"I want you to stop changing your lives, okay? We've been conditioned to think that change is good and exciting, but what if it's not? What if it's actually very bad and very dangerous?" -Janitor"My Chief Concern," which was bumped from its regularly-scheduled timeslot last week in classic "Scrubs" fashion, almost plays like an alternate, preliminary version of the series finale. It's written by Bill Lawrence's longtime lieutenants Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan and directed by Zach Braff himself, and it focuses primarily on saying goodbye to the series' most important relationship: the undying bromance between J.D. and Turk. There's some more J.D./Turk farewell stuff in tomorrow's actual series finale, but considering how key this duo was to so much of the show's classic comedy (including the musical number that inspired this post's title), it felt right that they'd get an additional spotlight before the end.
When "My Cuz" aired a couple of weeks ago, we all wondered what the big deal was about a 37-minute commute, and "My Chief Concern" does a better job explaining why J.D. might feel compelled to take a job closer to his new apartment -- and why it would be a big deal in his friendship with Turk. They're not unattached 20somethings anymore. They have families and responsibility -- Turk especially, with a wife, one kid here and one on the way, and now the huge job of Chief of Surgery -- and if they're not working in the same place, the amount of time they'll see each other in a given week (or month, or year) plummets. Guys I used to work with, who I hung out with all the time, and who don't live that much further from me, now have to be scheduled in around playdates, bedtimes, family get-togethers, etc., etc., etc. And as Turk points out, it's only a 37-minute drive under optimal circumstances, and even then twice as long round trip for one or the other. It felt real -- not a great tragedy, but simply the way life moves on. The exact kind of change the Janitor fears is what happens to all of us if we're living our lives without our heads in the sand.
And even as J.D. and Turk's story was getting poignant, the rest of the episode brought plenty of marvelous comic moments, whether it was Elliot's disturbing sex fantasy ("but then it takes a left turn and I go on a killing spree"), Janitor playing father figure ("keep that anger growing, like an anger baby"), Kelso's own son becoming a full-fledged man whore, Ted horrifying everyone (including himself) with the mental image of him having sex(*), Turk's multiple ID badge photos, and Jimmy the Overly Touchy Orderly joining the Brain Trust and meeting his soul mate in The Todd.
(*) And, of course, the return of Gooch!, a character whom I feel needs an exclamation point next to her name, ala Jeffster!
Couple that with Elizabeth Banks getting to do something funny for the first time in forever as Kim, our first Denise sighting in a while(**), another fine musical montage choice in "Winter Song" by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, and the set up for Kelso's exit (he'll be traveling the country as a doctor with Locum Tenens), and you have a fine lead-in to the finale, which I liked a lot.
(**) Though I was confused about Cox needing to more or less introduce himself to Denise, as I can think of a few occasions where he led intern rounds and had conversations with her.
Tomorrow's Star-Ledger column will be a preview of the finale, including some more thoughts about whether I think the idea of continuing the show without Braff and others is a good idea, and I should have my finale blog review ready to post as soon as it ends.
What did everybody else think?