Following an unprecedented six-month production shutdown, Grey’s Anatomy is scrubbing back in.
TVLine has learned that ABC’s top-rated medical drama, which saw work on its 16th season come to an abrupt halt last March due to COVID-19, is tentatively scheduled to begin production on Season 17 the week of Sept. 7. The first (virtual) table read, meanwhile, is slated to take place Thursday, Sept. 3. ABC declined comment.
As previously reported, Grey’s is planning to incorporate the real-life coronavirus pandemic into the new season, with co-star Giacomo Gianniotti recently confirming that the premiere will pick up six weeks into the global crisis. Showrunner Krista Vernoff, meanwhile, previewed that COVID-19 would permeate the doctors’ personal and professional lives.
As a factor in Season 17 storytelling, Vernoff said, “There’s joy and fun to be had in people who are quarantining away from the hospital,” especially for the docs who, to protect loved ones, crash elsewhere between shifts. As we have seen in real life, “Many of [these doctors] aren’t going home to their families; they’re getting Airbnbs and living together,” Vernoff noted.
“There’s a lot of story to tell that is sort of COVID-related but not about death and despair,” she added.
Vernoff also pointed out there are storytelling possibilities when it comes to the cancellation or postponement of elective surgeries, both in how that can result in surgical nurses being furloughed due to lack of work, or in Dr. Grey & Co. not getting to do what they do best. “Our show is a surgical show,” the EP reminded, “and there are a lot of surgeries that are simply not happening.”
What’s more, there are medical stories to be found in the fact that “death has increased in this country particularly because people were in the early months [of an illness] and are still afraid to go to the doctor, afraid to go to the hospital,” said Vernoff.
Grey’s Anatomy‘s delayed 17th season is slated to premiere on ABC later this fall.