Most spin-off shows have a hard time finding their own identity. In rare circumstances, though, some spin-off shows actually become just as popular as the the programs they are spun from, to the point that the label “spin-off” is no longer necessary. Last season, Private Practice looked to be on the road to becoming as popular as Grey’s Anatomy. But since both shows were written by the same people, you couldn’t help but compare the two with each other in the first couple of seasons. Now with season three on DVD, could Private Practice find the right mix to separate itself from Grey’s Anatomy?
Private Practice follows the life of Dr. Addison Montgomery-Shepherd (Kate Walsh). After Addison was turned down for the Chief of Surgery position at Seattle Grace and her ex-husband, Dr. Derek Shepherd, continued to chase after fellow doctor, Meredith Grey, Addison decided to make a change in her life. This change involved giving up her high-pressure surgical position and moving to sunny Los Angeles, California to work at a “hippie”, communal medical clinic where she would be lucky to see one patient a day. When she initially arrives at her new job she finds that her recently divorced friend Naomi Bennett (Audra McDonald) has not told any of her colleagues that she has hired a new doctor to work at the practice. Thrown by this, they blame it on the tumultuous relationship between Naomi and her husband Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs), who also works at the practice. Other wacky characters that work at or around this clinic include Addison’s old boyfriend, Pete Wilder (Tim Daly), the alternative medicine doctor; Violet Turner (Amy Brenneman) is an entirely neurotic and sensitive psychiatrist, who not only catches the eye of Pete but also is dealing with personal baggage herself; Cooper Freedman (Paul Adelstein) is the hunky pediatrician/internet dating pervert who may or may not have romantic feelings for Violet; then there’s control freak Charlotte King (KaDee Strickland), the Chief of Staff at a nearby hospital, St. Ambrose, and who Cooper meets on the internet for discreet sexual encounters; and it wouldn’t be a real hippie office if Chris Lowell wasn’t there in a part-time surfer, part-time receptionist capacity for the clinic.
Season three picks up from the great season two season finale cliffhanger, where Violet was left bleeding to death on the floor of her house after a crazy patient cut her baby out of her stomach. Violet does survive the attack, but the aftermath is severe. Violet soon suffers anxiety attacks, and once she gets her baby back, she doesn’t feel comfortable with her baby. As a result, Pete has to play single dad for most of the season. Meanwhile, Charlotte and Cooper are still struggling to maintain a happy relationship. Sam begins to shows an interest towards Addison. The problem with that is Addison is still loyal to best friend Naomi, and doesn’t want to start something with her ex-husband right away. This leads her back to Pete, where Addison plays the “mom” role for Pete and his baby with Violet. Obviously, Violet won’t be happy about this when she does find out, and you know she will. Finally, Del has even more family issues involving the mother his child, including the fact that the mother of his child accidentally blows up her house cooking meth. The central storylines throughout the season revolves around motherhood and the bonds that families have between each other no matter what.
Last season, the series was really all about the medical cases on the show and all of the moral issues that come from those cases. There was not much focus on the personal lives of the characters. That was definitely a good thing, since season one was pretty much all about the personal lives of the doctors. Season three is a good mix of both elements. Every main character gets his or her time to shine this season, and there is more character development than ever. This definitely makes this season better, since the main cast of characters are still likable and interesting. The acting is also great as well. It doesn’t hurt that Eric Dane and Chandra Wilson from Grey’s Anatomy showed up for a couple of crossover episodes.
The third season of Private Practice mixes the best of season one and season two into a complete package. It still tackles a few moral issues this year, but there is as much focus on the personal lives of the doctors. The third season also had another great Grey’s Anatomy-style cliffhanger. Some storylines still feel like ones from Grey’s Anatomy with just new characters put into place, but overall Private Practice is turning into a complete show of its own. It does take a slight back towards the direction of Grey’s Anatomy, but it is for the betterment of the series.
Episode 1 – A Death in the Family
Violet is rushed to the hospital unconscious and severely injured, after the violent attack from her patient Katie. Addison and Naomi fight to save her life. Meanwhile, the whereabouts and condition of Violet’s stolen baby are unknown.
Episode 2 – The Way We Were
Violet is physically recovering from her violent attack at home, but the emotional trauma she suffers from isn’t going away, despite her friends best efforts. Meanwhile, Addison and Naomi try to mend their tension-filled relationship, as Sam and Cooper treat a man who was stabbed by his wife.
Episode 3 – Right Here, Right Now
Miranda Bailey brings a kidney transplant patient to Los Angeles, and Addison and especially Sam is pleased to see her. Addison’s consequences of her emotional affair with Noah catch up with her. Sheldon and Pete finally discover who the father of Violet’s baby.
Episode 4 – Pushing the Limits
Addison, Sam and Cooper treat the sick child of a homeless teen mother they met while volunteering. Violet has trouble relating to her baby when her feelings of her attack resurface during a counseling session of a rape victim who is now pregnant. Cooper’s financial woes catch up with him when he’s asked to help buy out Naomi’s share of the practice.
Episode 5 – Strange Bedfellows
Addison deals Naomi’s former patients, Zoe and Amelia, whose embryos were accidentally switched, a complication that may end up jeopardizing both fetuses. Violet struggles with whether or not she can face Katie in court and testify against her. Charlotte is determined to convince Addison, Sam and Cooper to let her join Oceanside Wellness Group.
Episode 6 – Slip Slidin’ Away
The doctors at Pacific Wellcare venture with an unexpected new hire causing Naomi to struggle with the idea of genetically designing babies. Violet makes a sudden decision to try electric shock therapy on a patient. Addison somehow finds herself alone and with a cat.
Episode 7 – The Hard Part
Addison and Sam go for a hike in Malibu, they come across an expecting couple trapped in their car after an accident, they then perform urgent field care. Charlotte, Cooper and Violet treat a newlywed who, on his wedding night has taken too much Viagra. Pete and Sheldon go out to a bar together and end up falling for the same girl.
Episode 8 – Sins of the Father
Addison is thrown by the arrival of her father to Los Angeles. Cooper is arrested when he refuses to cooperate in a case involving a patient. Dell shocks his co-workers when he announces that he married Heather over the weekend. Pete fights to keep a terminally ill patient alive long enough for him to meet his daughter
Episode 9 – The Parent Trap
Addison performs a complex utero surgery, proving not only her talents to her father but giving them some common ground. Sam and Naomi deal with have a family crisis when they discover Maya is growing up way too fast. Violet does the unthinkable.
Episode 10 – Blowups
An explosion at Dell’s house lands Betsey and Heather in the hospital. everyone is pushed to the limit in trying to save their lives. The tensions between Addison and The Captain rise even more when her mother, Bizzy, shows up and a shocking family secret is revealed.
Episode 11 – Another Second Chance
Addison and Mark head back to Ocean Wellness to help his pregnant daughter. Naomi and Dell can’t agree how to raise their children together and Violet and Cooper can’t agree on patient care.
Episode 12 – Best Laid Plans
Maya shocks Sam and Naomi, while Pete and Fife disagree on patient care.
Episode 13 – Shotgun
Addison and Cooper are counseling a couple who must pick a child to save with their newborn’s cord blood. Meanwhile Dink wants to marry Maya.
Episode 14 – Love Bites
When Naomi refuses to help plan Maya’s wedding, Sam convinces Violet to help her. Meanwhile the tension between Addison and Sam deepens when they treat a suicidal patient and Cooper and Pete treat a girl with a questionable bite mark.
Episode 15 – ‘Til Death Do Us Part
It’s Maya’s wedding day and while Violet helps Sam prepare, a furious Naomi still refuses to take part as she works with Addison and Pete to save a premature baby. Meanwhile, Cooper becomes suspicious of Charlotte’s new boyfriend and thinks that he may be abusing drugs.
Episode 16 – Fear of Flying
Addison, Pete and Sam must come together on a complicated case involving a dad-to-be with tuberculosis which threatens the future of his new family. Violet still gone on her Costa Rican escape, Sheldon takes over helping a patient named Natasha, to get over her fear of flying. Naomi finds herself in a bit of a love triangle of her own
Episode 17 – Triangles
Addison clashes with Sam’s new girlfriend, Vanessa, over treatment for a patient whose life – and those of her unborn triplets – hangs in the balance. Meanwhile, Naomi’s love triangle intensifies as she finds herself torn between William and Dr Fife, and Cooper and Sheldon argue over Charlotte while working together on a case.
Episode 18 – Pulling the Plug
A husband’s decision to pull the plug on his pregnant wife is overruled by a judge, forcing the hospital to keep her on life support until the baby is born and can survive. Naomi feels betrayed after learning of Sam and Addison’s feelings for each other who turns to Dr. Fife for comfort.
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Episode 19 – Eyes Wide Open
A team of neurosurgeons trying to save Addison’s comatose patient, Kayla, includes Derek Shepherd’s younger sister, Amelia, whose take on the case sparks friction. Meanwhile, Cooper and Charlotte continue to be unable to work together.
Episode 20 – Second Choices
Violet returns home and to the practice. Pete and Addison have mixed feelings about Violet’s desire to reconnect with Lucas. Amelia butts into Sam’s personal life by pointing out that he can mend hearts in the operating room but can’t seem to do that for himself. Sheldon encourages Charlotte to reconcile with Cooper, while he tries to deal with a young patient who eats everything in sight.
Episode 21 – War
Violet files for joint custody of Lucas but Pete hires an attorney and fights back, dragging everyone at the practice into the trial.
Episode 22 – In the Name of Love
Naomi begs Fife to use his still experimental treatment to help William’s advanced ALS. Violet and Amelia treat a woman with a brain tumor, while Sheldon decides to vie for Charlotte’s affections.
Episode 23 – The End of a Beautiful Friendship
Maya and her unborn baby fight for their lives after a serious car crash. Addison, Amelia and Fife try everything humanly possible to save them. Sam operates on the other crash victim and makes a grim discovery; Cooper makes an ill-timed but valiant effort with Charlotte. The staff’s world gets rocked by an unexpected death.
The video is given in anamorphic widescreen color with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The transfer is great with colors generally looking bright and vivid details everywhere. No major or minor problems at all here, and on par with previous seasons.
The audio included is in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear. No major problems here either, and the same good quality as previous seasons.
“Kate’s Top 8” Featurette – This runs 12 minutes and Kate discusses her 8 favorite things from this season. Kate Walsh, of course, is interviewed, but there are interviews with various other cast and crew members too about her favorite things.
Deleted Scenes – There are 13 episodes that didn’t make the final cut of the season and they total 14 minutes. Nothing much to see here.
Bloopers – This is 4 1/2 minutes worth of the usual mistakes and gags from filming this season.
ABC Starter Kit – This runs 5 minutes and it’s a quick recap of the series’ first two seasons to get you ready for season three.
If you haven’t watched this show yet and like Grey’s Anatomy, you should give this season of Private Practice a chance. It’s a good mix of the first two seasons. Not many extras, though, so hardcore fans may be disappointed in the overall quality of this set.
ABC Studios Home Entertainment presents Private Practice: The Complete Third Season. Created by Shonda Rhimes. Starring Kate Walsh, Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, KaDee Strickland, Paul Adelstein, Amy Brennerman, Audra McDonald, Chris Lowell, David Sutcliffe, Brian Benben, and Grant Show. Running time: 989 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: September 14, 2010.
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