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Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Fourth Season - Expanded - television series DVD / medical drama DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 5 stars
Actors: Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, T.R. Knight
Creators: Shonda Rhimes   Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
DVD release: 09 September 2008   Runtime: 740 minutes
(5 discs)
Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
Features: Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Subtitles (French, Spanish), "New Docs on the Block," On Set with Patrick and Eric, Good Medicine: Favorite Scenes, Extended episode "Forever Young" (w/ commentary), Audio commentary w/ Chyler Leigh and associate producer Karin Gleason, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers

The stuff of legends, "McDreamy" and his Dr. Grey are back in season four of ABC's Grey's Anatomy. Concrete, arteries, suicide attempts, messy surgeries and messier love lives fill seventeen chaotic episodes. Patrick Dempsey still heads up the cast, along with many familiar faces and several new ones.

This is far removed from the fluffy mushy daytime soaps. The 'who is gettin' busy with who' stuff is there to offset the unbelievably raw drama that is the meat of the show. Outside of the OR, a constant theme in season four is limitations: testing boundaries, finding balance, setting guidelines, for life and work. Each of the characters in Grey's Anatomy is very different, but in one way or another they are easy to relate to. While Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) struggles to reinvent herself into a whole and healthy woman, half-sister Lexie Grey (newcomer Chyler Leigh) pushes her way in as a new first year. Izzie (Katherine Heigl) and George (T.R. Knight) are both in a seemingly constant state of confused flux, while Dr. Yang (Sandra Oh) is cold-heartedly moving beyond Burke (Isaiah Washington) and hungry for blood - which is often withheld from new cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Hahn (Brooke Smith). Dr. Sloane's (Eric Dane) and Dr. Karev's (Justin Chambers) characters shift dramatically from what we've seen before, and Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Dr. Webber's (James Pickens, Jr.) personal lives clash emotionally with their professional world. Nurse Rose (Lauren Stamile) joins the mix as a new romantic partner for Derek Shepard (Patrick Dempsey).

Inside the operating room, it gets tense and ugly more often than not. This is not a television show for the squeamish - fair warning! The wrong person sometimes dies. Worse, the wrong person sometimes lives. There is gushing blood and spilling guts, with needles to eyeballs and massive tumors; there are tears and anger and fear. There is pain, both physical and emotional, that takes people to their breaking point and far, far beyond. The process of life and death is the backbone of Grey's Anatomy, and it is all very, very messy. The episode with the four paramedics in the wreck crams a myriad of extreme emotion into an evening's viewing. The one with Bailey's son is wrenching and hopeful all at the same time. Meredith and Derek run a clinical trial, losing life in effort to save it.

Meredith's voice as the often-time narrator makes the show all the more human. She is a flawed, broken person. She comes from an ugly home and struggles every day to become the person she wants herself to be. She talks about growth and needs and wants and the times that we fall down. Beyond Meredith, however, one of the most appealing things about Grey's Anatomy is the realistic cross-section of people chosen for the cast. It has a much less Hollywood feel and much more 'real people' appearance - that is, excellent actors who aren't the typical show-biz beauties but who offer real imperfect and captivating faces, capable of offering more realistic emotions. Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey especially shines this time around.

The extras are there, but many don't take the time to absorb them - the show itself being the highlight, obviously. Outtakes, previews and insightful interviews are some of the offerings outside the episodes themselves. Given the nature of this drama, hidden among the extras is one serious suggestion for life - donate blood.

Set in thriving and beautiful downtown Seattle, Grey's Anatomy in season four is just as powerful and thought-provoking as it was on day one. Be prepared to laugh. Be prepared with tissues. Be prepared to confront life. Because life in this hospital will demand everything there is to take, and more. As expected.
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reviewed by Carolynn Evans
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