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TCA: ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ starts fresh

POSTED BY STUART LEVINE

ShondaThe dark gloom of Seattle skies turn bright this season for Shonda Rhimes (pictured left), as she brings her “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff to Los Angeles in the form of “Private Practice.”

The overcast weather analogy seems appropriate for the past season of “Grey’s” in many ways. The tone of the series was ominous in a bunch of episodes, including arcs on the tenuous relationship between Meredith and McDreamy, George’s by-the-threads marriage to Callie, Richard’s divorce and Burke’s ultimate dismissal of Dr. Yang as a life partner.

And that’s just the on-screen tumult.

Of course, nothing got bigger headlines than Isaiah Washington’s meltdown and anti-gay remarks, which ultimately led to his dismissal off the show.

(When asked about Ben Silverman’s comments, that NBC had talked to Washington about a possible role on “Bionic Woman” while he was still under contract to ABC Studios, Rhimes answered, “I wasn’t aware of any conversations.” And when prodded for a response on his arrival at the Peacock primetime lineup, she rose above the fray, answering, “He’s very talented and I hope he and the show do well, but not as well as ‘Private Practice.'”)

“It was a dark journey,” said Rhimes of the past year, who added later on that it was a “dark season, but I want to get back to having fun.”

On Wednesday, ABC topper Steve McPherson agreed, having said “Grey’s” would arrive this fall with a slightly lighter tone.

“There was a lot of difficult stuff and emotional stuff going on for a multitude of characters. And I think we’re going to get away from some of that  just because of the nature of the storytelling that she (Rhimes) is going to do,” he said.

That’s not to say Rhimes wasn’t happy with the how the stories turned out. She remained on the creative course she set out from Day 1.

“We started with Meredith helping Izzy out of her wedding dress and ended with Meredith helping Christine out of her wedding dress,” Rhimes said in bookending the season.

And, yes, she was aware of the unhappiness of some of the hard-core fans — though she didn’t necessarily agree with them — those who followed the show to Thursdays from Sundays in a risky programming move by ABC that paid huge dividends.

“I read the blogs,” she explained. “I take very seriously what the fans say. They care about the show.”

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