‘Private Practice,’ a hit on DVD

Medical dramas are a dime a dozen, but when it comes to mixing life or death situations with humor and melodrama, nobody does it better than ABC’s “Private Practice.” As a spin-off of ratings powerhouse “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice” held its own in the first season.

Now that the season has arrived on DVD, “Private Practice – The Complete First Season: Extended Edition, ” is a three-disc set that is sure to make fans happy to return to the Oceanside Wellness Group. Created by Golden Globe winner, screenwriter Shonda Rhimes, “Private Practice” centers on Dr. Addison Forbes Montgomery, portrayed realistically by the stunning Kate Walsh.

Of all the distinctive “Grey’s Anatomy” characters, Rhimes felt Addison was just the right person to command her own spin-off. It turns out she was right.

Walsh has the ability to dominate a screen like no other and her character has been wonderfully fleshed out from her “Grey’s Anatomy” incarnation in order to assume the lead role in her own show.

Tackling an array of dramatic medical cases in every episode, “Private Practice” was one of the most anticipated new shows of 2007 and features one of the best ensembles on television today. Among those wonderful cast members is four-time Tony award winner Audra McDonald who portrays Dr. Naomi Bennett, a fertility specialist with a hankering for chocolate cake. Taye Diggs plays her ex-husband, Dr. Sam Bennett, a self-help guru with a loyal fan following.

Adding flavor to the mix is the talented Amy Brenneman as Dr. Violet Turner, a psychiatrist with relationship issues and the handsome Tim Daly as Dr. Pete Wilder, Addison’s love interest. Rounding out the cast is Paul Adelstein as naughty pediatrician Dr. Cooper Friedman, Chris Lowell as hunky surfer Dell, and KaDee Strickland as Dr. Charlotte King, the head of a rival hospital who disapproves of the practice’s medical philosophies.

The chemistry between the characters is quite evident, but none exude as much chemistry as Walsh and McDonald. Each of their scenes seems to pop and that’s a good thing considering the show handles some pretty sad medical situations.

Spin-off TV shows can sometimes pose a threat for some producers, but “Private Practice” manages to get it just right. One of the things the series did to seperate itself from “Grey’s Anatomy” was switching locations from drab Seattle to sunny California, which proved to be a smart move.

Despite the many positive aspects of the show, “Private Practice” was affected by the Writers Guild of America strike, and as a result the first season was reduced to a batch of nine episodes. Each episode is included in the new DVD set which is also loaded with a bunch of bonus features. Among those nifty features are deleted scenes, outtakes and full-fledged episode commentaries.

The best of the bunch may just be “Alternative Ensemble: Behind the Scenes of Private Practice,” a fun featurette that gives fans an in-depth glance into producing an episode.

The episodes themselves are nothing short of magnificent. Each one is presented in a widescreen ratio of 1.78:1 that is enhanced for 16×9 television sets. As far as the audio is concerned, the resonance is rather crisp with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.

The second season of “Private Practice” began on Wednesday Oct. 1, and so far, the show has continued to garner a loyal fan following. The ratings dipped a bit, but in due time viewers will find their way back to the medical drama.

After all, it’s true what they say – practice does make perfect.