“Private Practice” may finally be ready for prime time

Monday night, when Dallas was in the midst of what we consider an ice storm, my cable went out. Right before Chuck, no less. To get my mind off missing Sarah Walker, I decided to check out some shows online that I haven’t been watching — including Private Practice.

Much to my surprise, I quite liked it.

Last season, I gave Private Practice chance after chance to convince me it was worthy of my affection. Why? Two words: Kate Walsh.

I not only love Walsh, but I also loved her character, Dr. Addison Montgomery — at least I did when she was at Seattle Grace. But once she moved to L.A, for the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, Addison became a whiny, man-hungry wimp. About mid-season, I decided that I would rather not see Walsh at all than watch her being stupid. Even with lovelies Amy Brenneman, Audra McDonald and KaDee Strickland along for the ride.

This season, I watched once or twice and saw signs of improvement. Yet, when I forgot to watch, I didn’t miss it. I just didn’t care about the characters, attractive though they may be.

As it turns out, the characters are the key to why I enjoyed the episode “Know When to Fold.” The focus was on the main Private Practice players instead of their cases. For the first time since the series started, I believed that the doctors at Oceanside Wellness are smart and interesting — and have lives beyond the one hour per week we see. That makes the cases more interesting, too, with multi-dimensional doctors facing medical challenges together. I even saw why Addison might have wanted to join the practice in the first place. Perhaps the show has found its footing at last.

I’m certainly not going to choose Private Practice over Life on Wednesday nights. But in January, when the show moves to Thursday after Grey’s Anatomy, I think I’ll give it one more chance. It’s the least I can do for Kate.

Who’s with me? Are you watching Private Practice this season? If not, can the show win you back?