Directed by Jeff Melman et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 740 minutes
Audio: PCM 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
MSRP: $ 96.99
Release Date: September 9, 2008
Review Date: September 14, 2008
The writers of Grey’s Anatomy really painted themselves into some seriously troubling corners at the end of season three. Three marriages were either on the rocks or in serious jeopardy, romantic entanglements between the staff which had fueled so many storylines during the first three seasons were left in what seemed to be hopeless messes. And two major cast members had fled the premises: one to headline her own show (Kate Walsh) and the other (Isaiah Washington) dismissed after a series of notorious statements had made him persona non gratia around the studio. On the other hand, the show’s notable blend of humor, romance, drama, and pathos still continued to work on and off, so even though the series no longer ranked as ABC’s number one show (instead falling behind both Dancing With the Stars and Desperate Housewives), it still managed to capture the fancy of the American public and maintain its position as one of the nation’s premiere watercooler shows.
Four of the five interns who began working at Seattle Grace Hospital during the first season of Grey’s Anatomy have now become first year residents: Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), Christina (Sandra Oh), Izzie (Katherine Heigl), and Alex (Justin Chambers). Having failed his interns test (we learn later in the season by a single point), George (T.R. Knight) is relegated to repeating his internship before he can become a resident. The four residents are training a new crop of interns among which is Meredith’s half-sister Lexie (Chyler Leigh), the only new cast member who has stood out from the pack of new interns. Also joining the crew this year is new cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Jessica Hahn (Brooke Smith) who begins a season-long battle with Christina who longs to be mentored by her but who Dr. Hahn takes an instant dislike to. A new love interest for Dr. McDreamy aka Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) is nurse Rose (Lauren Stamile), a character who did not seem to catch the fancy of the viewing public.
For a good portion of season four, the writers keep most of the staff perpetually unhappy, perhaps accounting for the drop off of audience support compared to previous seasons. Only later in the season do the messy tangles of relationships begin to get sorted out: the gruesome pairing of Izzie and George finally figures out that friendship is more viable than love for them, Mark Sloane (Eric Dane) begins to adjust to life without Addison and begins to rebuild his lost friendship with Derek, Alex comes to terms with his feelings for “Jane Doe” (Elizabeth Reaser), and Meredith’s therapy sessions bring her finally some clarity about what she can expect from a serious relationship. The end of season four truly finds the show back on firmer, more positive ground.
At its best, however, the series can still be fall down funny and yet emotionally devastating, the writers having an uncanny knack of melding the stories of the patients into themes that can relate to the lives of the doctors treating them. One can forgive a lot when the acting is this good, the stories this involving, and the memories so lingering. Among the most affecting of this season’s stories involved Meredith’s slow acceptance of Lexie as her sister, the collapse of Miranda (Chandra Wilson)’s personal life as her professional life reaches its zenith, and George’s growing resentment of his place on the staff at Seattle Grace. As always, patient stories like a moving two-episode drama concerning some trapped paramedics and Meredith’s efforts to save them, a white supremacist who must be operated on by Bailey, a school bus accident with several lives on the line, two soldiers spending precious moments together before a life-altering surgery, and a nineteen year old trapped in a block of concrete haunt the viewer for days after viewing the episodes on the network. They are just as memorable upon revisiting them here.
The following is the line-up of the seventeen season four episodes. Episodes 8 and 14 were expanded by several minutes for this set. The names in parentheses indicate the participants in that episode’s audio commentary.
1 - A Change Is Gonna Come (Chyler Leigh, Karin Gleason)
2 - Love/Addiction
3 - Let the Truth Sting
4 - The Heart of the Matter
5 - Haunt You Every Day
6 - Kung Fu Fighting
7 - Physical Attraction…Chemical Reaction
8 - Forever Young (Lauren Stamile, Rob Corn)
9 - Crash Into Me (Part 1)
10 - Crash Into Me (Part 2)
11 - Lay Your Hands on Me
12 - Where the Wild Things Are
13 - Piece of My Heart
14 - The Becoming (Sandra Oh, Julie Anne Robinson)
15 - Losing My Mind
16 - Freedom (Part 1)
17 - Freedom (Part 2)
The series is broadcast on ABC in 720p, and these 1080p (AVC codec) transfers maintain the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of the original telecasts. Though clear and usually sharp, these transfers do not constitute a major jump in image quality from the HD broadcast version (unlike the Blu-ray of Lost which was quite an advance in picture quality from the network broadcast). There are occasional soft moments to be seen, and even an occasional edge halo or two pop up now and then. Flesh tones, however, are exemplary. Each episode has been divided into 9 chapters.
The PCM 5.1 audio track (4.6 Mbps) is, like the network broadcast, decidedly front centric with only minimal use of the surrounds for music and the occasional but mostly infrequent ambient operating room noise or other sound effects. Dialog is always placed in the center channel and is solidly recorded and delivered in the mix.
None of the three audio commentaries offer much in the way of insider information though the chat between Chyler Leigh and Karin Gleason is the most involving as they do find things to talk about during the entire episode.
All of the bonus featurettes are delivered on the Blu-ray in 1080p.
“New Docs on the Block” is an 8-minute introduction to the three new female cast members on this season’s shows: Brooke Smith as Dr. Hahn, Chyler Leigh as Lexie Grey, and Lauren Stamile as Nurse Rose. Other cast members and producers sing the praises of each of these cast members in a very fluffy featurette.
“On Set with Patrick & Eric” spends 5 ½ minutes with good friends Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane, two of the charismatic surgeons on the show goofing around on the set and generally being worshipped by other members of the cast.
“Good Medicine: Favorite Scenes” is a 13 ¾-minute montage where several cast members pick the storyline that meant the most to him or her during the season. Producer Betsy Beers functions as commentator on this feature.
There are 16 deleted/extended scenes which can be viewed individually or in one 12-minute bunch.
There are 4 ½ minutes of bloopers, mainly the cast making funny faces into the camera or flubbing lines.
“One Quick Cut” summarizes the first four seasons of Grey’s Anatomy in a quick succession of clips that runs 4 ¼ minutes. It’s basically a sales tool for the season sets of the show available on DVD.
The Grey's Anatomy Blu-ray set contains a feature called SeasonPlay, a navigation system which keeps track of where you stop if you conclude viewing before ending a disc. The feature worked flawlessly always returning me directly to the place where I had ended viewing. It does not work, however, in the bonus feature section.
Though Grey’s Anatomy began its fourth season in something of a turmoil, it seems to be on a solid path to resurrection for its fifth season which begins on ABC on September 25th. The Blu-ray presents the series with the best possible sound and picture and is highly recommended for fans of the show.