CliqueClack TV

Private Practice – The gang grows up

Does Shonda Rhimes follow the path of 'Bones' or 'House' regarding Addison and Sam?

- Season 4, Episode 1 - "Take Two"

Private Practice is finally shaking up the television romance pattern. In the past fifty years, television typically showed two primary relationship models:

  • Marriage and/or the nuclear family (Leave it to Beaver, Bewitched, Mad About You)
  • Single-life and/or Delayed Relationship Gratification (Remington Steele, Moonlighting, Bones, I Dream of Jeannie)

Although the former dominated television’s inception, as our society changed, so did media’s representations. While the shift allowed writers to explore facets outside those listed above, some shows doggedly cling and clung to the second ideal. Why? Who knows? Maybe they felt it maintained vicarious viewer investment. Maybe they believed it sustained sexual tension, while evading the mundane tasks of real-world relationships. Maybe they just had a fear of the Moonlighting effect. While I used to support that mentality, after watching Bones’ season premiere, I’ve realized it’s slightly unrealistic to keep physically appealing, intelligent people in the 30-50 age range deliberately single and in a pseudo-post-adolescent relationship stage. While some shows still stick to that template, others (House, Cougar Town, and even Legend of the Seeker’s second season) have decided to allow their characters to develop the romantic course without disrupting the show’s comedy, supporting relationships, or focus. Somewhat surprisingly, considering its cotton candy start, Private Practice has joined the relationship bandwagon.

When Private Practice spun-off four seasons ago it offered vicarious confectionery fun where exceedingly attractive, well sculpted, highly talented actors played highly attractive, well sculpted, exceedingly talented doctors. I enjoyed their musical beds and didn’t want Naomi/Violet/Addison to stop. I loved the ideal of 20-something, worshipful Dell pursuing chocoholic Naomi. I loved Addison and Pete’s hot-sexy elevator musk. I enjoyed Cooper and Violet’s uber-intimate friendship. But, after three seasons of Sam and Naomi, Pete and Addison, Sheldon and Violet/Charlotte and Charlotte and Cooper falling in and out of bed together, I wanted something more.

Luckily, the season opener delivered. The hot, sexy, almost-happy relationship montage, which opened and closed the show, set the tone, like book-ends. While television sometimes portrays long term relationships as slightly boring and occasionally didactic, relationship maintenance is just as complicated as the pursuit. Even after that awesome silent scene with Violet, Pete admitted he isn’t great with marriage. Sheldon admitted he’s still carrying a torch for Charlotte. And, Charlotte/Cooper want to get married, but are thwarted by minor complications. If the show focuses on developing relationships, while maintaining the same level of writing, I think they can pull it off.

Regarding everything else, Dell, Amelia, the case of the week, William, Dink, and the surprise ending, I thought this episode did (mostly) well in terms of balance. While I almost viewed the opening as too glib (yet humorous) it set another tone for the show. The characters missed Dell and loved him, but they’ve moved on. I feel the same. I loved the character, but he didn’t seem to fit. However, Rhimes successfully added other characters (Sheldon, Amelia, Dink) and gave Dell everything but the kitchen sink (drug user wife, dead wife, child, office).

Returning to couples, I loved watching Sam teach Dink to man up. I don’t know if Naomi deliberately pushed Dink away as a catalyst, but I loved the smile she shared with Sam after Dink’s arrival. Is it just me or is Dink partially taking Dell’s place (the young guy with the bowl cut that “Saomi” teaches)? Speaking of Naomi, she’s back with William again? Hasn’t he run away from her twice already without a forwarding address? Sure, he’s trying to let her lead her life, but didn’t the show end with Naomi in Fife’s arms? Is he coming back? I hope so. Regarding the surprise ending, I think Rhimes did a good job with that. The Sam-Addison relationship could have the most repercussions. Sliding the characters into it while keeping it on the ‘down low’ helps the show and the audience adjust. I’m actually fine if they keep Sam-Addison together, yet apart, as in this episode, as I don’t want a Moonlighting to occur.

Either way, great premiere. Let me know what you guys thought: Do you still miss Dell? Was the opening too glib? How were French Stewart and Currie Graham as guest stars? Awesome, right? Will you miss Amelia? What do you think about the ending? Any relationship forecasts? Am I the only one who hopes they do an Alice themed episode?

Photo Credit: ABC

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