The first season of the American television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, began airing in the United States on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) on March 27, 2005 and concluded on May 22, 2005. The first season introduces the main character, Meredith Grey, as she enrolls in Seattle Grace Hospital's internship program and faces unexpected challenges and surprises. Season one had nine series regulars, four of whom have been part of the main cast ever since. The season initially served as a mid-season replacement for the legal drama Boston Legal, airing in the Sunday night time slot at 10:00, after Desperate Housewives. Although no clip shows have been produced for this season, the events that occur are recapped in "Straight to Heart", a clip-show which aired one week before the winter holiday hiatus of the second season ended. The season was officially released on DVD as two-disc Region 1 box set under the title of Grey's Anatomy: Season One on February 14, 2006 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
The series' protagonist and title character is Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), who is accepted into the residency program at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital. She joins the program as an intern and is assigned to work under their resident Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), along with fellow interns an extremely competitive Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), an insecure Dr. George O'Malley (T. R. Knight), ex model Dr. Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), and an arrogant Dr. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers). The surgical wing is primarily supervised by the Chief of Surgery Dr. Richard Webber (James Pickens, Jr.). Dr. Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington) is the head of Cardio surgery. Meredith is in a romantic relationship with her attending Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) a stranger she had a one-night stand with, and is the daughter of the renowned surgeon Ellis Grey (Kate Burton), who now suffers from Alzheimer's.
The season's reviews and critiques were hugely positive, and the series received several awards and nominations for the cast and crew including three nominations at the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Oh. The series also received three nominations at the Golden Globe Award with the series itself being nominated for Best Drama Series, Dempsey nominated for Best Actor in a Drama Series Oh winning the Best Supporting Actress while the entire cast was nominated in the Outstanding Cast – Drama Series category. Oh also won the Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series at the 12th Screen Actors Guild Awards. Chambers and Pompeo were nominated Choice TV Breakout Performances at the 2005 Teen Choice Awards. Peter Horton and Jeffrey Melman were also nominated for the Best Directing – Drama Series, Night for A Hard Day's Night and Into You Like a Train respectively at the 58th Directors Guild of America Awards.
The first five episodes of the second season were conceived, written and shot to air as the final five episodes of the first season, but aired during the 2005-2006 season due to the high number of viewers that watched "Who's Zoomin' Who?", the season's highest-rated episode with 22.22 million viewers tuning in. The series was chosen in the top ten for several 2005 "best of television" lists, including USA Today, San Jose Mercury News, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune
The series was created by Shonda Rhimes and was aired on the ABC Network in the U.S. The season was produced by Touchstone Television, currently ABC Studios, The Mark Gordon Company, ShondaLand Production Company, and was distributed by Buena Vista International, Inc.. The season's executive producers were Rhimes, Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon, James D. Parriott, Krista Vernoff, Rob Corn, and Mark Wilding. The staff writers were Rhimes, Parriott, Ann Hamilton, Vernoff, Kip Koenig, Mimi Schmir, Gabrielle Stanton, and Harry Werksman, Jr.. The directors throughout the season were Peter Horton, Tony Goldwyn, Adam Davidson. John David Coles, Scott Brazil, Darnell Martin, Sarah Pia Anderson, and Wendey Stanzler. Rhimes served as the season's show runner. She and Horton, who wrote and directed the first two episodes respectively, would also have written and directed the season's final two episodes, had they not been transferred into the second season.
The show was announced in late 2004 as a mid-season replacement for Boston Legal. It was originally scheduled to run in the Boston Legal time slot for just four weeks, but after receiving high ratings remained in the time slot for the remainder of the season. ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson commented on the scheduling decision: "Ultimately we decided that, without having adequate lead time or marketing dollars to devote to moving either show so late in the season, we'd continue to let 'Grey's' build on its tremendous momentum through May." Prior to broadcast, it was announced that the show's title would change from Grey's Anatomy to Complications, although ultimately this did not come to pass. Francie Calfo, executive vice president for development at ABC Entertainment, commented on the show's conception: "I think there was a need for this kind of show on our air, specifically a medical show. And Shonda found a twist on it that made it perfect for where we're at right now. Medical shows are hard, and it was hard trying to figure out where ours could be different. But where everybody else is speeding up their medical shows, she found a way to slow it down, so you get to know the characters. There's definitely a strong female appeal to it." Rhimes explained that she had found the idea of a show about smart women competing against one another an interesting one.
Nine actors had star billing in the show's first season. Series creator Shonda Rhimes wanted a diverse cast, and so created characters without pre-specified races. Determined not to have a show in which "all the extras are white, except the lone janitor", she has created what the New York Times have called "one of the most colorful backgrounds in television". Rhimes used a "blind-casting" technique, which resulted in several roles going to actors of different racial backgrounds than first envisioned. Isaiah Washington, eventually cast as Preston Burke, was originally considered for the role of Derek Shepherd, while Burke was initially to be played by a white actor who dropped out at the last moment. Chandra Wilson was cast in the role of Miranda Bailey, who Rhimes had imagined as a blonde until auditioning Wilson. The Campus have observed that the Grey's Anatomy cast is actually more diverse than the city it emulates, noting that Seattle is actually 70% Caucasian.
The nine characters who appear as series regulars in the first season all work in the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital. Five of the characters are interns: Meredith Grey portrayed by Ellen Pompeo, who is in a romantic relationship with her attending Derek Shepherd, and is the daughter of the renowned surgeon Ellis Grey, who now suffers from Alzheimer's; Cristina Yang portrayed by Sandra Oh, an extremely competitive intern who befriends Meredith and begins a sexual relationship with Preston Burke; Izzie Stevens portrayed by Katherine Heigl, an ex model who struggles to be recognized as a doctor; Alex Karev portrayed by Justin Chambers, an arrogant intern who initially irritates his colleagues, and George O'Malley portrayed by T.R. Knight, an insecure intern with a lack of confidence, who develops a crush on Meredith. The interns are mentored by their resident Miranda Bailey portrayed by Chandra Wilson, a disciplined woman who is nicknamed "The Nazi". The surgical program is led by the Chief of Surgery Dr. Richard Webber portrayed by James Pickens Jr.. In his employ are Preston Burke and Derek Shepherd from New York portrayed by Isaiah Washington and Patrick Dempsey respectively. Guest stars include Meredith's mother Ellis, portrayed by Kate Burton, nurse Olivia Harper, portrayed by Sarah Utterback, who serves as a love interest for George and Alex, and Derek's estranged wife Addison Montgomery, played by Kate Walsh.Ellen Pompeo as Dr. Meredith Grey
Sandra Oh as Dr. Cristina Yang
Katherine Heigl as Dr. Izzie Stevens
Justin Chambers as Dr. Alex Karev
T. R. Knight as Dr. George O'Malley
Chandra Wilson as Dr. Miranda Bailey
James Pickens Jr. as Dr. Richard Webber
Isaiah Washington as Dr. Preston Burke
Patrick Dempsey as Dr. Derek Shepard
The first season's ratings were consistently high, ranking first in its timeslot and leading its closest competition by 7.2 million viewers. It delivered ABC's best audience retention following Desperate Housewives, was the highest rated show amongst 18- to 49-year-olds in 13 years since The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and produced ABC's strongest series performance in the hour in more than four years. Commenting on the first season's high ratings, Magna Global USA media analyst Steve Sternberg stated: "Roughly 80 percent of households during prime time only have one TV set on. People are looking for shows they can watch with other household members. And just as Desperate Housewives reaches a broad audience - younger, older, male, female - so does Grey's Anatomy." The season finale was watched by 22.22 million viewers, and was ranked the ninth in viewership.
The first season of Grey's received mostly positive reviews from the critics. In regard to the first season, New York Daily News named Grey's Anatomy a "winner", whereas Newsday expressed a positive opinion by stating "You simply can't stop watching." Walter Chaw from Film Freak Central said the show was "so odious, so repugnant, that it's impossible not to have predicted its newly-minted role as the most popular program in the land." The Washington Post's Tom Shales was critical of the early series, finding it reminiscent of ER and commenting that: "The show is much more a matter of commercial calculation than an honest attempt to try something fresh and different". He called Rhimes' script for the pilot episode "nothing but a casserole made of equal parts ham and corn", writing that overall: "It's a 'new' show only in the sense that Dr. Frankenstein's monster was a new man." Kate Aurthur for The New York Times deemed the show a hybrid of Ally McBeal, Sex and the City and ER, writing of the news that it had become the highest-rated midseason drama in 12 years that: "When you parse its ratings, Grey's Anatomy underscores one of the real lessons of the current season - men will watch shows with a female lead. That goes against conventional wisdom, which dictates that it's easier to get women to watch shows aimed at men." Review Stream gave positive reviews regarding the pilot episode, "A Hard Day's Night", due to the undeniable chemistry between Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey from the series' first scene. Regarding Miranda Bailey's appearance in the pilot, ReviewStream.com stated "She's such a small woman but wait until she speaks". HomeTheaterInfo.com, however, had a mixed perspectives on the pilot, noting that the storylines were similar to fellow ABC series Desperate Housewives, but also "brilliantly written, extremely well acted and directed to near perfection". IGN gave a positive review stating, "The show isn't derivative, and actually maintains a tenuous edge over its predecessor, the characters resemble real people - who are fragile, and yes, fallible." and added, "this facile description does little justice to the show's tightly-wound plotting, character subtleties, or masterful acting, it speaks to the intangible nature of what differentiates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, in network television."
Sandra Oh won Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film at the 63rd Golden Globe Awards and Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series at the 12th Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2005, for her portrayal of Cristina Yang during Grey's Anatomy's first season. The season also resulted in a number of awards nominations: At the 2005 Directors Guild of America Awards, Peter Horton received a nomination for the Best Directing in a Drama Series, for his work on "A Hard Day's Night". He was nominated for the same award and episode at the 57th Primetime Emmy Awards, which also saw Grey's Anatomy nominated for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, and Oh was nominated Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Patrick Dempsey was nominated for Best Actor – Television Series Drama at the 63rd Golden Globe Awards, where the show was also nominated Best Television Series – Drama. The Producers Guild of America Awards in 2005 saw the season again nominated for Best Producer in a Drama Series, while that year's Satellite Awards saw the show nominated for Best Television Series – Drama, and Oh nominated for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. Dempsey was nominated for the Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series at the 12th Screen Actors Guild Awards, where the whole cast were also nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.
The number in the "No. in series" column refers to the episode's number within the overall series, whereas the number in the "No. in season" column refers to the episode's number within this particular season. "U.S. viewers in millions" refers to the number of Americans in millions who watched the episodes live. The first season's episodes are altogether 387 minutes in length.
Grey's Anatomy: Season One was released as a widescreen two-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the USA on February 14, 2006. It was distributed by Buena Vista. In addition to all the episodes that had aired, it included an alternate title sequence, audio commentaries, an extended pilot episode and a making-of featurette. The same set was released on October 11, 2006 in Region 2, featuring the planned fourteen episodes over three discs.
The first season was officially released on DVD in Region 1 on February 14, 2006, during the show's second season. Under the title Grey's Anatomy: Season One, the box set consists of episodes with Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and widescreen format. It also contained extras available only on DVD, including extended episodes, footage from behind the scenes, audio commentaries and unaired scenes cut from the aired episodes. The same set was released in Region 4 on April 26, 2006, almost three months after its original release in the United States, whereas its release date in Region 4 was October 11, 2006. The UK set contained the original fourteen episodes, being released as a three-disc boxset. The season has not been released on Blu-ray disc in any region. The DVD box set is currently no. 899 in Movies and TV on Amazon.com and no. 3452 in Film and TV on Amazon.co.uk.