Not Every Ride in Shondaland is Exciting, but Grey's and Private Practice Still Amuse

Shondaland, is, of course, the production company of Shonda Rhimes, the brains behind Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. If you always watch to the end of the show, you know that the logo is a roller coaster surrounding a big cartoon heart. Considering the emotional ups and downs of her flagship show, it's an appropriate image.

This week, Private Practice gave us another patient-centric episode. Violet and Sam had to deal with her therapy patient and his wife's extreme nosebleed; Cooper treated Smurfette and her sisters; Addison's patient was a 35-year-old virgin; and Pete chipped in when muscle relaxants didn't do the trick. Pete, by the way, is still dealing with major issues stemming from his wife's death six years ago. Naomi didn't have any patients this week, but she sure did eat a lot of cake.

We are slowly starting to delve more into the characters' personal backstories. We've seen the most of Naomi and Sam, and their recent divorce: I like the way there is some tension there, but they aren't hostile towards each other. Addison is slowly, predictably, growing closer to Pete, but aside from her friendship with Naomi, she hasn't gone through much personal development. Most of all, I really wish they would give Violet something to do besides pine for her now-married ex-boyfriend. Maybe if we had seen him or witnessed that breakup it would be a little more interesting.

Hopefully, Private Practice will continue to improve as we have more opportunities to get to know the characters. Shonda Rhimes ought to take a cue from Grey's Anatomy's success and consider introducing a new character or two to shake things up before long.

One of the reasons I think Grey's Anatomy has been so successful as an ensemble show is that not too many characters were introduced in-depth at once. The show started out with the core group of Meredith, Izzie, Cristina, and George. Eventually, we got to know Derrick and Burke through Meredith and Cristina. Alex, who started out as a foil for Izzie, gradually got more interesting, as did Bailey and Chief Webber. New characters (Addison, Callie, Mark) were introduced gradually, which allowed more time to let us get to know them naturally.

Hey, speaking of Grey's, how are things going in Seattle this season? Poor Derrick, with Addison and Burke gone, he's got no one to talk to. Neither does Callie, and they both have to settle for Mark. With Burke's departure, Cristina and the viewing audience both needed closure, and bringing back Diahann Caroll's formidable Momma last week was a brilliant way to do that without needing to further employ Isaiah Washington.

I am getting a little tired of Meredith and her issues (oh, wait, I've always been tired of Meredith and her issues), so I'm not too interested in her are-they-or-are-they-not broken up storyline with Derrick. Her sister, Lexie, is kind of irritating, but I do feel bad for her. It's not her fault Thatcher Grey wasn't part of Meredith's childhood. Most of all, I'm really disappointed that the writers have decided to continue the Izzie/George romantic storyline. I always loved that they were such close friends, but they just don't make a believable couple. Plus, Callie is my girl.

I love my twice-weekly visits to Shondaland. Everybody's hair looks fabulous (almost--I have a longstanding beef with whoever is in charge of Ellen Pompeo's raggedy coif), patient care is never too urgent to prevent a tryst in the on-call room, and Veronica Mars' second-cutest boyfriend is a bearer of delicious cakes. Nevertheless, I'm sorry to say that Private Practice while good, could be better, and Grey's Anatomy is not as good this season as it has been in years past. Oh, I'll keep watching, make no mistake about that, but I'm hoping for some improvements soon.

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Amy Kane spends as much quality time with her television as possible, when she's not busy at her day job as a cube dweller.