Pop Life: Gross 'Anatomy'

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God bless America -- what other civilization would give Patrick Dempsey another shot to rule as a sex symbol, twenty years after Meatballs III: Summer Job? His reign as Dr. McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy is proof that there's nothing we love more than giving Eighties celebs a heartwarming second stab at life. Hey, Jon Cryer -- you want a sitcom? Here you go! Aw, don't cry, Paula Abdul -- we didn't forget you. How would you like to judge a singing competition? You're so welcome! Who wants a hug? But, man, this is something special: Patrick Dempsey, the ultimate Eighties teen-movie geek, is the TV stud of the year, melting hearts in yet another goddamn hospital soap opera. This can only be good news for the guy who played Booger in Revenge of the Nerds.

It's kind of amazing how popular Grey's Anatomy is. What other show can boast such an annoyingly sincere cast of doctors, sniveling through such perfunctory love triangles? What other show has foisted so much shitty music on us? What other show has the cast beating the crap out of each other on the set? It's no surprise they can't stop the violence, when they're driven to the brink by a barrage of god-awful Nellie McKay and Ben Lee and Grant-Lee Phillips songs. Who would check into this hospital? Patients die all over the place, just to give the docs something else to get sensitive about. And Chris O'Donnell? What is this, St. Everybody Who's Ever Been Annoying Ever?

So why is it so huge? Easy: It takes everything medical about hospital shows and zaps it. These doctors learned their craft by watching Rick Springfield on General Hospital; they're pretty people who wear white coats so they can drip tears on them, and carry stethoscopes only so they can listen to their own heartbeats in sad, private moments. The dialogue might as well be "I'm so smurfy about your smurfendectomy." From the voice-overs to the whole McDreamy/McSteamy business, you have to really hate doctors to enjoy this show.

As for Dempsey, he was always great in flicks like Can't Buy Me Love, Happy Together and the insanely underrated Some Girls. But the Demp's finest achievement has to be Mobsters, where he played Meyer Lansky to Christian Slater's Lucky Luciano. (Bugsy Siegel? He was the dude from 21 Jump Street who wasn't Johnny Depp.) Dempsey did a note-perfect impression of Hyman Roth in The Godfather II, even more impressive when you realize the real-life Lansky didn't sound anything like that. Ever since Mobsters, I've been waiting for Dempsey to blow up big, but I never McDreamed he'd get this famous. Do you think he leaves late-night "Who's dreamy now, bitch?" voice-mails for Joey Lawrence or Andrew McCarthy? I hope so -- he's earned the right.

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