How ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ sent off Meredith Grey (for now): 5 key takeaways
Welcome to Screen Gab, the newsletter for everyone who’s committed to “Grey’s Anatomy,” even without its heroine and namesake — and those who might be thinking, “Wait, that show’s still on?!”
In Screen Gab No. 72, avowed “Grey’s” stan Yvonne Villarreal breaks down Meredith Grey’s farewell to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, and with it star Ellen Pompeo’s shift out of her series regular role for the first time since the series premiere in... 2005. (If we could publish the “Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’” emoji here, we would.)
Also this week, “Wolf Pack’s” Rodrigo Santoro stops by to sing the praises of co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar, “M3GAN” comes to streaming and more. As always, we also want to know what you’re watching! Pretend we’re at the water cooler and give us your review of a TV show or streaming movie you’ve loved — it may be included in a future edition of Screen Gab. (Submissions should be approximately 100 to 150 words and sent to email@example.com with your name and location.)
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Recommendations from the film and TV experts at The Times
A progressive feminist mystery series set around the historical character of Italy’s first female lawyer, “The Law According to Lidia Poët” (Netflix) takes us to 1880s Turin, where Lidia (Matilda De Angelis) is accepted to the bar, then kicked out by grumpy old men in power. And so, in order to achieve justice for the wrongly accused and socially outcast — including anarchists, artists and addicts — while she frames her appeal, she turns detective, attaching herself as an assistant to her lawyer brother Enrico (Pier Luigi Pasino), in whose big house she comes to live, alongside his family and handsome journalist brother-in-law Jacobo (Eduardo Scarpetta). (More to the point, Enrico is the instrument through which she works.) Smart, exciting and a little naughty — Gratuitous Nudity Alert — it samples a variety of social strata and historical moments, while spinning some affecting domestic arcs. (Among other things, Lidia offers modern advice to her lovestruck teenage niece Marianna, played by Sinéad Thornhill.) And, as with the best period pieces, it’s just nice to look at. — Robert Lloyd
TV dads are having a moment right now thanks to “The Last of Us” and “The Mandalorian” star Pedro Pascal, so my pick this week is a show with two dads. I had no idea what to expect from “Buddy Daddies” (Crunchyroll), a series I stumbled upon while scrolling aimlessly through suggestions on my home screen and started based solely on the title. It turns out the algorithm can get things right sometimes! The anime series follows two contract killers and the 4-year-old they take in after pulling off a chaotic but successful hit on the kid’s biological father. It may seem like an outrageous premise for a heartfelt found-family comedy, but the ongoing first season has so far focused much more on the steep learning curve of parenting than platonic odd-couple Kazuki and Rei’s secret profession. Their new charge, Miri, is excitable, messy, a picky eater, affectionate, needy and kind, which endears her to her new dads (one more quickly than the other). But beyond the more lighthearted laughs that come from watching Kazuki and Rei navigate enrolling Miri in preschool and her subsequent school activities, the show also touches on the pair’s tragic childhoods and how their family histories have shaped who they’ve become and their approaches to parenting. — Tracy Brown
Everything you need to know about the film or TV series everyone’s talking about
She acts like a tween, is made of titanium and already took movie theaters and TikTok by storm this year — and if you have yet to meet M3GAN, your chance arrives Friday when Universal’s meme-queen AI killer doll makes her streaming debut.
January’s delightfully twisted PG-13 horror hit from director Gerard Johnstone (“Housebound”) and writer Akela Cooper (of 2021’s bonkers horror must-see “Malignant”) follows a career-driven roboticist (Allison Williams) who pairs her latest invention — a child-like “companion” doll with self-learning capabilities and a penchant for murder — to her orphaned niece Cady (Violet McGraw), intent on mass-marketing M3GANs to distracted parents everywhere. What could possibly go wrong? Marking a fruitful collaboration between horror super-producers James Wan and Jason Blum, “M3GAN” went viral the moment its first trailer hit the internet with its audacious premise, uncannily lifelike star and her disturbingly mesmerizing signature dance, co-choreographed by 11-year-old M3GAN performer Amie Donald and recreated obsessively across social media. It’s already grossed $170 million worldwide against a reported $12 million production budget, making it a no-brainer for Universal to greenlight a sequel, “M3GAN 2.0,” due in theaters in 2025.
Described by critic Katie Walsh as “’The Terminator’ in an ‘Annabelle’ wig, Chucky by way of ‘The Bad Seed,’” “M3GAN’s” the latest studio big swing to push mainstream horror into its new camp era — a shift genre fans should welcome with arms open as wide as Mother’s from “Barbarian.” But obsessive horror hounds also know that “M3GAN” was originally gorier before the trailer’s viral success prompted Universal to trim its theatrical release to a PG-13 rating, a move that paid off in droves of young fans. Which is why this weekend’s an even better time to have Siri and Alexa set a playdate with your new BFF: Peacock will offer not only the theatrical cut of “M3GAN” to stream, but also the slightly more violent unrated version that Cooper teased to The Times last month, featuring grisly additional shots in existing kill scenes. — Jen Yamato
A weekly chat with actors, writers, directors and more about what they’re working on — and what they’re watching
Rom-com fans of a certain age (that is, mine) have spent no small number of “Love Actually” re-watches yelling at Laura Linney: “Don’t pick up the phone!” That’s because the incessant ringing interrupts, and ultimately dashes, her long-pined-for romance with Rodrigo Santoro. In the 20 years since his breakout role in Richard Curtis’ contested Christmas classic, he has not lost his matinee idol looks, but he has stretched his legs with roles in a wide variety of genres — including, mostly recently, as park ranger Garrett Briggs in the Paramount+ “Teen Wolf” spinoff “Wolf Pack,” opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar. Santoro stopped by Screen Gab to discuss sharing the screen with Buffy herself, what he’s watching and more. — Matt Brennan
What have you watched recently that you are recommending to everyone you know?
“The Offer” on Paramount+. I love the performances.
What’s your go-to “comfort watch,” the movie or TV show you go back to again and again?
“Succession” [HBO Max]. I can’t wait for the next season to start.
You appear in “Wolf Pack” opposite Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy the Vampire Slayer herself. What do you think has made her such a compelling heroine, then and now?
You only need a few minutes with Sarah to understand how strong, intelligent and mindful she is. Her light shines very bright.
You’ve appeared in historical epics (“300”), beloved romantic comedies (“Love Actually”), sci-fi (“Westworld”), the works — but not fantasy like “Wolf Pack.” What has been your favorite aspect of delving into this new genre?
It feels like there are two sides to it: First, a different kind of freedom involved and second, the [ability] to materialize a creature that surpasses the laws of nature. I am enjoying exploring it.
Times staffers chew on the pop culture of the moment — love it, hate it or somewhere in between
During the run of “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC), she has stuck her hand into a live bomb, nearly drowned while treating victims of a ferryboat accident, been placed on a ventilator after contracting COVID-19, and watched her home go up in smoke — the list goes on and on. Yet the resilient and inspiring Meredith Grey managed to scrub out of Grey Sloan Memorial without catastrophe, if plenty of heart (and heartbreak).
Six months after fans nearly went into cardiac arrest with news that Ellen Pompeo, who has portrayed the show’s namesake for nearly two decades, would scale back her presence and appear in only eight episodes of the show’s current 19th season, the understated goodbye (for now, presumably) arrived with Thursday’s midseason premiere.
The first half of the season laid the groundwork for the seismic departure as Meredith, no stranger to confronting life’s curveballs with composure, searched for a school that would cater to the needs of her gifted daughter Zola (Aniela Gumbs), while also trying to alleviate her increasing anxiety. (Zola worries that her family members, namely Meredith, are carrying the gene for Alzheimer’s, the disease that afflicted her late grandmother.) A trip to Boston provided some clarity: Zola fell in love with a STEM school there and Meredith decided to take Jackson (Jesse Williams) up on his suggestion that she work on finding a cure for Alzheimer’s at the Avery Foundation, which is based there. In Pompeo’s final episode as a series regular, titled “I’ll Follow the Sun,” Meredith sets out on her last shift at Grey Sloan before setting off to Boston from Seattle.
The Shonda Rhimes drama has seen many cast shake-ups, but none as significant as this. The move makes room for Pompeo to star in and executive produce an upcoming, untitled Hulu limited series inspired by a bizarre true story of a Ukrainian orphan and her adoptive parents. And while fans will now see less of Pompeo on “Grey’s Anatomy” — Thursday’s episode is the seventh of eight in which she’s expected to appear in this season, with no word on when she might return — she will continue to provide the character’s trademark narration and serve as an executive producer on the show.
Here are five key takeaways from the episode:
Even brilliant heroines don’t always get a triumphant final day at work. Meredith’s hopes of leaving Grey Sloan on a high note were sullied: Her last surgery, which involved returning patient Tessa Hobbes (Patricia Richardson), ended in the death of the beloved children’s book author.
Will Nick follow his haht and move to Massachusetts? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . Upset that Meredith did not involve him in her decision to move, Nick Marsh (Scott Speedman) starts off the episode struggling to figure out where their relationship stands. After unsuccessfully chasing after Meredith once she boards her flight to Boston, he calls to express his love for her. She doesn’t know what to say, so she lies, giving a response that can best be described as a combination of “I choose me” and “new phone, who dis?”: “I can’t quite hear you,” she says. “We’re about to take off, so I’ll call you when we get settled.”
What’s the fate of the residency program? It’s unclear what the future holds for Nick just yet, but the first-year surgical residents he oversees are making themselves at home. Simone Griffith (Alexis Floyd), Lucas Adams (Niko Terho), and Mika Yasuda (Midori Francis) wind up moving into Grey’s fire-damaged house — the next generation taking the baton.
Who’s going to be the new chief? Teddy Altman (Kim Raver). Maybe, probably. After spending the episode heavily hinting to Webber (James Pickens Jr.) that she was best suited to step into Grey’s shoes as the new chief, Altman was given the option after Webber laid out the reasons he was being cautious about the replacement search. So Altman is going to think about it. But let’s hope that doesn’t signal a name change for the show in the near future? “Altman’s Anatomy’’ doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.
She’ll be back. As if speaking directly to viewers, Meredith assures her colleagues at her surprise farewell gathering that she won’t totally disappear. “This is very thoughtful … and ridiculous because I’m only going to Boston and you know I’ll probably be here next week.”
P.S. If you need consoling, just remember Mariska Hargitay remains a constant source of strength and comfort as Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: SVU.” — Yvonne Villarreal
Listings coordinator Matt Cooper highlights the TV shows and streaming movies to keep an eye on
Fri., Feb. 24
“Bruiser” (Hulu): A Black teen (Jalyn Hall) finds himself in a tug-of-war between two very different father figures in this 2023 coming-of-age drama.
“The Consultant” (Prime Video): A mystery man (“Inglourious Basterds’” Christoph Waltz) takes charge of a game-design studio in this darkly comic drama.
“Liaison” (Apple TV+): Vincent Cassel and “Casino Royale’s” Eva Green play ex-lovers/spies trying to thwart a cyberattack in London in this new six-part thriller.
“Nocebo” (Shudder, AMC+): A fashion designer (the aforementioned Eva Green) struck by a mysterious illness turns to a Filipina folk healer (Chai Fonacier) in this 2022 psychological thriller.
“The Reluctant Traveler” (Apple TV+): Eugene Levy isn’t in “Schitt’s Creek” anymore in the comedy veteran’s new travelogue.
“We Have a Ghost” (Netflix): “Stranger Things’” David Harbour plays the titular specter in this family friendly 2023 comedy. With Anthony Mackie.
“Newlywed Nightmare” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): It’s no honeymoon when a man’s new missus goes missing in this new thriller.
“Great Performances” (KOCE, 9 p.m.): Opera greats Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman make a joyful noise in a 1990 Carnegie Hall concert in “The Magic of Spirituals.”
“Love After Lockup: Life After Lockup” (WE, 9 p.m.): The unscripted series is back with new episodes.
“Party Down” (Starz, 9 p.m.): The original cast — sans Lizzy Caplan — reunites for a reboot of this 2009-10 comedy about a crew of hapless caterers.
Sat., Feb. 25
“The Weeknd: Live at SoFi Stadium” (HBO, 5 p.m.): Ladies and gentlemen, the chart-topping hip-hop star takes it to the stage in this new concert special.
“54th NAACP Image Awards” (BET, 8 p.m.): “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” leads the field with 12 nominations at the annual ceremony.
“Made for Each Other” (Hallmark, 8 p.m.): A sculptor hooks up with a hunky statue in this fantastical new TV movie.
“12 Desperate Hours” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): A suburban mom (Samantha Mathis) goes to extreme lengths to protect her family in this new thriller.
“Cold Justice” (Oxygen, 8 p.m.): The investigative series is back with new episodes.
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 8:29 and 11:29 p.m.): Woody Harrelson hosts and rocker Jack White performs.
Sun., Feb. 26
“The 29th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards” (Netflix’s YouTube channel, 5 p.m.): We really like her! Two-time Oscar winner Sally Field is singled out for special honors at this year’s shindig.
“The Paramedic Who Stalked Me” (Lifetime, 8 p.m.): He saved her life but she’s not out of the woods yet in this new thriller. With Lexi Minetree.
“The Circus” (Showtime, 8 p.m.): It’s back to politics as usual in new episodes of this D.C.-set docuseries.
“Royal Rendezvous” (E!, 9 p.m.): A chef from East L.A. hooks up with a hunky Irish nobleman in this new rom-com. With “One Day at a Time’s” Isabella Gomez.
“Wicked Tuna” (Nat Geo, 9 p.m.): The unscripted series about tuna fish and the fishermen who catch them sets sail for another season.
“The Devil’s Academy” (Travel, 9 p.m.): This new documentary investigates a bizarre case of purported mass demonic possession at a Miami school in 1979.
“The Blacklist” (NBC, 10 p.m.): James Spader returns as criminal mastermind Raymond “Red” Reddington for a 10th season of the espionage drama.
“Lavell Crawford: Thee Lavell Crawford” (Showtime, 10 p.m.): He’s the genuine article in this new stand-up special filmed in New Orleans.
Mon., Feb. 27
“America’s Got Talent: All-Stars” (NBC, 8 p.m.): See who takes home the trophy and a big cash prize in the reality TV spinoff’s freshman-season finale. Terry Crews hosts.
“NCIS” (CBS, 9 p.m.): The procedural drama hits the 450-episode mark.
Tue., Feb. 28
“Night Court” (NBC, 8 p.m.): “Murphy Brown’s” Faith Ford guest stars on a new episode of the rebooted courtroom comedy.
“Homestead Rescue” (Discovery, 8 p.m.): This renovation series for them folks what live off the grid returns for a 10th season.
“La Brea” (NBC, 9 and 10 p.m.): This “Lost”-meets-“Land of the Lost” sci-fi drama wraps its sophomore season with back-to-back episodes.
“Help! I’m in a Secret Relationship” (MTV, 9 p.m.): They may not be on the down-low much longer as the reality series returns.
“CMT Crossroads” (CMT, 10 p.m.): For King + Country, the Christian pop duo from the land down under, shares the stage with country music’s Jimmie Allen in this new episode.
Wed., March 1
“The Mandalorian” (Disney+): We haven’t seen the last of our hero (Pedro Pascal) or his little green sidekick Grogu — a.k.a. Baby Yoda — as this adventure drama set in the “Star Wars” universe launches a third season.
“Survivor” (CBS, 8 p.m.): See who outwits, outplays and outlasts whom as the reality competition returns to Fiji for its 44th season. With host Jeff Probst.
“True Lies” (CBS, 10 p.m.): He spies, she spies, they all spy in this new action drama based on James Cameron’s 1994 action comedy. With “Reba’s” Steve Howey and “She-Hulk’s” Ginger Gonzaga.
Thu., March 2
“Sex/Life” (Netflix): This racy adult-themed comedy drama about a suburban mom’s major midlife crisis returns for Season 2. Sarah Shahi stars.
“Spoonful of Sugar” (Shudder, AMC+): It helps the LSD go down in the most hallucinogenic way in this 2023 terror tale about a college student working as a nanny. With Morgan Saylor.
“The Flipping El Moussas” (HGTV, 8 p.m.): “Flip or Flop’s” Tarek El Moussa returns with a new wife/business partner and a new real estate-themed reality series.
“Omega: Gift and Curse” (WE, 10 p.m.): Get up close and personal with R&B singer and former B2K boy-band member Omarion in this intimate new docuseries.
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