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Private Practice - The Complete First Season - television series DVD / medical drama DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 4 stars
Actors: Kate Walsh, Tim Daly, Audra McDonald, Paul Adelstein, Taye Diggs, Amy Brenneman
Creators: Shonda Rhimes   Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
DVD release: 16 September 2008   Runtime: 394 minutes
(3 discs)
Format: Box set, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
Features: Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Subtitles (French, Spanish), Kate Walsh: Practice Makes Perfect, Alternative Ensemble: Behind the Scenes of Private Practice, Two Extended Episodes, Deleted Scenes, Bloopers, Audio Commentaries

The first season of Private Practice struggled a bit to find its place and its footing, but it eventually figured out what type of show it wanted to be. It's not easy to be a spin-off of a very successful show, and it took a while for Private Practice to establish its own identity away from Grey's Anatomy.

Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), newly divorced from Derek Shepherd (of Grey's Anatomy) headed off to sunny California to work at a touchy-feely wellness clinic. This gave viewers a bit of a pause, because Addison's job at Seattle Grace was that of a high-powered neonatal surgeon; in California, she is relegated to break-room banter and the occasional "save the day" fertility procedure or surgery. This dumbing-down of the character took a bit of getting used to, but by the end of the season she found her way back to the strong, courageous character we all knew and loved.

When Addison arrives at the wellness clinic, her friend Naomi Bennett (Audra McDonald) had hired her without telling any of the other practitioners, particularly her ex-husband and co-owner, Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs). The others: alternative medicine doctor Pete Wilder (Tim Daly), with whom Addison shared a kiss with - she doesn't know how she feels about him or his "medicine"; neurotic psychiatrist Violet Turner (Amy Brenneman), and pediatrician Cooper Freedman (Paul Adelstein). To make matters even more complicated, Charlotte King (KaDee Strickland), the chief of staff from the closest hospital, thinks the clinic staff are a bunch of weirdo quacks and fails to recognize Addison's superior medical skills, causing a few skirmishes.

The complete first season of Private Practice indeed suffered from consequences of the writer's strike - it was shortened and ended early, just as it was hitting its stride. The show's writers and creators have promised that it will return in the fall, focusing less on the interpersonal relationships within the clinic and more on interesting medical cases and how they affect each practitioner.

Two of the episodes on the first season disc collection are extended to provide a more extensive storyline, and the bonus disc has the expected behind-the-scenes footage, and some of the episodes include commentary. Even though Private Practice's first season is only nine episodes long, it packs a punch and has many enjoyable episodes, ones I had forgotten about since first watching them. The show improves by the episodes being watched back to back. I encourage viewers who enjoy character-driven, romantic medical dramas to give Private Practice a chance to discover what kind of show it can be independent of its progenitor. Who knows? Private Practice just might surpass it someday.
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reviewed by Melissa Parcel
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