HOLLYWOOD—For anyone looking for a fascinating drama on television, now is the time to turn your attention to ABC’s “Private Practice.”  The series, created by “Grey’s Anatomy” alum Shonda Rhimes, follows a group of doctors with their own practice, their relationships and their ups and downs along the way. With “Private Practice” you feel a bit more drawn to the characters that aren’t always open books; the layers have to be peeled back. The series revolves around Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh), Pete (Tim Daly), Naomi (Audra McDonald), Cooper (Paul Adelstein), Charlotte (KaDee Strickland), Sam (Taye Diggs) and Violet (Amy Brenneman). Rhimes is known for pushing the envelope. In the second season cliff hanger, Violet is brutally attacked by a patient and had her baby stolen from her. The aftermath of the attack was stifling to say the least, as Violet had to acknowledge her horrible ordeal.

In season three, the constant back and forth between Addison, Sam and Pete came to an all-time climax as Addison chose Sam and their relationship slowly began to blossom. All of this happened in the midst of Naomi and Sam discovering their daughter, Maya, was pregnant. The viewers found out firsthand that Naomi was not at all happy about becoming a grandmother. Reality set in for the parents after both Maya and her unborn child nearly died in a car crash, and at that same moment, Sam found himself having to perform surgery on the man responsible for nearly killing his daughter. Talk about drama. Audiences were taken for a loop when Dell unexpectedly passed away from injuries he sustained during that accident.

Season four of the series is becoming a highlight of the television season.  When Rhimes does drama, she does it full force. The recent episode that depicted the aftermath of Charlotte’s rape at the hands of a crazed patient was debilitating. I was glued to my television screen watching the outcome of the events. With awards season around the corner, “Private Practice” already has several shoo-ins for nominations for Best Drama, Lead Actress, Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor, in my opinion. Kate Walsh was sensational in learning about Charlotte’s attack. The horror depicted in her eyes and her inability to communicate with others what really happened is heartbreaking. This is Walsh’s finest work to date, where all her emotions reach an all-time peak.

The same applies for KaDee Strickland as Charlotte. Her range with this character that hasn’t always been close with Addison is superb.  There is a scene between Charlotte and Addison right before Addison is about to conduct a rape-kit on Charlotte.  The scene is powerful.  Charlotte is shaking uncontrollably and Addison grabs hold of her hand to reassure her that she’s there to comfort her.  That’s only the beginning. The entire team rallies around Charlotte to provide the best possible care. This woman has endured a horrendous crime and Rhimes depicts the story with such a delicacy that it doesn’t overwhelm the viewer.

Cooper’s reaction to seeing his fiancé’s bruises is brutal. Many would expect a violent outburst, but all he can do is wallop and the emotion on his face when he first lays eyes on her is raw. I cringed while watchingCharlotte’s arm being stitched by Dr. Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone). Her inability to take anesthesia during the process only reinstated how difficult it would be for me to endure such pain, but Charlotte is a trooper. Seeing Violet and Cooper examine the destruction of Charlotte’s office only gives the viewer a slice of what happened in that room. Nicholas Brendon is creepy as her assailant and he sends chills down spines in an unforgettable performance.

Viewers, including myself, can only imagine what will happen during the rest of the season, but I’m sure this ordeal affects everyone in Charlotte’s inner circle. What impresses me about the series is its raw depiction and ability to allow the story to unfold without forcing it. The characters aren’t one dimensional; they don’t fall into a character type and everyone reacts differently to tragedy. Viewers that have tuned into the series are well aware that tragedy is something that unexpectedly occurs. We have to cope with it and move on. It’s never easy, but Rhimes knows how to progressively push the envelope to keep viewers tuned in. “Private Practice” is a drama that doesn’t always get the accolades it deserves, but I’m sure all that is about to change.