Private Practice: The Complete Second Season
R1 - America - Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Ethan C. Stevenson (9th November 2009).
The Show

For the record, I absolutely loathe “Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-Present) to the very core. Having said that, I would think it’s fairly clear that I had no interest, at any point in my life, in ever sitting down to a single, solitary second of “Private Practice,” a spin-off of “Grey’s” from creator Shonda Rhimes. And yet… here I am, reviewing the second season of said series, on DVD, from ABC Studios, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company.

“Private Practice” hit airwaves to mostly poor reviews, so I don’t think my decision to skip over the show was unfounded in the least. Apparently, from what I can gather, the series, itself the tale of “Grey’s Anatomy’s” own Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) and her new career as a specialist for some new-age-y Southern California beach-front medical practice, has gotten better with time, but that does little to comfort me. In fact, it makes me cringe at the thought of what the original product looked like. If season two, which in my opinion is still garbage, is a marked improvement, I almost thank some higher power for letting me glimpse less than 5 minutes of the series prior to this review. Frankly, “Private Practice” is a mess, it’s not very creative, and it’s really poorly written.

Unfortunately, Wash and her cohorts (Taye Diggs, Amy Brenneman, Audra McDonald, Tim Daly, Paul Adelstein, KaDee Strickland and Chris Lowell) all have squat to work with. As with “Grey’s”, Rhimes seems more interested in producing stories that revolve mostly around the sexual escapades of her characters, in favor of, you know, truly advancing the narrative. The medical aspect of the show, also like “Grey’s”, is lacking, which is problematic, but not unexpected. After all, this melodrama only uses the premise of medicine to get each character into the others pants. I don’t find it hard to believe that this sexualized-yet-sanitized program is a hit, no doubt, because its repressed audience, made up of mostly middle-aged women, has found this to be an outlet of some sort.

Rhimes continues to create depressingly miserable characters. These women are angry, the men are far from likable, and the show is too dramatic for it’s own good. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I ask, when did it become okay (again) for soap operas to exist in primetime? Like “Desperate Housewives” (2004-Present) or, yes, “Grey’s Anatomy,” most of “Private Practice” seems better fit for a midday timeslot. To me, it seems wrong, but again, apparently, there are legions ready to accept, even embrace, the outlandish, overdramatic storylines and love triangles. I wasn’t. I just don’t find that kind of stuff, by itself, to be enjoyable or entertaining.

The show does have reasonably strong production values and acceptable (if limited-by-the-source) performances from most of the actors, I’ll give it that. Make no mistake; this is a sound show in more than one aspect… I just, personally, hate everything about how the characters, and the stories they exist in, are written, and that ruins the whole experience. Solidity in direction, production design and acting do little for me when the scripts aren’t up to task. I didn’t have any desire to watch “Private Practice” before I received this DVD to review, and I have even less of a desire to do so ever again after I sat through the 1000 or so minutes that comprise this second season.

All 22 episodes from the initial run, a few of which are extended from their original broadcast versions, are included here. What these extensions are, I have no idea. Having never watched the series during the ABC broadcast, I have no knowledge of what could have been added. Of note, none of the episodes run longer than 45 minutes, so whatever extensions there are, they likely don’t add up to much; each episode is about 43 minutes and change anyway, so a minute or two extra amounts to, frankly, not a whole lot.

Episodes included in this set:

- "A Family Thing"
- "Equal and Opposite"
- "Nothing to Talk About"
- "Past Tense"
- "Let It Go"
- "Serving Two Masters"
- "Tempting Faith"
- "Crime and Punishment"
- "Know When to Fold"
- "Worlds Apart"
- "Contamination"
- "Nothing to Fear"
- "Second Chances"
- "Acceptance"
- "Ex-Life"
- "Wait and See"
- "Finishing"
- "What Women Want"
- "Do the Right Thing"
- "What You Do For Love"
- "Yours, Mine and Ours"


Each episode features a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, preserving the original framing of the HDTV broadcast. Colors are rich and strong, the image is reasonably sharp for standard def DVD, and contrast is natural, leaving the picture with a solid level of depth and respectable blacks. The show is perhaps a little on the soft side due to the warm, supple lighting, but that’s to be expected, considering that the cast is comprised of “aging” actresses whose vanity require the camera crew to hide any and every wrinkle that could be visible in high-definition, during broadcast. Still, this is a perfectly fine, actually pretty good, presentation.


Encoded at 348 kbps, the English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is adequate but unimpressive. Like most dramas on television, the soundtrack is largely uninspired, staying almost entirely in the front channels. There’s little bass presence, nearly no rear surround activity and vary little variance in depth and breadth. Stereo separation is good, and dialogue comes out clearly and without problems, which is admittedly all one can ask of from a show of this nature, but otherwise, the track is a nothing to write home about.
Optional Subtitles are offered in English, French and Spanish.


This six-disc set has a minimalist supplemental package. A majority of the extras (everything non trailer related) resides on the sixth platter, detailed below. Nearly all of the video based extras are 1.78:1 16x9-enhanced widescreen, other ratios noted below. There is a season re-cap, two featurettes, deleted scenes and bonus trailers.


When you start the series on disc one, using the “Play All” option, the “ABC Starter Kit: Private Practice” season re-cap auto-plays. This nifty feature, an extended trailer of sorts, introduces the series and it’s characters and their relationships, as well as covering the important plot points in the show so far (recapping season one). I found this rather useful, having missed the debut season entirely (sans, about, a total of 3 and a half minutes that I accidentally caught because I didn’t immediately change the channel); it covers the basics and does so in a short 4 minutes and 42 seconds. Presented in pillar-boxed 4x3, within the 16x9 frame.

Pre-menu bonus trailers:

- "ABC TV on DVD and Blu-ray" runs 1 minute 35 seconds.
- “Grey’s Anatomy: Season Five” on Blu-ray and DVD. 1 minute 5 seconds.
- “Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fifth Season.” 39 seconds. Presented in 4x3 full frame.
- “The Proposal” on DVD and Blu-ray trailer. 1 minute 32 seconds. 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen.
- "Disney Blu-ray" promo. 1 minute. Various aspect ratios.


These discs contain no supplemental material.


“Patient Confidentiality: Examining Season 2,” running 12 minutes 52 seconds, is the meatiest of the featurettes in this set. Basically, this piece plays out as an overview of the season, with many of the cast and crew discussing various plot elements. It’s pretty light material, with plenty of clips from the show interspersed throughout. You know how I feel about these EPK things (in case you don’t; I general hate them), but, as the set lacks any sort of commentaries, this is about the only place to get some contextual insight and so I won’t entirely discount it.

The next featurette isn’t so much about the show, and perhaps that’s why I found it so much more interesting (zing!). Anyway… “Life Through the Lens: The Pictures of Chris Lowell” is a look at the actors many photographs. The man is talented that’s for sure; he discusses his passion for black and white stills, how he became interested in photography and offers narration on various photos. Cast and crew are also interviewed about their thoughts on the pictures. Some of the images are quite striking and it brings a whole new light to the man, who I found to be one of the least strong parts of the show. Runs 8 minutes 7 seconds.

Although there isn’t a single commentary available on any of the episodes, the 23 deleted scenes included on this disc strangely do feature optional audio commentaries. Said commentary is provided by series creator Shonda Rhimes and executive producer Betsy Beers. They include:

Two cuts from “A Family Thing”
- "How to tell without telling" runs for 41 seconds.
- "Please, don’t thank me" runs for 24 seconds.

One cut from “Equal and Opposite”
- "The new receptionist" runs for 1 minute 2 seconds.

Two cuts from “Nothing to Talk About”
- "Change is good" runs for 50 seconds.
- "Thank Addison" runs for 29 seconds.

One cut from “Past Tense”
- "Pete’s worry" runs for 51 seconds.

One cut from “Let It Go”
- "Storage" runs for 24 seconds.

Two cuts from “Know When to Fold”
- "The evil is spreading" runs for 23 seconds.
- "Anything for nothing" runs for 40 seconds.

One cut from “World’s Apart”
- "About last night…" runs for 2 minutes 3 seconds.

Two cuts from “Contamination”
- "Custody to Betsy" runs for 1 minute 13 seconds
- "We go all the way up" runs for 51 seconds.

4 cuts from “Homeward Bound”
- "Making an escape" runs for 55 seconds.
- "All alone" runs for 47 seconds.
- "Patricide" runs for 39 seconds.
- "The pretenses are gone" runs for 57 seconds.

One cut from “Second Chances”
- "Taking is a harder line" runs for 55 seconds.

One cut from “Wait and See”
- "Whatever happens…" runs for 53 seconds.

One cut from “Finishing”
- "We should know" runs for 1 minute 36 seconds.

One cut from “What Women Want”
- "Your Baby’s fine" runs for 26 seconds.

Three cuts from “What You Do For Love”
- "Sanctuary" runs for 56 seconds.
- "Sheldon Proposed" runs for 45 seconds.
- "Sheldon loves you…" runs for 1 minute 26 seconds.

And, finally, rounding out the extras package is the obligatory blooper reel. These things just aren’t funny. I’m sorry but they’re not; not, at least, unless the show or film they supplement is also truly funny. In most cases, such as the reel on “Private Practice,” a drama without an ounce of real, entertaining humor, they fall flat and end up being montages of slates clacking over and over, as the overpaid actors trip over a line after line… This thing runs an agonizing 4 minutes 15 seconds.

And, really finally, a gallery of sneak peek bonus trailers reside in a separate sub-menu. Previews include:

- “Ugly Betty: The Complete Third Season.” Runs 55 seconds. Presented in 4x3 full frame.
- “Life on Mars: The Complete Series.” Runs 1 minute 3 seconds. Presented in 4x3 full frame.
- “Castle: The Complete First Season.” Runs 1 minute 5 seconds. Presented in 4x3 full frame.
- “Cheri.” Runs 1 minute 24 seconds. 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
- “10 Things I Hate About You: 10th Anniversary Special Edition” on DVD and Blu-ray trailer. Runs 59 seconds.
- “Old Dogs” theatrical trailer. Runs 2 minutes 25 seconds. 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
- “Grey’s Anatomy” promo spot. 32 seconds. Presented in 4x3 full frame.


“Private Practice: The Complete Second Season” comes packaged in a 4-panel foldout digi-Pack, which itself is housed inside a slip-case (cover slides over it sideways as opposed to the more conventional “up-down”). The case holds 6 dual layered discs and includes a breakdown of disc contents on the interior flap of the front cover.


The Show: D Video: B Audio: C+ Extras: D Overall: C-


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