Karen Neal/ABC
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October 30, 2009 at 04:00 PM EDT

Look, I like Grey’s Anatomy, I really do. And that is why I can say this with love: The all-medical, all-the-time episodes need to stop. I appreciate Derek getting some spotlight time, but I’d like it to shed some more light on his character, not just on his surgeries. In this case, though, he was just walking us through ER territory yet again. And for the record, I think ER did a great job with its medical cases; however, I do not watch Grey’s Anatomy to get my ER fix. I watch it to see hot doctors make out in the on-call room and preposterously talk about their personal lives over their surgeries and banter at lunch and make life-changing romantic decisions based on metaphorical lessons learned from their patients. Absolutely zero of that happened here, and very little has happened in the last few episodes, save that one amazing one two weeks ago.

That said, Derek was facing a spinal cord tumor. An inoperable one. Which would seem more momentous if I hadn’t seen him deal with inoperable tumors before — Izzie’s, for one. Yes, there was a lot of build-up of this one as the ”perfect tumor.” The patient — who happened to be this lovely lab tech named Isaac — should not have been walking, should have been dead, etc. He came to work at Seattle Grace just because of Derek and his reputation. What reputation is that, you ask? That would be the one for constantly operating on inoperable tumors. Awesome for him, kinda getting boring for us, sorry to say. I know it was awesome for him because Cristina actually said, ”It’s awesome, look.” Bailey called it ”the Great White of tumors.” They can call it whatever they want; that doesn’t make this plot as gripping to me as a viewer as it obviously would to a real person in this actual situation.

I got a momentary jolt of vague personal-life interest when Alex grumbled that Reed’s ass was in his way when she was stretching in the locker room — did I detect simmering future sexual tension between these at-odds docs? He was wondering if Izzie would show up back at the hospital for her next treatment, which would’ve been more intriguing if I actually thought she might. (But since Katherine Heigl’s on personal leave, we knew she wouldn’t.)

And then it was back to the one and only medical case of the night (another problem, focusing on just one surgery when it isn’t absolutely mind-blowing). The Chief, being Mr. Fussy Penny Pincher that he is now, said Derek couldn’t operate. Guess what that meant! Why, yes, of course, Derek scheduled surgery anyway! And of course Dr. McHotness Monster — a.k.a. Jackson — got the surgery over Cristina after a tryout in which the docs had to show who could get the closest to dotting George Washington on the nose on a dollar bill with a pen while looking through that surgery-scope thing. See, here’s how this could’ve gone old-school Grey’s: Cristina could’ve been trying to get things right with Hunt but missing the mark. Derek could’ve been struggling to endure through a personal crisis, which would’ve made it all the more resonant when Isaac said to him, ”There’s always a way to survive.” (I know I haven’t fleshed those suggested story lines out much; just saying, I miss those days when it all tied together more.)

Instead, Cristina, um, briefly talked to Hunt about how she would like to be part of the tumor surgery because she was, essentially, envious that Lexie got to be in the so-long-and-intense procedure that she’d actually fashioned a diaper so she wouldn’t need breaks. ”I want to have to pee in a diaper.” Amusing? Yes. Sexy talk for the once-hot couple? No. And why does she even need to explain this to Dr. Badass himself? Meanwhile, Alex, and Reed also clashed some more — which on TV is all the more evidence of a forthcoming romantic spark — over the fact that Reed used to call Izzie ”cancer wife.” (How this emotion-shunning woman isn’t already best friends with Meredith and Cristina, I don’t know.)

NEXT: Badassery abounds

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Meredith. Alex. Bailey. Arizona. The doctors are definitely in on Shonda Rhimes’ hospital melodrama.
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