edge somewhere along the way.

The premise was established in May with a "backdoor pilot" episode of Grey's that found Addison visiting Oceanside, a small group practice led by her medical school friend, Dr. Naomi Bennett (McDonald), a fertility and hormone specialist. Also practicing medicine at the upscale, co-op clinic is Dr. Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs), Naomi's former husband.

Remember Dr. Pete Wilder (Tim Daly) and the kiss he shared with Addison at the end of the episode last spring? He's front and center tonight, and there's way too much talk about that kiss - talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.

"I did not come down here because you kissed me," Addison insists to Wilder.

"You so moved down here because I kissed you," he counters in what is intended to serve as romantic badinage.

And, before you know it, the two are side-by-side in what passes for the clinic's operating room trying to save the life of a pregnant woman and her baby.

The biggest problem is the inconsistency in tone. Rhimes has not yet figured out what to substitute for the life-and-death dramatic stakes that come with a big-city hospital setting. While she packs tonight's episode with an emotional breakdown, a birth and a death, it all feels forced in a way that it rarely does on Grey's. And she never strikes a balance between wit and medical woe.

And why are these women so angry?

"Stop talking so I can think," Dr. Violet Turner (Brenneman) demands of a male colleague who is trying to offer some relevant data on a client in crisis.

"Stop Addison-ing me," Addison yells at another male doctor who is trying to get her attention during another emergency situation.

Calm down, doctors.

Let's all take a deep breath - and hope Rhimes can find a formula in coming weeks that will make better use of so much talent.

david.zurawik@baltsun.com

Online

See more photos from Private Practice at baltimoresun.com/privatepractice

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