Dear Shonda Rhimes: Lucky for us, you had a friend who moved here, gave you a reason to visit. Otherwise, you might not have discovered...

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Dear Shonda Rhimes: Lucky for us, you had a friend who moved here, gave you a reason to visit. Otherwise, you might not have discovered the energy of this place, might not have fallen in love with the architecture of the Space Needle and EMP. And then where would you have set “Grey’s Anatomy,” the show you created? A hospital called Phoenix Grace? Imagine McDreamy waxing rhapsodic about … what, that city’s magnificent malls?

No, you were smart to pick Seattle. You wanted a smallish place but a city big enough to boast a state-of-the-art medical facility. You toured via helicopter and dug the cityscape. You fell head-over-heels for the ferries (and made them McDreamy’s favorite). And you concluded that our (sometimes) fair city was the proper hometown for Meredith Grey. Quel grand.

Oh, obviously, you’re not the first TV creator to embrace a locale, fictional or otherwise (“Newhart”); to turn a metropolis into a recurring character (“Sex and the City”); to even set a show here (“Here Come the Brides,” “Dark Angel,” “Kyle XY”).

And in naming a specific place, you’ll always get the nitpickers: So where exactly is the real Chicago Hope?

But unlike “Frasier,” who had a Space Needle view from his downtown apartment, you’ve done several things right in capturing the city and who we are. We like all that aerial footage of our skyline in nearly every episode, for one thing. Yes, the coffee drinking’s a no-brainer. But major kudos for incorporating the Dead Baby Bikes race into an early storyline.

We’ve got characters

First, a word on some of the characters and, no, we’re not going to dwell on Meredith being too whiny.

We like bar owner Joe, in his flannel shirt. He looks like he’s from Ballard. But thanks for making him a working-class gay, for giving him partner Walter and for making them parents. (More on them this upcoming season, please.)

Joe and Walter and, most notably, Dr. Burke (Isaiah Washington) and Cristina (Sandra Oh) were also refreshing: mixed-race couples. Very Seattle, very appreciated and, well, it got some of us hooked on the show from the start.

We’re thinking still-an-intern George (T.R. Knight) and wife Dr. Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) — another mixed-race couple, which has got to be some sort of record for any show — won’t last. And if they don’t end up with kids, then you’ll have the quintessential childless Seattle couple in your mix.

The little things

Like the best sense-of-place shows (“Seinfeld”), few details have been overlooked: the Seattle sports memorabilia, a photo of the Fremont troll on the walls of Joe’s Emerald City Bar, the Native prints, assorted Seattle periodicals, even a Duke’s Chowder House menu in Seattle Grace Hospital.

The KOMO-TV helipad standing in for the hospital’s works well. Choosing a real Queen Anne Hill house for Grey’s home (in the March 2005 midseason pilot) was also a nice touch.

And, of course, there was the decision to bring the production up here last year, shooting outside the Westin and then out in North Bend for the guys’ camping, fishing and bonding trip to the woods. (Was that Filson outdoorwear on Burke?) We haven’t forgotten the ferry tragedy. Sure, the images of the smoldering ferry looked fake. But the uncharismatic Alaskan Way Viaduct never looked so good.

Yes, the naysayers have howled: Why not a real Seattle hospital (not the Los Angeles-area V.A. one)? And where exactly is Seattle Grace? On the lot — given the Space Needle view — where Frasier Crane once lived?

And what about the weather? Not nearly enough rain. Where exactly would Patrick Dempsey’s Derek Shepherd be living, in that trailer? All the way in Enumclaw?! And if Meredith lives on Queen Anne, why did she drive north to work?

Slip in Seattle

So to fill the void left from the departure of two major characters (Washington’s Burke and Kate Walsh’s Addison), why not make even more of Seattle this season (which starts tonight)? No need to schlep the production up here (although not many people would likely complain). And just think of the additional gorgeous visuals you could snag: Dr. Bailey, say, spending some time with her son in the Olympic Sculpture Park. Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) and Cristina licking their wounds shoe shopping at Ped. McSteamy working out at Zum.

You once told us Izzie (Katherine Heigl) was from Chehalis (nice). So more place dropping would be simple enough, and it wouldn’t cost you a cent. The newest character Lexie Grey, say, making some reference to going out in Fremont. Or riding the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Better yet, why not make her a bike commuter? We’re theorizing, just because he looks the type, that Dr. Karev (Justin Chambers) is already riding a motorcycle to work.

Here’s a thought: Since you already used Dead Baby Bikes, find a way to incorporate something, anything, that makes reference to riding the S.L.U.T.

Florangela Davila: 206-464-2916 or fdavila@seattletimes.com