The premiere episode of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" fell flat.
In stark contrast, last season ended in a devastating plane crash. Fans weren't sure who had survived. Meredith Grey's little sister Lexie Grey was dead, and her estranged lover, Mark Sloan, was on the rocks. Meredith's gut-wrenching screams, Arizona Robbins's uncertain state and Cristina Yang's general "yangitude" left us waiting with baited breath for the new season.
Then the series skipped over the initial fallout of the disaster in the season premiere. Instead, the second episode revealed what happened immediately after the crash. Fans learn pretty quickly that Eric Dane's "McSteamy" is in a coma and scheduled to be unplugged from life support. Jessica Capshaw's depressed and bedridden Arizona is revealed to have lost her leg in the accident. Sandra Oh's Cristina is too devastated to board a plane, and Justin Chambers's Alex Karev is off to greener pastures.
When an airplane goes down in a ball of fire killing key cast members, there's almost no way to soothe irate fans. While our favorite characters are grieving, so are we. To watch playboy Mark fall apart at the death of his beloved was beyond upsetting. The only way for the show to come back is to bring fans through the stages of grief gently.
It's understandable that Shonda Rhimes and company chose to skip the initial post big bang moments in the premiere. The thinking may have been to ease avid watchers back into the storyline. Unfortunately, the effect was the opposite. Viewers were outside of the fray, feeling like something was missed.
"Grey's" is the ultimate soap opera. In a good soap, there's undying love and hate; Shakespearean romance and breakups; and yes, life and death. Fans need to be in it to win it. By giving us time to recover, we were robbed of our tears. We lost Mark's handsome face and acerbic wit just as much as his hospital buddies did. We don't want to just watch Callie crying, we want to sob it out with her.
The show now risks failing, but the hit hospital drama can easily recover. The challenge is that fans don't want to jump on board the stories of the peppy new interns. We wanted to ride it out with our original crew as they grew up. We're still on board, but we need to be brought back into the story.
So, can this show be saved? The optimistic vote says yes. We have faith in the gifted Shonda Rhimes. Whatever happens next, we'll be watching. It just had better happen pretty quickly.
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