Shonda Rhimes has taken her virtual scalpel and excised from the coming season of ABC’s Private Practice much of the B-story medical drama to make way for more personal stories and deliver a reformatted show that she likens to “13 little movies.”
“I said that if we’re going to have 13 episodes this season, we’re going to make 13 little movies, as opposed to having the template of a fully procedural aspect,” the series’ creator told TVLine during a recent set visit. Meaning, “We’re trying to be really creative about how we tell these episodes. Like, there are no rules.”
As such (and as has been previously reported), starting a few episodes into Season 6, each Private Practice hour will focus on the viewpoint of one doctor, sometimes glimpsing previously told stories in a new way, Rashomon-style. “It’s a really cool idea,” attests Paul Adelstein. “You’ll see storylines from other episodes in the background, but from a new person’s perspective, so you see different things happen.”
The net result is a Private Practice season that, should it only run 13 episodes (through the end of Kate Walsh’s contract with the show), will come off as undeniably unique. “The show has a very different feel, and to be able to say that six years in is incredible,” notes KaDee Strickland. “It’s a feat, and that’s no joke.”
But first, starting tonight at 10/9c, Private Practice must pick up the pieces from the season finale, in which Addison fielded a marriage proposal from Sam just as she was about to dive into something with Jake, Pete was arrested for euthanizing a patient, and Amelia was reeling from birthing her ill-fated baby. Here’s what the series’ cast was able to reveal about the new season.
ADDISON, SAM AND JAKE (AND LI’L HENRY, TOO) | Expect to spend most of the premiere waiting to deduce which fella Addison chose. As Taye Diggs explains, “The episode is designed in a fashion where up until the end, you are literally teased so you only see a portion of what her decision was.” So, Benjamin Bratt adds, while you will spy “Sam without clothes in one bedroom, and see me walking into another bedroom, you won’t know where the characters are.” As for the little man in Ad’s life, “You’re definitely going to see Henry,” Walsh promises with a big smile. “That baby is so cute, and one of my favorite jobs is getting to play with him!”
VIOLET AND PETE (MINUS PETE) | With Tim Daly gone from the cast — and this being a Shonda show — all Amy Brenneman could reveal about the fall-out of Pete’s arrest is “it’s something that many, many people and many, many women have gone through… a moment where you get to tell a story that’s very universal…. It’s an all-new, brave world [for Violet].” Rhimes in turn teases “a really interesting and beautiful journey” for Brenneman’s character.
CHARLOTTE AND COOPER (AND MASON — DON’T FORGET MASON!) | All told, Strickland teases, “You’ve never seen [Charlotte and Cooper] like you’re going to see them this season — and you’ve seen them a lot of different ways and positions, honey!” (Hmm, is she alluding to the infamous 100th episode that alarmed Standards & Practices?) On the assuredly G-rated side, Adelstein says that as Charlotte and Cooper settle into their roles as parents to young Mason, “[They realize] that everything that happens to them, everything they want to do in their lives, has a residual and major effect on this kid. I don’t think they’ve really thought that through until it really hits home.” One thing we know about the premiere is that Charlotte confides in her hubby a big secret. Could Mason be getting a sib? “It’s Private Practice, and she’s a double board-certified neonatal surgeon,” Strickland deflects. “There are always babies on this show!”
AMELIA AND SHELDON | Caterina Scorsone says that in the three months that have lapsed, Amelia “has been grieving the losses that she suffered last year and finding new footing… so she has emerged with a slightly different attitude.” Brian Benben meanwhile says, “There’s someone from Sheldon’s past that he’s sort of revisiting a relationship with, in a tangential way.”
THE GOODBYE GIRL | Walsh has left it entirely up to da boss how Addison will exit the series in Episode 13. After all, “Shonda and the rest of the writers have always had my back, so… I’ve always put my faith in them. I just trust that it will be really, really delicious.” And happy…? “Yeah, why not!” Walsh concurs. “Or whatever. I’m open to whatever!” (With reporting by Vlada Gelman)