Since I actually watched -- and enjoyed -- all three Thursday medical dramas on the same night in the first time since forever, it's time for a stethoscope-themed blog post. Spoilers for, in order, "ER," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scrubs" coming up just as soon as I swab a camel...
After having some fun with all those disaster episodes of "ER" yesterday, not to mention the chaotic-sounding 300 patients premise, the 300th episode turned out to be a fairly low-key affair. I'm actually happy with that; while people tend to remember the episodes with the pyrotechnics and the weeping, one of the things I've always admired about "ER," in good times and bad, is how it can be so buttoned-down when it wants to be. I think of episodes like Doug and Mark's road trip to bury Doug's dad, or the ER staff preparing for the paramedic's death in "The Healers," or even Abby's black-out sex with Moretti a few weeks ago, and think about how a lot of other series (including a certain other Thursday medical drama to be discussed later) would try to underline all the emotions for the audience with sweeping music, teary-eyed close-ups and whatnot. I'm not saying "ER" isn't often guilty of going over-the-top, but when they tighten up, it often turns out to be more affecting.
There were tears in both the resolution of the Down's syndrome story and Luka/Abby, but they felt real and earned. (And the Luka scene was made far more uncomfortable -- and fascinating -- by our knowledge of what Abby was refusing to tell him even as he tried to take all the blame on himself.) The moment when Abby called out Neela about Ray, meanwhile, stung precisely because there weren't a lot of fireworks in the scene; the casual coldness is what made it seem so painful. I'm not wild about the chaplain character, but the tribute to the patients the ER lost in the last year was also a nice, understated tribute to the series as a whole which has killed off a lot of doctors and patients.
And I want to say a word about Scott Grimes, who I couldn't stand when Morris was introduced (at the time, I was surprised they dumped Coop and kept Morris) and now find delightful. His reaction to the arrival of the food poisoning patients was among the funniest non-"30 Rock" things I saw last night. The key difference, I think, between when Morris first appeared and now is that he's at least semi-competent. If the guy's an obnoxious clown and also a terrible doctor, then I spend all my time thinking about how the writers are contriving to keep their comic relief character on the show. By making Morris a vaguely good doctor, and by occasionally providing serious glimpses into his personality (like the conversation with Lowell about being abandoned by his own father), I feel freer to laugh at him when he's acting the buffoon.
I remain baffled about ABC's scheduling decision with this "Grey's Anatomy" two-parter. Thanksgiving night generally has a lower audience than a regular Thursday, so why air part one on turkey night, then air a rerun, then put this one on a week after that? ABC has a weird history of doing this (I remember them interrupting an intense "NYPD Blue" two-parter with a Barbara Walters special in between), and it never makes sense to me.
While parts of "Crash Into You" part two were just as strong as in part one -- Bailey's marriage falling apart while George played messenger, anything with Lexie and Seth Green, Karev telling off Ava, Meredith telling Dr. Hahn to shut up (a rare instance where Meredith was justified in telling anyone to shut up, whereas there are so many instances when others are justified in telling her to) -- more of the parts of "Grey's" that I dislike creeped into this one.
Remember that "Scrubs" scene where Dr. Cox rattles off a list of all the things he cares about more than his final week with J.D. as a resident? That's basically how I feel about the state of Meredith and McDreamy at this point. Now it's just getting stupid, the attempts to keep them apart, and Dempsey has zero chemistry with the computer geek nurse. Zero. I'm glad that Shonda continues her "Okay, so maybe Izzie and George are a mistake" theme, but if it's now as obvious to the characters and their creator as it is to us poor, frustrated viewers, why can't they just break up already? Why must we now spend as much time with them angsting about their incompatibility as we did with them angsting about whether George should break up his marriage for his One, True, Perfect Love?
Finally, "Scrubs" gets back in the groove with its best episode of the season, and better than almost anything I can remember from last year. The pathos was just right on Elliot's ALS plot (and helped by the occasional absurd touch like the patient's home care nurse "flying"), J.D. was credible in the scenes where he was required to act human, and the one-upsmanship and Janitor dating stories were both very funny at the same time they were providing some insight into the characters. The only real disappointment is that TheToddTime.com is much less elaborate than The Todd promised; no Tranny-Todd feature anywhere. But if they can be this entertaining and well-rounded going forward, I'm going to be a lot sadder when the episodes run out.
What did everybody else think?