Friday, June 08, 2007

Grey's Anatomy McFiring


"I am not optimistic, I am not full of hope. I am sure. I am steady. And I know that I'm a heart man. I take them apart, I put them back together, I hold them in my hands. I am a heart man. So of this, I am sure. You are my partner, my lover, my very best friend. My heart beats for you. And on this day, the day of our wedding, I promise you this: I promise you to lay my heart in the palm of your hands. I promise you me." Dr. Preston Burke

So, about Grey's Anatomy ... I admit I'm a huge McFan. And I'm not happy with the decision to jettison actor Isaiah Washington and thus his fascinating character, Dr. Preston Burke.

Yes, Washington made some ugly, anti-gay remarks and sparked disagreements with other cast members. Then he apologized to all the right people, did the obligatory atonement dance--including counseling and a GLAAD Public Service Announcement--and was granted forgiveness. All months ago.

So NOW they fire him? What hypocrites. If Washington so egregiously offended their PC sensibilities, why didn't they cut him loose immediately?

Well, hey, they had episodes already in the can, a dramatic season finale already planned. His character was needed for several plot lines. Oh, puh-lease. Either they have convictions or not. Nobody's irreplaceable.

Actors have been known to die while a show's in production (Nancy Marchand on The Sopranos, Richard Crenna on Judging Amy, to name two greats). Producers and writers deal with such unfortunate timing and adjust their storylines on the fly. That's entertainment, baby. The show must go on.

Now Grey's Anatomy will go on without Preston Burke. That's a big Mcstake.

Isaiah Washington's known as a temperamental loose cannon. His Dr. Burke has been framed as a controversial figure too, with his confrontational, in-your-face style. His loving, nurturing inner self. His ambitious, obsessive, controlling personality. And his strong friendship ethic -- as long as it doesn't intrude on him or his ruthless career path.

Burke represents the ultimate soap opera persona in all its squirmy duality--heroic villain or villainous hero--portrayed with pitch perfect intensity by Washington. A character you love to hate ... and hate to love. Which bleeds nicely into the way many viewers feel about the actor himself.

So why not grab that tension and use it to re energize the show, recreate some more lightening in a bottle. Frankly, the show has lost its once snappy sizzle.

Shonda Rhimes et al should keep Washington and capitalize on the notoriety and controversy. In fact, they've been handed a golden opportunity to retool a big chunk of the show's dynamic.

If they were smart, they'd get rid of the annoying, unrealistic George&Izzie love story line, and have George come out of the McCloset.

Think how many real points they'd make with the Gay and Lesbian community (not to mention the rest of us). T.R. Knight, the actor who plays George is in fact gay. He was the focus of the Washington controversy. Which is when--and some say why--he came out during that time.

All its devoted fans agree Grey's Anatomy needs some shaking up. Almost all of us think the George and Izzie affair is not only unbelievable, but well, boring. Not because Knight is gay. Because the two actors have no chemistry together. (Actually, the only real chemistry--or genuine emotion--we've ever seen from George came during his interactions with his family.)

If there's one thing Isaiah Washington's Dr. Preston Burke has in abundant supply, it's chemistry. With anybody. Too bad the show caved to ABC/Disney Right Wingnut pressure instead of cooking up some more volcanic Burke storylines.

Oh by the way, can somebody tell me why Mare Whittingham's character was so abruptly killed off? All the G'sA kids could learn a thing or two backstage from such an experienced, polished actress. Not to mention the potential for the show to give us so many more juicy Meredith-Stepmom-Dad moments.

And I have one last suggestion: roll the storyline back just far enough to make Dr. Baily Chief Resident -- most of us thought that was her job already.


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