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Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Fifth Season - 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
Creator: Shonda Rhimes   Studio: ABC Studios
DVD release: 15 September 2009   Runtime: 1080 minutes
(7 discs)
Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
Features:Aspect ratio 1.78:1, Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Subtitles (English SDH, French, Spanish), In Stitches: Season Five Outtakes, Dissecting Grey's Anatomy: Unaired Scenes, Heaven Sent, 100th Episode: Tales from the O.R.

Not all medical dramas are created equal. They just aren't. Back in the day, there was M*A*S*H. It is still beloved by generations of television viewers. There were the breakthrough shows, like St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope and E.R. Dr. Quinn gave us a different perspective. House changed the expectations. There have been dozen of shows in between, with armies of actors in scrubs and white coats. Grey's Anatomy has been around for five years now, going on six, and it has redefined the genre. The newly released fifth season raises the bar for any medically related show that will come from here on.

Season five finds the characters in full swing of their messy, messy lives. Dr. Meredith Grey spends the first bits of the season waffling about moving in with her longtime on-and-off boyfriend, Dr. Shepard. Her best friend, Cristina Yang, enters carefully into a relationship with military vet and trauma surgeon Owen Hunt. Izzie loses her mind, and George O'Malley works to prove himself. Lexie, Callie, Dr. Sloan, Dr. Hahn, and the new peds surgeon, Arizona Robbins, all add a degree of lightness - but never mistake any of them for shallow! Through her mother's diaries and the Chief's admissions, Meredith learns more about her mother. Bailey shows a lot of depth, offering new facets of her personality and strengths.

The relationships are all as tangled and emotional as ever - as is expected - but what is really fascinating about this season is watching the growth of each of the characters who began with day one, as baby interns at Seattle Grace Hospital. Whether it's the writing, the editing, the directing or the acting - or some combination of them all - it's fascinating to see the gradual maturity of each character. Grey's has attained a rare evolution. Life doesn't just march on. Time doesn't simply keep turning. The characters grow, change, and mature as a result of their experiences in and outside of the hospital. It is more what one would expect of a great novelist, not what we've been spoon-fed on television.

Grey's Anatomy is not melodramatic, though it maintains a constant level of life-altering drama. This season covers the deaths of children and friends, finds them trying to save the lives of a serial killer, a colleague, and handfuls of teenagers, the elderly, and patients in need of organ transplants. While this show is known for being rife with steaminess, one scene stands out above the rest. The sensuality portrayed by Sandra Oh and Kevin McKidd offers a sense of true healing and intimacy through losing oneself in another - again, not something we've come to expect from TV. Morality, death, growth, love, fears... all addressed with an authentic dose of humanity, both by the regulars and by the guest stars. Jeffrey Dean Morgan offers a stirring performance, reprising his role as Dr. Stevens's fiancée. Melissa George joins the cast briefly as an old college friend of Meredith's. Tyne Daly, Kellie Martin, Eric Stoltz, Taye Diggs, Samantha Mathis and Hector Elizondo add a huge degree of credibility to season five.

Extras include bloopers, the planning and motives behind the 100th episode, and scenes that found the cutting room floor, some of which offer insights that should have been left in. The "Starter Kit" is an inspired conception but didn't translate well in the end. The idea was to offer a brief blip of backstory to introduce new viewers who might not have caught seasons one through four. The characters were introduced, as well as little tidbits of personalities. More was given away than should have been, however, from season five; it was as much preview as catch-up.

What they did not need was a rip-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it ending to the season to keep fans coming back. We're already hooked.

Although Grey's Anatomy is just as fast-paced as any other medical show, more than intelligently written, and shockingly well-acted, their claim is the intense, pull-no-punches stories. Whether it be the guest stars or the familiar faces of the doctors, they own your emotions. Because of the roller coaster, be sure to buckle up in a good blanket, have a hand to hold, and take Grey's 's in weekly nibbles rather than gorging all at once - it is draining and uplifting and wrenching and funny. Not all television dramas are the same. This one affects the way we see the world.
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reviewed by Carolynn Evans
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