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TV Quick Takes: Kevin McKidd Single-Handedly Saved Grey’s Anatomy

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageIt is no secret to anyone that the quality of Grey’s Anatomy has declined over the last year or so. The numerous scandals surrounding the production lately only make that all the clearer. Let's have a look at the latest disasters before we introduce the man to save us all.

Brooke Smith was suddenly “let go”, “written out” or whatever you want to call it, when the lesbian storyline between her character Dr. Erica Hahn and Sara Ramirez’s Dr. Callie Torres took off. Apparently ABC doesn’t feel comfortable with such a “daring” plot, when actually I think it could have made a big difference in the gay and lesbian community. It could have made up for the respect that was lost for the show when a couple years ago Isaiah Washington called T.R. Knight a homophobic slur I do not wish to repeat.
But instead of embracing a new demographic that could have helped save the ratings of Grey’s Anatomy, someone at ABC decided that same sex relationships still belong on obscure cable networks.

Now one of the early stars of the show, previously mentioned T.R. Knight, wants to be written out and apparently his wish was granted. He has denied rumors that this has to do with discussed dissing of a same sex relationship that went on. Looking at how little screen time Knight’s character George O’Malley got this season, I believe him. Even though I don’t think he will find a more lucrative job any time soon. He is not exactly leading man material. Just like George O’Malley he is too soft, too nice, too cuddly in a world where elbows and sex with superiors gets you where you want to go. Uhm…at least within the reality of Seattle Grace Hospital, that is.

ImageAdd to all this production drama the ridiculous storyline of the dead Denny Duquette returning as a ghost/invisible lover only Izzie can see and you have a recipe for a disastrous season of a hit TV show.
It has been speculated that Izzie might have a brain tumor that causes her to imagine Denny everywhere. Creator Shonda Rhimes has denied this. Which leaves either a trip to the psych ward for Izzie or a really lame resolution in the form of “She just has some issues to work out and once she does, Denny will go away”. I really hope the writers have this one carefully planned out and have a surprise turnaround up their sleeves. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, just like I am trusting the writers of House to do the right thing and have a plan with all these new ducklings they introduced. But I am not sure how much longer I can hang on in Grey’s case. It helps that I was always a fan of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, so seeing him around every week merely bothers me on the level of “Seattle Grace reality”, not in my own reality.

You see how one of the most popular shows on television has turned into a huge mess. A fact that even the show itself tries to comment on in a self-reflecting way by making Seattle Grace fall to No. 12 in the hospital rankings and the Chief lamenting how messy everything has become and how he cannot figure out what do against it. I could almost feel for the poor, helpless writers screaming out from the writers’ room via these statements.

ImageAnd into this giant mess steps the one man that will be the savior of the show, in “Seattle Grace reality” and real reality. In Army camouflage and with fast, efficient strides Kevin McKidd strolled onto the scene and nothing will ever be the same again.
(You may know Kevin McKidd from his much lauded turn as Lucius Vorenus in HBO’s Rome or as Dan Vasser in the cult hit Journeyman, which was prematurely canceled.)

He first appeared in Episode One this season, in which he performed a tracheotomy on a man with a ballpoint pen, stapled his own leg back together, clashed heads with McDreamy, removed an icicle from Cristina’s stomach and passionately kissed her on top of it. He was offered a job by the Chief, but declined and disappeared. What an entrance!!!

Dr./Major Owen Hunt, as his character is called, returned four episodes later, traumatized from his last tour in Iraq, where he lost all 19 men of his unit and was subsequently dismissed from being a trauma surgeon in the Army. In this episode he stabs a couple of live pigs in the gut and can’t even remember Cristina’s name.
When she confronts him about it, he says he knew her name in the Before, but now he lives in the After. And nothing really makes sense to him anymore.

ImageOver the next couple of weeks we saw Cristina and Owen share what were the most intense moments on the show since previously mentioned Denny died. They would silently stare at each other, words failing especially Owen time and time again. And when they didn’t, when he finally managed to get one sentence out, it was something as sublimely out of the blue as “I think you’re beautiful” when sitting on the steps in front of her apartment.

Kevin McKidd brings a rare and missed maturity to Grey’s Anatomy with his character. Owen Hunt is over the childish “Who dates whom and who sleeps with whom?” games and instead is looking for a real human connection. Something he is not sure he is capable of, after everything he has been through “in the Sandpit”.
He is professional when at work, he really loves his job and wants to do his best and he hasn’t lost respect for his patients like the other surgeons sometimes appear to have when they quibble over who gets to cut a guy open.

ImageIn the few scenes Kevin McKidd has each episode he always manages to steal the spotlight, because every gesture, every look, every posture is spot-on. The same way his accent his, because, yes, you guessed it, McKidd is another one of those Brits stealing American jobs on television. He is Scottish though in contrast to the English Hugh Laurie and Damian Lewis.

In any case, Kevin McKidd is an actor’s actor and it shines through. It is very fortunate indeed that he is paired with Sandra Oh, because you can say about her looks what you like, she is one of the more talented actresses on the cast (along with Chandra Wilson as Dr. Bailey). McKidd and Oh manage to give us the few realistic moments a show as unrealistic as Grey’s Anatomy can give. With one shared look they hint at all the volumes that still have to be spoken between them, all the mountains they still have to climb and at the same time they establish that there is a connection no one can deny between them.

ImageThe fact that Kevin McKidd was made a regular cast member was the best news item I have read all TV season, because it means we will finally get an adult relationship on Grey’s Anatomy, one that develops slowly and steadily. There will be the appropriate amount of kissing and making out, because after all this still is Grey’s Anatomy, but it won’t feature ghosts or annoying Australian ex-best friends or tequila-induced infidelities.

Kevin McKidd with all his wondrous acting ability has given all of us the best and mostly only good reason to keep tuning in every week into a show that was a lame duck for a long time now. Thank you, Kevin!