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Private Practices shuts its doors

Private Practice poster

Written by : published Thursday 24th January 2013

ABC's Private Practice came to an end this week after six seasons on the air. Some of the plot arcs over the years were fantastic, others not so much. But there are some wonderful characters here, and some memorable stories, and thus, it's sad that it's over. Especially since it ran much shorter than the series it spun off from, Grey's Anatomy, still going strong nine seasons in.

The main character of Private Practice has always been Addison Forbes Montgomery (Kate Walsh). Viewers meet her in Grey's Anatomy, the cheater in a bad marriage, and we watch her pull herself together, mostly after moving away to sunny California. Addison searches for love, both romantic and as a parent, and this all finally comes together for her in "In Which We Say Goodbye."

I don't know that the show has really demonstrated that Jake (Benjamin Bratt) is a better match for Addison than anyone else. To keep the drama going up until the end, they have their rocky moments in the final season. Still, it's thrilling to see Addison get her happy wedding day, and as long as she believes that Jake is the man she is meant to be with, who are we to complain?

Besides, we know that Jake is a good man. We've seen how he treats his daughter (Emily Rios), and what he does to make sure that Addison can keep baby Henry, whom she wants more than anything. He is the type of guy that will sacrifice his own desires so that the ones he cares about get what they need. I don't know that Addison deserves someone quite so good, considering all of her faults, but it's gratifying to see her happy.

The big surprise in "In Which We Say Goodbye" comes when Sam (Taye Diggs) and Naomi (Audra McDonald) hook up, and then she gets pregnant. This, alone, would be enough, and yet, Private Practice takes it a step further. Months pass, Sam goes after Naomi, oblivious about the baby, and the episode ends with their second wedding, Naomi having returned to the practice and her friends.

Is this the ending the makes sense for the characters? After all, when last we saw Naomi, she was happily engaged. Sam is in a relationship with a wonderful woman, Stephanie (Justina Machado, Six Feet Under) throughout the past few installments. Why break up these pairings at the last minute?

That's the thing about the Private Practice finale. It gives the perfect resolution for each character, one that will pull the heart strings of the viewer, even if it doesn't quite fit with where the plot was going. The emphasis is placed on giving us the sappy. I don't know if that's the goal of every show as it goes off the air, but because of the way this show has played out, it works here.

Other stories are more mundane, but still sweet. Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) probably has the least to do, but we see things are going well with her and James (Matt Long, Mad Men), and that's enough. Cooper (Paul Adelstein), Charlotte (KaDee Strickland), Mason (Griffin Gluck), and the triplets find their balance as a terrific family. I loved this most of all, Cooper and Charlotte being my favorite people on the show. Sheldon (Brian Benben) gets to be with the woman he loves, even though she is dying.

Sheldon's plot is the only one I complain a bit about in this group. I know that there is no way to avoid his love interest kicking the bucket, and thus, he will be sad, while the others are smiling. But this would have been OK if he had returned to his job, months later, and we could see him laughing with everyone else in that final scene. Instead, he is the sole one missing, and it casts a slight pallor, knowing that where he is cannot be nearly as joyous at the practice.

Is this woman even who Sheldon is meant to be with? He has a tendency to jump into a relationship full force, and it is easily conceivable that she is just the latest in the line. "In Which We Say Goodbye" would have us believe otherwise, that she is Sheldon's soul mate, but like Jake with Addison, we don't really see what sets her apart from the other women Sheldon has loved. Thus, I'm a little bit depressed that he leaves everything else that is good in his world to care for her. He should have kept his job, and with it, the network of support at work.

Finally, we get to Violet (Amy Brenneman). She goes stag to the wedding, a sign that she is moving on from Pete and finding herself, something the character has always struggled with. This is a fitting ending for her, as Violet's plots have always been more about self-discovery and triumph, rather than depending on a love interest, the way other characters have. We get to see her doing well, probably temporarily, until the next tragedy comes along, but at least she'll have this moment in time.

It's a little too on the nose that Violet's second book about "joy" is called Private Practice. Are we supposed to think that everything we've seen over the last six years came from her book? I wouldn't think so, considering the early days were so Addison-driven. I enjoyed the characters debating whether it was a good title or not, but it does take one out of the story a bit in that moment, sacrificing the believable world the characters inhabit for a joke.

Violet also treats a patient (Sarah Ramos, Parenthood) in the finale that doesn't want to leave her. Series creator Shonda Rhimes has stated that the patient's words are her message to the fans. So Shonda doesn't want the show to be canceled, but realizes it's for the best? I'm not sure I quite understand. However, it's her show, so she can say whatever she wants. I just thank her for making it.

That's kind of my overall impression of Private Practice at this moment. I didn't always agree with the direction, and sometimes it frustrated the hell out of me. But it was definitely Shonda's vision, and at the end of the day, she knows how to jerk a tear, or help an actor develop a fully realized person. As I watched the last hour, I couldn't help but thinking, despite my periodic disappointments, it was a pretty darn good show, overall, and I wasn't ready for it to end.

At least it went out with a great last season. Private Practice will be missed.

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About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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