Amateur Programmer: Grey’s Anatomy Season Premiere

ABC re-ran the 2 hour season finale of GREYS ANATOMY last night. GREYS has been absent all Summer long on ABC as the show, like many serialized soaps, just doesn’t rerun well. Their finale was a very well constructed, somewhat over the top, but effective display of the genius of Shonda Rhimes. A disgruntled spouse of a former patient entered the hospital and intent on killing Derek,  ended up doing far worse damage. On paper it sounds ridiculous, but it was tense, scary, heart-breaking and ellicted some amazing performances from everyone in the cast. (Chandra Wilson stole the ep for me).

The result: Even critics that loathe the show, praised it. Former fans returned. When it aired in May it reversed a recent ratings slide by the show and was their highest rated episode since the previous Fall.

ABC was smart to rerun it last night. The events of the episode play directly into the new season and audiences would need a refresher. I admit, I got sucked into it again. The ratings were much higher than a normal rerun. It got a 1.7 with the final half hour reaching a 2.0 (rerun numbers GREYS never sees) even beating the season premiere of THE APPRENTICE.

While watching, I was reminded of a thought I had last May when it first aired:  ABC should have held the second hour to run as the season premiere. The first half ends with a conflict with the gunman and Derek. Patrick Dempsey gives I think what is one of his best performances on the show to date, as he tries to reason with the gunmen and after an emotional speech that includes Derek saying “I am a human being… look into my eyes” , it looks like he has disarmed him. Just as the gunman is putting the gun down, young intern April rushes in, interrupts the moment and the gunman shoots Derek, with Meredith being held back by Christina. It’s all played out in slow motion and is quite effective.

Now imagine if that was the last image of the season. I’d venture to say there’d be even more tune in next week for the return. Tons of cast members fate’s would be unknown and viewers would be craving for the resolution. Knowing how terrific the second hour is, I’d venture people would be coming back for episode 2, and the show probably wouldn’t drop as much in the second week as most shows do after a season premiere. (Plus the big wedding in next week’s premiere would be an additional hook for episode 2). I remember mentioning this in May to some people and they all seemed glad that the show didn’t end with a cliffhanger and that they’d still be tuning in, in the Fall. I understand their thinking but the amateur programmer in me thinks otherwise. Knowing how strong the competition is at this hour now, I wonder if ABC ever considered it.

 Here’s the final scene of part 1:

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