Friday, March 09, 2007

Scrubs & 30 Rock: She's the decider!

Spoilers for NBC's two original comedies last night coming up just as soon as I get this blue ink off my hands...

While I'm still worried about the state of "Scrubs," this was the best episode they've done in quite some time, a nice mix of wacky comedy that actually worked and some pathos that felt earned because Private Dancer had been around for a while. Highlights: Cox going meta to explain everyone's comic function on the show (Ted's sad sack sigh made me laugh every time he did it), the Rashomon flashbacks to J.D. and Turk's college days (scored, I'm assuming, to a Kid N Play song), the revelation about the goldfish's name and Kelso's time in 'Nam, and (on a more serious level) the kiss between Elliott and Dancer. I'm not sure Sarah Chalke's ever looked prettier than she did in that moment, but what's Dudemeister going to say if he finds out his girlfriend is macking on random soldier boys?

"30 Rock" goes into its Andy Richter-induced hiatus with another terrific episode, featuring Tina Fey's best performance to date, completely insane and yet sympathetic because she knew how insane and awful she had become. Tracy's Scientology interview was awesome ("I believe vampires are the best golf players in the world and that their curse is that they'll never get to show it!"), and Nathan Lane underplayed nicely as Jack's brother. Molly Shannon always plays a good drunk, and nice to see Siobhan Fallon come out of mothballs to play another Donaghy sib. (Question: would it have been more or less distracting if Daniel, Stephen or Billy had played one of the siblings?)

What did everybody else think? If you could name your fists, what would those names be? And are you going to give "Andy Barker" a try or boycott it because it's temporarily taking this spot?

25 comments:

Brian said...

Why are you worried about "Scrubs"? I'll admit, I haven't been keeping up with it, because of various reasons, but when I do watch, I like it. Not every episode hits it out of the park, but when the producers are doing something different, they deserve a larger margin of error.

As for "30 Rock," I am behind on that also, but I'm glad it's just getting better and better. It showed lots of promise back in the fall.

"Andy Barker" had some good early buzz, at least from USA Today's Robert Bianco. I'd be willing to give it a shot, if for no other reason than maybe, just maybe, it could spark and start a fire under the ass of the entire Thursday night NBC lineup.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I just think Scrubs has been in a slump all season. This is the most I've laughed at the show in a while.

Also, apparently Liz Lemler was played by Anna "My Girl" Chlumsky. Who knew?

dez said...

I'll be checking out Andy's new show because I loved "Andy Richter Controls the Universe."

"Scrubs" was awesome. I loved Pvt. Dancer (hee) calling out J.D.'s impression of black people as racist. Did Elliott kiss him because she was attracted to him, or because she wanted to make him feel better, or both?

"30 Rock" was hilarious, especially when Jack was telling Liz how grade school she was being and she realized it and put her head on his desk. Also loved the three different pronunciations of "Donaghy."

Kristin said...

What? Alan, I thought this was a terrible episode of "Scrubs." It seemed like someone else had written the episode or something. Everyone was crowded in Pvt. Dancer's room the whole time. Pvt. Dancer is probably the worst actor on there in quite awhile. And then that weird kiss with him and Elliot at the end? It made no sense.

Also, the running bit with Carla not being able to be funny? Wasn't really that funny.

Hardly any in-head commentary by J.D., so it felt very quiet and weird.

All of the revealing seemed very forced, the emphasis on everyone being honest with each other was bizarre. Really bad one for me.

And did anyone else notice that Cox was completely bald last week and had a head full of hair this week? Are they showing these out of order? Did they think no one would notice??

The only funny part was the running gag with the wimpy lawyer getting spilled on throughout.

Undercover Black Man said...

Just a so-so episode of "30 Rock" for me... can't put my finger on why.

There was nothing truly fun, funny or interesting about the Donaghy sibs. And I'm a Molly Shannon fan.

Although I did love the line: "You call those fist names?"

Bobman said...

Oh God, every bit with Ted had me cracking up on Scrubs last night. Everything that happened to him was silly and predictable, but I still died laughing.

I think Scrubs has been kind of hit or miss this season, but not "in a slump" so much. This episode was definitely one of the highs.

Jon Delfin said...

Partly agreeing with Kristin -- but some of what she dislikes is some of what I liked. The show reminded me of the first season, when there was one foot in reality.

Cat Pick said...

I'm never sure whether I like Scrubs or not, even when it makes me laugh. What I do know is that Michael Weston (Pvt. Dancer) is indelibly burned into my mind as David's brutal attacker from Six Feet Under. It makes me very disconcerted to see him in anything now, thus making it really difficult to be sympathetic to Pvt. Dancer. I wanted to scream "Run, Elliot, run!" when she was outside alone with him.

R.A. Porter said...

The wife and I ha-ha-ha-ha-ted this week's Scrubs. I thought the B-story with Janitor was great, and Ted was hilarious, but *man* did that A-story drag. I thought Cox going meta would have been funnier a year or so ago; now, it just felt forced in, like they'd run out of material in the writers' room. I've really enjoyed Pvt. Dancer as a character and disagree with Kristin about his performance (plus, he was great on Psych a few weeks back), but this episode was just so weak that he had to anchor everyone else.

As for 30 Rock...genius as usual. I'll miss it for Andy Richter's run, but I have very high hopes for his new show. NBC's got all six episodes up, for those who want to get a taste early. I'd do that this weekend, but I'll be in bball overload.

Kristin said...

I think I am a harsher critic of "Scrubs" this season, because I've been rewatching a lot of the old shows, and they were just so much better, so much funnier. More outrageous, more running jokes that were truly funny, lots of crazy head-talk.

Ah, I miss the old days...

Clifton Smalls said...

I, too, am surprised by the positive reaction last night's Scrubs is receiving. I thought the show had regained some momentum after Kim left (not that her plot was necessarily the reason for the show's 'slump'), but 'My Fishbowl' was as weak a Scrubs episode as I can remember. I haven't cared for the lengthy patient stays (see, season five's old woman that was the nicest person in the world), but this episode in particular, with Janitor holding a bowl for hours and only the entire main cast having a personal relationship with Dancer, was noticeably weak.

I love 30 Rock, but last night's episode didn't work for me either. There were some great lines, to be sure (the fists, in particular), but it wasn't one of their best efforts.

Marsha said...

Yes, I'll be giving Andy Barker a try because Jane Espenson, who I adore, is associated with it. (BTW - those who like this blog should read hers at www.janeespenson.com.)

Anonymous said...

I think Andy Barker has gotten mixed reviews, but I'll probably check it out since so little is on now and because I loved Andy Richter's last show.

Scrubs just isn't funny to me anymore. I used to think Dr. Cox was hysterical, but now I just find his rants annoying. Same with all of J.D.'s little quirks. They need to stick a fork in this one. Also, I agree Sarah Chalke looked amazing last night. Which was kind of distracting since she was supposed to be talking about how she was an outsider growing up.

I LOVED this week's 30 Rock. "The decider" and "staying the course" were great little jabs at Bush and I loved Tracy's Scientology interview. I was also cracking up over Tina Fey's delivery of the line about other Liz hiding the fact that she was in the Rutgers marching band. And it was good to see Anna Chlumsky as other-Liz, but I'm disappointed they made Molly Shannon one of Jack's siblings. I wish they'd saved her for a bigger role later on.

Joel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel said...

I thought Scrubs had been picking up the pace over the last few weeks, too; even the parts of last week's clip show that weren't clips were pretty funny.

But this episode felt more like the first half of the season; forced humor and characterizations that were a bit "off." Carla had a penchant for bad one-liners, but not as bad as the ones she was saying in this episode, and Cox' rant about what makes everyone funny felt less like a meta-joke and more like "new viewers, here's what makes all the show's characters funny." Though I did like Ted and the Rashomon flashbacks by Turk and JD.

I agree that Sarah Chalke was the standout here, both during her suicide monologue and during the final scene, when she kissed Pvt. Dancer. That smile on her face was so soothing and pretty it made me smile, too.

30 Rock was hilarious. And for once, Tina Fey was actually the shining star of an episode, instead of Alec Baldwin. Baldwin was good, don't get me wrong, but Fey's manic, self-conscious nuttiness was funny and well-acted. And it was refreshing to see Nathan Lane guest on a sitcom and not completely take it over, like he usually does.

J said...

30 Rock had enough going on that I thought it could have been a longer episode... especially when you throw in notorious overactors like Shannon, Lane (eating the dog food - nice), etc.

And a "Tracy Jordan does Scientology" ep might have been up there with "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" or "Trapped in the Closet."

But Fey doesn't work for me when she goes big. They were smart in farming out the slapstick they had her doing at the start of the run to Krakowski; they should keep the crazy for Morgan.

Before they went for a close up, I thought Fallon was Meredith from The Office. Not that all Irish redheads look alike...

R.A. mentioned it upthread, but here's the link to the streaming eps of Richter's new show. I guess it's safe to go out on Thursdays, again.

bill p said...

Joke-per-joke, maybe not as strong as the Source Awards episode last week, but loved the description of Kabbalah: "the best parts of Judaism, plus magic!"

Also, for those in NYC, I loved that Kenneth's church was in Margon's basement. Best Cuban sandwich in the city, I think.

Blankity-Blank said...

More proof that a pretty girl will make you ignore everything else, no matter how terrible. Because that's the only way to describe Sarah Chalke's suddenly inconsistent portrayal of Elliot last night. That serious voice she was doing (sometimes) felt like a joke whose punchline never came.

And while I think any real Baldwin cast as a Doneghy would have been somewhat distracting, it wouldn't have been moreso than the clash created by Siobhan Fallon's unmistakeable Midwestern accent and the rest of the Doneghys' New York ones. I guess she was raised by extended family.

Edward Copeland said...

Scrubs has really been disappointing me this season. Aside from the episode focusing on Ken Jenkins, I haven't found much to like. I even thought the musical episode was laughing and when they did a clip show, I really started to get worried. I wish My Name Is Earl would get some new episodes back on. I've been amazed at how that show, which I felt would burn out quickly, has managed to become more inventive and entertaining as it's gone on.

Bob said...

30 Rock: OK, I don't mean to be a PC wet blanket, but the Irish stereotyping was so thick and crude it was just ridiculous. There's funny in the shadow of stereotype (30 Rock & Wayne Brady last week), there's making fun *of* the type ("fist names" was genius), and then there's just lazy and offensive (Drink. Fight. Repeat.). This felt like something slapped together during a 30-sec Black Donnellys promo. When can we expect the episode where the Jewish family comes to blows over a dropped quarter? (Not that I'd like that either.) At least when Scrubs does black jokes they call themselves on it.

Scrubs: meh-minus. Cox's hair switch: yeah, pretty distracting. Elliot's kiss: unmotivated, unprofessional, and unclear. Janitor's Mr. Limpet sequence: coulda been a good tie-in to the squirrels, but dragged on.
Carla thinks she's funny but really isn't: I kept waiting for this to be attributed to the antidepressants and make sense; otherwise, it just came out of nowhere and went nowhere.

I've been trying to forget Michael Weston's Six Feet Under creepiness, too, but his delivery keeps pulling me back to that van. Seems like either a bad choice or a lack of range.

Between last week's clip show and this week's one mainly stuck at Pvt. Dancer's room and the dorm room, it seems like they're in a low-budget streak. Not that I minded the clip show, since it's inspiring me to rent previous seasons, but I wonder whether this was a renewal-hedging tactic.

Blankity-Blank said...

Wow. The clip show inspired you to rent previous seasons? It made me think I really have been an idiot to have laughed at anything they've ever done. I don't like the idea of retroactively not liking a show I used to love, but that episode made it difficult.

Ted F. said...

Scrubs has been awful this season. I fast-forwarded through the clip show because I had the same reaction as blankity. And this episode was weak, too. All the back-story felt forced: why does JD suddenly care about the water-balloon incident, when he laughed it off in seasons past? (Though the Rashomon aspect was funny. And Ted is always great.)

I'm looking forward to Andy Barker because (1) Andy Richter, and (2) Buster Bluth. But I'll miss 30 Rock.

Tobey said...

I haven't looked forward to a sitcom so much since I taped Seinfeld every Thursday in high school. 30 Rock is genius.

And my fist names are Billy Connolly and Howard Hesseman.

J said...

Those are great fist names, Tobey. Much better than mine.

It also sucks having to keep "Colmes" tied behind my back.

Zodin2008 said...

I have zero interest in "Andy Barker" because I find Andy Richter completely unfunny. I don't understand why this guy keeps getting a show?

"30 Rock", you will be missed.