It turns out that more really is better when it comes to ABC Studios’ release of Grey’s Anatomy‘s sixth season on DVD. The sixth season of the aging medical drama started off its season by utterly and completely changing the playing field: they killed off one of their main characters and decided to use the economic crisis to merge the two competing hospitals of Seattle Grace and Mercy West into that of Seattle Grace Mercy West. It was a tricky move, but it absolutely paid off. However, what made the move even trickier was that at the same time as this creative rejuvenation, actress Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) went on maternity leave and Katherine Heigl (Izzie Stevens) took an entire five episodes off at the same time to go shoot a movie. Despite this, the show remained as strong as ever, and the so-called “standalone” episodes (the wonderful Derek-centric “Give Peace a Chance” and the fantastic Arizona-centric “Invest in Love”) that were used to fill the void between Pompeo’s and Heigl’s absences are among the series’ strongest ever. But it’s when Pompeo comes back full-force right around the holidays that the season’s momentum really picks up. However, unlike the first half of the fifth season which felt slow and drawn out, the first half of season six feels tight, exciting, and fresh. And the second half just makes it better. There are a series of jaw-dropping twists throughout the season, and a jolting exit by Katherine Heigl half-way through, as she was released from her contract before the season completed. We’re also introduced to a slew of new characters, most of which come from the now-defunct Mercy West. These invaders in orange are smug and seem nothing like our fabulous Seattle Gracers, so we hate them, but we’re supposed to. We’re also introduced to a colleague of Owen’s, Teddy Altman (played by the ever-fabulous Kim Raver), in one of the show’s most controversial roles to date. There’s a series of great guest stars, such as Demi Lovato in a role unlike any you’ve ever seen her in before, Jesse Williams, and the brilliant Sarah Drew (who was liked so much that they actually brought her back onto the series), and things happen that you would never, ever expect to happen. But there’s no denying that the sixth season of Grey’s Anatomy is the strongest yet, with a fresh sense of competition built into the main framework of the season, and some of the best character development on television. And it all leads to a harrowing season finale that will forever rank as one of the best season finales in the history of television.
Oddly enough, ABC Studios decided to continue packaging Grey’s Anatomy in “fancy” digipack packaging, unlike all of their other shows (like sister show Private Practice), which now come housed in cases that are normal DVD case sized. I’m not complaining – the packaging is really beautiful – but it’s just strange. And I can almost guarantee this will be the last season released this way. Simply judging by the set’s size, by season seven Grey’s Anatomy will be utilizing “cheap” packaging as well. Although the set houses six discs, it’s width is smaller than that of the show’s fourth season set, so although the set’s design matches season five perfectly, the Grey’s Anatomy logo is smaller than normal, presenting an inconsistency. There’s also an issue with the cast photo we see on the inside of the set. ABC has used the casts’ season six photo, except that they’ve photoshopped Kim Raver into it next to Kevin McKidd and it could not be more obvious. Raver’s photo is much more high quality than the rest of the cast (which is surprisingly not all too high quality) and it just feels out of place. How this passed inspection I’ll never understand. But you can basically take the inside of the fifth season set, color it dark blue, and you’ve got the inside of the sixth season set. It matches pretty perfectly, and it makes for a really great looking set. The inside cover of the set is a lot of fun as well – they picked a lot of great photos for it. The menus recycle the same design from the previous five years, though they do use new footage and pictures (though the menu’s introduction continues to get worse and worse every year, I swear). It’s a very pretty set, perhaps just as nice, if not nicer, than season five’s set.
- 1 “Good Mourning”
- 2 “Goodbye”
- 3 “(I Always Feel Like) Somebody’s Watchin’ Me”
- 4 “Tainted Obligation”
- 5 “Invasion”
- 6 “I Saw What I Saw”
- 7 “Give Peace a Chance”
- 8 “Invest in Love”
- 9 “New History”
- 10 “Holidaze”
- 11 “Blink” (crossover)
- 12 “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked”
- 13 “State of Love and Trust”
- 14 “Valentine’s Day Massacre”
- 15 “The Time Warp”
- 16 “Perfect Little Accident”
- Bonus Features
- Seattle Grace: On Call
- The Making of Seattle Grace: On Call
- 17 “Push”
- 18 “Suicide is Painless”
- 19 “Sympathy for the Parents”
- 20 “Hook, Line and Sinner”
- Bonus Features
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Scenes
- Chandra Wilson: Anatomy of a Talent
- In Stitches: Blooper Reel
- 21 “How Insensitive”
- 22 “Shiny Happy People”
- 23 “Sanctuary”
- 24 “Death and All His Friends”
- 25 “Death and All His Friends” EXTENDED EDITION
Audio and Video
As ABC decided not to cut Grey’s Anatomy down to five discs like everything else, the video is really, really good. Once upon a time, it got its own Blu-ray release, so with a show shot that high def, the DVD is going to look really good. And it sounds fantastic too – there’s no way you won’t get chills during the finale. But, for the first time in six years, ABC has done something odd by splitting up the bonus features across multiple discs. I’m not generally a fan of them doing this because I think it’s a pain, but they obviously didn’t want to create a seventh disc just for bonus features like with season five, and none of the bonus features would fit on disc six with the way they presented the finale (more on that later). As a result, all of the bonus features are spread across discs four and five, adding a bit more compression to those discs as compared to the first three. Still, it’s a fantastic sounding and looking show. There’s no doubt about it.
The one thing that sucks with ABC Studios releases is that you’re never really sure what features you are actually going to wind up with on the actual DVD. Turns out that happened this time around as well. The Seattle Grace: On Call feature is a six-part webisode series than ran on ABC.com from November 20, 2009 to January 21, 2010, with the final episode coinciding with episode 12 “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked.” It’s… alright. It starts out pretty awful but by the end it actually is decent enough to be enjoyable, and each episode is only about five minutes long so it’s not like there’s too much awfulness to endure anyways. Still, it’s not good enough to get me interested enough to watch the making of featurette, so I skipped it.
We’re presented with another collection of deleted scenes this time around, from episodes scattered all around the season. Most of the scenes are from the season opener, “Good Mourning” and “Goodbye.” I was shocked when watching all the deleted scenes to see just how much Katherine Heigl had been cut out of the episodes she was in – most of the deleted scenes from the season opener deal with her, and there were at least three scenes that took place between Izzie and Alex. There was even a deleted scene featuring Heigl from an episode she wasn’t even in. It was incredibly interesting, and even more interesting that they actually decided to include that on the DVD release. Beyond the additional Izzie, however, we get an additional Meredith/Derek scene (just a short one from the season opener), a fantastic new scene between Cristina and Owen (from “Give Peace a Chance”), an additional Callie/Arizona scene (from “Valentine’s Day Massacre”), and even a scene featuring flirtation between Season Seven Dream Pairing Lexie and Jackson (also from “Valentine’s Day Massacre”). There’s also a great moment between Meredith and Mark that was cut from “How Insensitive.” And we’re also presented with a great new scene between Owen and Derek, discussing Meredith and Cristina, from “Invasion.” The extended scenes included are both from “The Time Warp.” One is an extension of nervous Callie and is actually really painful to watch, whereas the second features Bailey and is really interesting to watch. Whereas season five’s deleted/extended scenes were awful, season six’s deleted scenes are actually really worth a look. They are pretty interesting, and I found myself enjoying them.
Then we have the feature on Chandra Wilson, who was the first Grey’s actor to take a stab at directing the show this season (a role in which she’ll be reprising in the seventh season as well). Wilson is always a pleasure to watch and the featurette offers some interesting insights, but is nothing substantial.
We once again have a new blooper reel to feast upon, which I’m sure is what most of you are looking forward to (beyond the extended finale). It’s short and sweet this time around, but a lot of fun to watch. The blooper reel starts out kind of iffy, and I actually almost shut it off, but I decided to stick it out and after the first thirty or sixty seconds, the blooper reel really picks up and gets really funny. There’s great moments featuring almost all of the actors and it is a lot of fun to watch. Watching the blooper reel kind of makes you wonder how these horrible rumors about the goings-on behind the scenes get started, because it seems like they are having so much fun on the set.
And then we come to the extended finale…
The Extended Finale
Don’t be fooled when it comes to this extended finale. While one might think, such as I did, that both episode 23 “Sanctuary” and episode 24 “Death and All His Friends” are extended (simply because I couldn’t fathom how they cut a whole twenty minutes out of just one episode), that simply is not true. In fact, there’s only one extended episode on this entire set (despite me seeing reports of there being two around the web), and it is only episode 24 “Death and All His Friends,” which I suppose is fair, seeing as that is the “true” finale for the season.
The packaging lies, however. The televised version of “Death and All His Friends” ran for 43 minutes and 30 seconds, and although the DVD promises you “over twenty additional minutes” in the finale, the reality is that only about 17 minutes have been added back, with the extended finale clocking in at almost exactly one hour in length. And, oh yeah, it’s as fantastic as you think, as you want, it to be.
The thing that’s been buzzed about the most in regards to the extended finale is the scene in which Callie (Sara Ramirez) sings to a patient in order to calm her down. OK, I’m going to tell you right now that you all will be severely disappointed if you go into this thinking that you’re going to get a Broadway-style performance here. No, what actually happens is something quite different, and it’s utterly adorable and it’s quite hilarious. Callie sings a song no one would expect her to, and the scene last for about thirty seconds – maybe a minute. So whatever you’re expecting? Stop expecting that, because you’ll be disappointed, and that would be a shame because the scene is actually a really great moment for the characters involved.
It would appear that most of what was kept in in the televised finale involved Meredith, Derek, and Cristina, so all of the added material deals with the other characters – most notably Mark, Lexie, and Alex. There are scenes added back in dealing with Arizona and Callie that I really enjoyed, but they are nowhere near as substantial as the scenes involving Mark, Lexie, and Alex. But first we’ve got to talk about Bailey and Mandy Moore.
Miranda Bailey actually gets a lot more screentime in this version of the finale as well, and it’s true, she has a fantastic Bailey-esque monologue that she gives to Mandy Moore’s character. There’s a lot more blood in this version of the finale, and I actually found myself wincing at one point. The added material brings a whole new perspective to Mandy Moore’s Mary character, and it just shows you why Bailey is the show’s strongest character – a character that you need to love.
But the majority of the added material goes to Mark, Lexie, and Alex. And it brings a whole new spin to everything we thought about that triangle when the season ended. The footage added back in is powerful and unexpected and I was utterly flabbergasted that it had all been cut. It changes everything you thought you knew, and makes series creator Shonda Rhimes’s stance on those relationships make a lot more sense.
I feel like there were some other tidbits added back in here and there, specifically some lines between Teddy and Owen, but I can’t be totally sure. It’s interesting because after watching this extended version of the finale, I find myself thinking that, in retrospect, the scene between Gary Clark and Richard should have indeed been cut down. At the time, it was one of my favorite moments of the finale, but now having seen the whole picture, I’m shocked the entire scene remained intact. It’s a great character moment and shows Richard’s growth, but there was just so much more that could’ve been in the episode.
I got the feeling that there was something added involving each of the character and each storyline, but for those hoping to see amazing new scenes involving Meredith and Derek or Owen and Cristina, prepare to be disappointed, because that’s what was kept in the televised finale, presumably because that’s what most people cared about (and, judging from the questions I’ve been receiving via Twitter, they were correct in that assumption). The added material deals with everybody else, and it’s freaking fantastic.
More really is better. This version of the finale is just utterly magical, and I don’t know how else to put it. I found my heart racing all over again, and I even started crying once again. Unfortunately, no, we STILL don’t get an answer as to how Gary Clark got into the OR, but there are some added moments with him as well, and we even see some more interaction between Richard and the police chief. It’s a powerful, powerful episode, and as satisfying as the televised version was, this version is one hundred percent more satisfying.
One odd note about the finale, however. Whereas in the past, only the extended version of episodes have been able to view on the DVDs, that is not the case on this set. Apparently ABC must have thought that the changes made to the finale were so drastic fans might want the original version as well, and so they’ve added the extended finale as a “bonus twenty-fifth” episode, so when you go to watch the finale, you have to select episode 25 or you’ll be seeing the original, televised finale.
There’s no doubt about it. This is my absolute favorite season of Grey’s Anatomy yet, and it’s worth the purchase just for the extra 17 minutes you get in the finale. It’s just that good. This set honestly doesn’t have much else to offer beyond that, though I suppose there will be some who will be glad to own Seattle Grace: On Call for the rest of eternity. It’s really the episodes themselves that have a lot to offer this time around, as Grey’s Anatomy presents some of its best storylines to date, with fantastic twists and great drama. But, really, it doesn’t get any better than that extended finale. Without a hint of hesitation, this set comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. You do not want to miss this.
If you have any additional questions or inquiries, feel free to leave a comment and ask!