Friday, April 18, 2008

Scrubs & Earl: Quien es mas macho?

Some brief, interconnected thoughts on "Scrubs" and "My Name Is Earl" coming up just as soon as I shave a kangaroo...

Both shows have been so disappointing of late -- particularly "Earl," where the coma sitcom fantasy may be the single worst idea they've ever had -- that they've been reduced to watch-while-multi-tasking status. But even though I didn't pay as much attention to either one as I did to, say, last night's brilliant episodes of "The Office" and "Survivor," I felt both were improved over what they've been doing lately.

Specifically, while the "My Name Is Earl" writers still have Earl in a coma, this episode was 100% sitcom fantasy-free, which allowed them to take advantage of the biggest plus to the coma scenario: the good, boring version of Earl is in a coma, so we get more of the bad, funny version in flashback. Plus, this was maybe the best they've ever used Beau Bridges as Earl's dad. The sequence in the motel room (and kudos to Michael Pena for finding a slightly new way to play the cliche of the eccentric drug dealer) where Mr. Hickey had to deal with being frisked and being confronted with everything he hates (ambiguous sexuality, drugs, exotic animals kept in small spaces) was really well done, as was the montage of dad going through his humdrum life with more pep in his step, cut to the theme from "Superfly."

"Scrubs," meanwhile, got back to the Kelso forced retirement story they brought up right before the strike and had all of the characters behaving more or less in character and as recognizable humans. (We all know this has been a big problem with JD in recent seasons.) The Turk/JD friendship is almost always funny, but this was the first time in a while (and that includes the "We should be more grown-up now that we have kids" episode) where I felt like both were on equal footing as three-dimensional characters.

Also, "there's some truth to" Janitor's name being Josh? What the?

What did everybody else think?

6 comments:

That First Andrew said...

How about Pena calling Beau "Jeff's Little Brother" Bridges "Lebowski"? I had to pause the show after that one.

I love the non-sequitor/completely straight line readings of utterly rediculous things on Earl. That has always been a secret weapon for the writers, like Crabman knowing Earl wanted weed because that's what they want whenever white people come up to him and start whispering, or Earl's dad can't be a cop because he tucks his shirt into his underwear.

It is those little absurdities that keep me coming back every week, Good Earl or Bad.

LA said...

I was quite pleased with Scrubs. Any episode with Janitor plotline is going to entertain, and My Manhood delivered. I felt a little of the old magic back.

Kalman said...

I abandoned Earl in prison last season after a couple of early, intolerable episodes, but in the spirit of forgiveness, gave it another shot this year. After last week's bummer, I was about to bail again, but this episode was actually . . . funny. The whole "mom gets completely mental after sniffing a bit of second hand pot smoke" was pure sitcom hackery, but Beau Bridges cleverly found a way to bring some freshness to the worn ultra-square dad thing and Michael Pena's drug dealer was nothing but hilarious. Some good throwaway lines (Earl warning about drug-damaged brain cells before noting "liquor only hurts your liver, and you have two of those") At the very least, Earl this week earned itself the right to stay in my Thursday schedule for at least another week.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more about doing other things while watching Earl. The past couple of weeks I've been in the kitchen cleaning, not caring if I can't see or hear the set at all times.

Anonymous said...

Personally, watching all of 'Earl's' Scientologists make fun of poor rural Americans has just, well, lost its lustre. Not so funny no more.

Tracey said...

I'm surprised that nobody has commented on my favorite bit in this episode: when Earl's parents find out for the first time that Earl is in a coma! It just doesn't make sense that Joy and Darnell would be at Earl's bedside while Earl's parents weren't, and the idea that Randy was just too airheaded to mention it to them, even though Randy was still having dinner at their house regularly, made me laugh out loud.