First Impressions

Private Practice / Big Shots

Aired on: ABC

Reviewed by Ismael Manzano


When it rains it pours, it seems, as evidenced by the new torrent of Fall television shows.  As such, I have yet another First Impressions for my loyal readers to enjoy.  Today we will be discussing two ABC dramedies.  The first is the much anticipated Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, Private Practice, and the much hyped Big Shots.

I’d like to start with Private Practice, ABC’s new Wednesday night dramedy, featuring Kate Walsh, reprising her role as relationship-troubled, neonatal surgeon, Addison Shepard.  In need of a change from the exciting and emotionally jarring world of Seattle Grace, Dr. Shepard moves to LA to start a new life in a private practice—hence the name—faculty with her old friend Naomi (Audra McDonald, The Bedford Diaries).  Unfortunately the lives of this little practice are not as carefree as Addison might have hoped.  Naomi and her husband, Sam (Taye Diggs, Rent) are recently divorced, but maintain a tenuous working relationship, and Naomi not only found Addison an apartment directly next door to Sam but failed to mention to the other members of the practice—Cooper (Paul Adelstein, Prison Break), Pete (Tim Daly, The Nine) and Violet (Amy Brenneman, Judging Amy)—about their new addition.  Needless to say, the others don’t want her around, strictly out of pride and principal.

This introductory episode showcases—among other stories—a couple looking to have a baby via artificial insemination.  The elderly would-be-father drops of a stroke and dies.  The girlfriend, distraught, but unwavering in her desire to have a kid goes on a tirade and demands to have the doctors take her dead boyfriend’s sperm so that she can have his baby after all.  When the boyfriend’s wife shows up to claim possession of the deceased’s sperm—are you bored yet?—the tenuous relationship between Sam and Naomi are stressed even further as both take sides that reflect their feelings toward their own marriage. 

Meanwhile, Addison is struggling to find her place and earn the respect of the others, some of whom, she does not respect herself—namely Pete, the holistic doctor who believes she came to work there because of a shared kiss in the Grey’s episode that set up this upcoming spin-off.  Can she make the jump from the hectic, hustle and bustle of a major metropolitan hospital to the small-time, snails’ crawl work of this private practice?

Overall, I was not impressed with this show.  Addison was so good in Grey’s as a foil for Derek and Meredith, but on her own, surrounded by these people whom I care little or nothing for, Addison doesn’t shine.  There was a pointless montage in the beginning of her explaining the personalities of her new co-workers to her former boss—yeah, it was insultingly stupid.  Even though Addison already quit her last job, moved to another State and agreed to work for her friend, Addison seems to have forgotten to do any type of research as to the job she would be doing or to get any information whatsoever about the place, save what she’d learned in the Grey’s episode.  To top it all off, the characters spent a lot of time in a regular hospital anyway, soooo….why not just have it in a hospital?  I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  Overall, not a good start.   

            Now I will move onto ABC’s Thursday night dramedy, the much talked about Big Shots.  I must be honest, that I had no intention of watching this show; it was entirely not my idea.  The idea of stuffy, power-hungry businessmen and their ‘troubled’ lives was not an appealing one to me and I had to be talked into watching it.  That the show was billed as Desperate Housewives for men, did nothing to make me want to watch it, as the boost came off as arrogant.  What can I say?  I don’t like shows where everyone wears a suit.  I don’t wear suits.  I’ve gone through most of my life without needing to wear one, so I can’t relate to people making billion dollar deals in a thousand dollar suit while bitching about their stocks going down a point and how their lives will never recover because of it.

            So without further delay, onto my review of Big Shots.  It follows the lives of four friends and high-powered businessmen through their own brand of trials and tribulations.  The pilot episode shows, Duncan Collingsworth (Dylan McDermott, The Practice), enjoying his divorce by engaging in wine-cellar sex with his ex-wife, struggling to maintain a relationship with his estranged daughter, and trying to bury an embarrassing arrest record stemming from a chance encounter with a not-quite-female prostitute.  

Brody Johns, (Christopher Titus, Titus) is—big surprise, a high powered businessman who is a self-proclaimed ‘whipped’ husband to a wife who seems borderline obsessed with party-planning and is driving him nuts to get all of the details just right.  Karl Mixworthy (Joshua Malina, West Wing), is a pharmaceutical mogul who is guilt-ridden about cheating on his wonderful, selfless wife, but is unwilling to break off his relationship with his younger, sluttier mistress.  One scene has Karl, in a bid to satisfy his mistress’ need to be have everything his wife has, taking her to the same couples counselor as he takes his wife. 

Finally, I come to James Auster, (Michael Vartan, Alias), who seems to be the focal character of the show.  The teaser shows golden boy James getting laid off by a boss who later dies at the hands of a runaway Mexican-driven golf cart before he can go public with the termination.  The aftermath of this death reveals a secret within his family that he had never expected, leaving him reeling and clinging to his friends for support. 

            Well that’s the brief overall of the pilot episode of Big Shots, so now let’s move onto the review.  First off, I would like to say that Titus does a brilliant job of playing up the humor without going over the top or coming off like a comedian in a business suit; so congratulations to him, I didn’t know he had it in him.  Overall, I really liked the show.  I thought it was witty and entertaining, with enough humor and oh-my-god moments keep you interested and coming back for more. 

So, despite my initial reservations about the show’s premise and what the characters I thought it would portray, I found that I actually liked and connected to most of the characters.  They had more depth than the previews—or the opening teaser for that matter—implied, and I found myself caring what happened to them.  It had everything a good drama show should have: tension, conflict, humor….sex in a wine cellar.  In short, I liked the show, a lot.  And if you can get past the whole “Desperate Housewives for Men,” tag that’s been ironed onto this show’s lapels and the image of power-hungry millionaires chomping away at the moral fiber of society, you’ll probably like it too.  Check it out for yourself and see if I’m wrong.


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