Buena Vista // 2007 // 740 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // September 29th, 2008
Medicine nor relationships can be defined in black and white. Real life only comes in shades of grey.
Meredith Grey: Intimacy is a four syllable word for, "Here's my heart and soul, please grind them into hamburger, and enjoy." It's both desired, and feared. Difficult to live with, and impossible to live without. Intimacy also comes attached to the three Rs...relatives, romance, and roommates. There are some things you can't escape. And other things you just don't want to know.
Despite the trials and tribulations of the 2007/2008 Writer's Guild of America strike, Grey's Anatomy managed to continue to ride the wave of critical acclaim and fan support through an abbreviated 17 episode fourth season.
The doctors of Seattle Grace are on call again playing doctor, and not just in the operating room. Joined by some new faces, Grey's Anatomy: Season Four delivers some of the best moments of the series to date. Counting the season finale as two individual episodes, all 17 episodes of the short but sweet Season Four are included here, spread over four discs as follows:
* "A Change Is Gonna Come"
* "Let the Truth Sting"
* "The Heart of the Matter"
* "Haunt You Every Day"
* "Kung Fu Fighting"
* "Physical Attraction...Chemical Reaction"
* "Extended Episode: Forever Young"
* "Crash Into Me" (Part 1)
* "Crash Into Me" (Part 2)
* "Lay Your Hands On Me"
* "Where the Wild Things Are"
* "Piece of My Heart"
* Extended Episode: "The Becoming"
* "Losing My Mind"
* "Freedom" (Part 1)
* "Freedom" (Part 2)
Grey's Anatomy really does provide the complete package...conflicted and flawed characters, romance, medical drama, and some of the best writing on TV today. And had the show's creative team a crystal ball to see the writer's strike coming, they really couldn't have delivered a tighter 17-episode run than Season Four. Familiar characters break some new ground, other faces have moved on, and new characters hold their own.
Behind the camera, there's been no small amount of controversy around Grey's Anatomy. The highly public and uncomfortable issues surrounding comments made by Isaiah Washington that ultimately resulted in his reluctant departure from the show. Rumors of Katherine Heigl's rather vocal frustration that her character wasn't getting the screen time or quality scripts she deserved, given her budding feature film career (which has since wilted somewhat). But despite these bumps along the way, fans continue to be treated to a show that consistently delivers from week to week.
To get a sense of the broader story arcs throughout Season Four, it's best to view the season's events on a character-by-character basis:
Beware of possible spoilers below.
Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo)
Conflicted, thy name is Meredith! Often denying that she is "dark and twisty," Meredith continues to resist giving in to her feelings for Derek Shepherd.
Derek Shepherd a.k.a "McDreamy" (Patrick Dempsey)
Understandably tired of Meredith's on-again, off-again approach to their relationship, Derek finds himself romantically involved with Nurse Rose (Lauren Stamile). I'm sure many fans were actually relieved to see him move on for a while, even though we all knew it likely wouldn't last.
Cristina Yang (Michelle Yeo)
With Burke's sudden departure as their wedding loomed, Cristina finds her life somewhat on the rocks. Vying for the attention and acknowledgement of Erica Hahn, the new Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cristina quickly realizes that the harder she tries to impress, the further she gets from the limelight.
Isobel "Izzie" Stevens (Katherine Heigl)
Her fiancé died, or she killed him, depending on who you ask. Izzie's compassion and kind heart keep her crossing the doctor/patient line and clinging on to a happy ending with George.
Alex Karev (Justin Chambers)
Love him, hate him, or both, Karev speaks his mind, rough edges and all. But ultimately his cold heart seems to be softened by his blossoming relationship with Jane Doe/Ava/Rebecca.
George O'Malley (T.R. Knight)
George, George, George! First he married Callie even though he loves Izzie. Then he cheated on Callie with Izzie and felt like a schmuck...rightfully so! And if that wasn't bad enough, he failed his intern exam, landing him right back in an all-new class of interns while his friends and colleagues left him behind. But by the end of the season, the old George is back, being the good doctor he always was.
Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson)
Tough as nails, Miranda's true test and resulting shining moment comes when she must face her worst fears and treat a neo-Nazi patient. Her relationship with her husband remains rocky, but her dedication for her former interns and colleagues never falters. Oh, and did I mention she was passed up for Chief Intern? She was not happy about that!
Addison Montgomery-Shepherd (Kate Walsh)
Spin-off show anyone? With hints of a possible spin-off series in the air for some time, Addison officially leaves Seattle for L.A. and Private Practice.
Callie Torrez (Sara Ramirez)
Callie and George, Callie and Sloan, Callie and Erica Hahn. And all while delivering some of the cruelest shots across the bow that Cristina Yang has ever received. 'Nuff said.
Mark Sloan a.k.a. "McSteamy" (Eric Dane)
After being essentially billed as a man whore, Sloan finds himself ostracized by the nursing staff and female colleagues, and struggles to build a friendship with Webber and Shepherd.
Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.)
Webber finally gets some really solid material to chew on as his marriage remains on the rocks, he considers retirement, and ponders selecting an appropriate successor.
Grey's Anatomy: Season Four featured some exciting new additions to the core cast in Meredith's younger half-sister Dr. Lexie Gray (Chyler Leigh), and Derek's love interest Nurse Rose (Lauren Stamile). And with Isaiah Washington's departure from the show, Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) returned, taking Burke's place as Head of Cardiothoracic Surgery. For loyal viewers of the show, it wasn't long before these new additions became a welcome part of the Grey's family.
The season was also sweetened by some solid guest appearances that included Diahann Caroll as Preston Burke's mother, Edward Hermann as an older intern who teaches Dr. Karev some valuable life lessons, and Seth Green as a young patient who forms a bond with Lexie Grey. Jane Doe/Ava/Rebecca (Elizabeth Reaser) and Adele Webber (Loretta Devine) also returned this season, bringing drama of their own.
Spoiler free from here on.
It's not The Dark Knight, Speed Racer, or Iron Man, so you may be asking yourself, "is it really worth opting for the blu-ray version of this release, versus the standard definition one?" If you're someone who's just dipping their foot into the Grey's Anatomy pool for the first time, I'd either rent this set or borrow it from a friend first, especially since at most retailers, the difference between the SD release and the BD version amounts to around $30.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, if you consider yourself any kind of moderate to serious Grey's Anatomy fan, you will likely love Season Four in hi-def. I was a tad nervous when I popped the first disc into my PS3 and was greeting by a "depending on your player, you may experience long load times" warning screen. Fortunately, I didn't notice any significant delays as I navigated through the set, and even when I did see a short lag, a cool animated EKG graphic appeared on the screen to let me know the whole thing hadn't just had a cardiac arrest.
Not having the SD version of this set for comparison, I did my duty by giving the highly rated Grey's Anatomy: Season Three set a spin for comparison. Comparing the two versions is like, well, comparing apples to sirloin steak. The BD image is simply stunning with true-to-life colors and contrast, deep blacks and clarity that will likely elicit the odd "wow" as you sit back and enjoy. This is where you see that extra BD investment at work. While it's not quite as visually impressive as some theatrical BD releases, the 1080p hi-def picture is a worthy candidate to show your non-believer friends just how good TV can look. And not missing a beat on this release, the bonus features are all delivered in 1080p as well.
There are two audio options to choose from here, a 5.1 uncompressed (48 khz/16 bit) track and a more mainstream 5.1 Dolby Digital track. I found the more standard track delivered a broader sound, filling the front channels with music while dialogue came across clearly in the center. As a dramatic show, Grey's Anatomy won't wow you with thunderous bass or startle you with immersive use of the rear channels, but the audio presentation here is essentially flawless.
Each disc's menu features an inset, full motion video clip, while the show's theme plays in the background. Possibly the coolest feature of this set is something called "SeasonPlay," a feature that when activated, tracks and recalls exactly what episode you are watching, what point you are at within the episode and which episode you watched last. It seemed to work like a charm, so if you're like me, prefer your TV boxed sets in proper order, and have trouble remembering where you last stopped watching, your dream has come true.
The episodes "Forever Young" and "The Becoming" have been extended for the purposes of this release, restoring small additional moments to existing scenes that had been trimmed when they originally aired. Episode commentaries with cast members and creative staff are included on both of these episodes, providing insight into the show, character development, and behind-the-scenes tidbits.
You'll also find the short features "New Docs on the Block," "On Set With Patrick And Eric," "Good Medicine: Favorite Scenes," "Dissecting Grey's Anatomy: Unaired Scenes," and "In Stitches: Season Four Outtakes" included here and while none of these are particularly notable, when taken together, they make a nice addition to the episodes themselves.
If you're like me, you got really tired of Ross and Rachel, and you've become equally tired of poor, conflicted Meredith Grey. It's a credit to Ellen Pompeo's skill as an actor that she can keep fans from just switching her off, when it seems like the material that's written for her keeps going down the same old path. Is it a good thing that we're getting more than a little tired of the title character's angst-ridden ramblings? I'm going to go with no.
With 78 regular season episodes and four recap specials to date, Grey's Anatomy plows into its fifth season this month with no signs of slowing down. And if the acting, production and writing quality continue to hit the mark like they did during Season Four, who's to say we won't one day look back at this season as part of the historic early run of a show that lasted well into the future.
Fans of Grey's Anatomy...add this set to your library. Stat!
Review content copyright © 2008 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Buena Vista
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* PCM 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 740 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Extended episodes
* Audio commentaries
* "New Docs On The Block"
* "On Set With Patrick And Eric"
* "Good Medicine: Favorite Scenes"
* "Dissecting Grey's Anatomy: Unaired Scenes"
* "In Stitches: Season Four Outtakes"
* Wikipedia: Grey's Anatomy