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Grey's Anatomy - The Complete Fourth Season (Expanded) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
ImageI know what you are thinking, "not another medical drama."  But before you groan, "Grey's Anatomy" is a medical drama that combines the best of every medical show ever made.  Take the early years of "E.R" and the comedy of "Scrubs," mixed them together and you get "Grey's Anatomy."

The show has received a lot of attention due to the Isaiah Washington remarks and subsequent departure from the show, and due to Katherine Heigl's rise to super-stardom.  All that may overshadow the actual show, but "Grey's" is truly an amazing show.

The entire cast delivers outstanding performances.  Never has there been such a shining cast.  Ellen Pompeo plays Dr. Meredith Grey.  She comes into season four struggling with balancing her life.  Although it appears that she has everything going for her, she is emotionally unstable.  She manages to push Dr. Derek Shepherd away, as she cannot commit to the relationship.  As Derek (Patrick Dempsey) moves on to date a nurse, Rose (Lauren Stamile), Grey becomes insanely jealous.

Drama swirls around doctors George O'Malley, Izzie Stevens and Callie Torres (T.R. Knight, Katherine Heigl, Sara Ramirez).  After George marries Callie, on the rebound from his father's passing, he has a one-night affair with longtime friend, Izzie.  Season four deals with the romance of the triangle, as well as George's intern repeater-ship.

Callie, newly appointed Chief Resident, struggles with her job and her personal life.  Doctor Miranda Bailey steps in to help out.  Meanwhile, Dr. Cristina Yang, after being left at the altar by Dr. Preston Burke at the end of season three, struggles to move on in the field of cardio-thoracic surgery.  The new head of the department, Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) makes life even more difficult for Yang, as Hahn feels Yang only survived in the field due to her romantic relationship with Burke, the former head of the department. Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) continues his misogynistic ways around the hospital, eventually leading to a strike on his surgeries by the entire female nursing staff.

Also playing a major role in this season is Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh), Grey's estranged half-sister.  She doesn't make up for the absence of Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), who went off the show to star in the spin-off, "Private Practice."  Still, she is a warm and naïve character that has been well received by audiences and critics.

This is one of the more advanced Blu-ray season releases recently.  Disney has instituted a new feature called, "SeasonPlay."  This feature keeps track of where you are in your season timeline, regardless of whether you change discs or skip around.  It is an interesting feature, but I found little use for it as I watched the season one disc at a time.

The Blu-ray release has a true video transfer.  However, the original production quality is not superb.  The colors are lacking in vibrancy.  This may be due to a production decision on what colors should be present in a hospital.  Still, the fleshtones should contain more pep.  The image, however, is cleaning, with only minimal amounts of digital grain.  Some of this is introduced due to the slight edge enhancement present on the episodes.  The black levels are a little crushed, which usually is the case with digital television programs.  Still, the quality is far better than the original HD broadcast version.  There are no compression or motion artifacts, as should be expected on Blu-ray.

The audio is fairly standard.  While the HD broadcast contains a Dolby Digital 5.1, the Blu-ray release has been given an upgrade to Uncompressed PCM 5.1.  There is not much difference between them.  Ambiences in the surround channels are light, really only coming into play during strong music sequences or the occasional discrete sound effect.  Basically a front-heavy mix, the center channel is well balanced.  The dialogue is crisp and clearly audible.  The stereo imaging is not great, but suitable for a television program.  The LFE channel is pretty decent for a TV show as well.  It is not overpowering, but it is present enough to provide a warm bottom end to the music and ambience.

There are a number of bonus features presented on this four-disc collection.  In total there are 17 episodes, nearly a full season even with the writer's strike.  First, there are three audio commentaries.  Sadly, there is a lack of cast participation, and the information provided in the included commentaries is vaguely entertaining at best.  The first commentary is with Chyler Leigh and Associate Producer Karin Gleason on the premiere episode, "A Change is Gonna Come."  The second commentary is with Lauren Stimale and Executive Producer/Director Rob Corn on the episode "Forever Young."  The final commentary is with Sandra Oh and Director Julie Anne Robinson on the episode "The Becoming."

There are two expanded episodes, "Forever Young" and "The Becoming."  The material is not enlightening, but somewhat entertaining.  They are essentially deleted scenes, re-edited into the episodes.  The "New Docs on the Block" featurette covers the addition of Chyler Leigh, Brooke Smith and Lauren Stamile to the cast.  The featurette, "On Set with Patrick and Eric" deals with the friendship on-screen and off-screen between Doctors Derek Shepherd and Mark Sloan.  "Good Medicine: Favorite Scenes," present on past seasons of the show, allows the characters to talk about their favorite episodes.  "Dissecting 'Grey's Anatomy': Unaired Scenes" is a section filled with deleted scenes.  And lastly there is an outtake section called, "In Stitches."

"Grey's Anatomy" is a fantastic show that has a lot to offer its audience.  The new season premieres soon, and is expected to be successful.  Don't worry if you have missed the past seasons.  If you pick up season four on Blu-ray you get an insert timeline that fills you in on all the major events of the past three seasons.  This set is highly recommended for the show, but don't expect visual demo material.

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