Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Scrubs, "My Chief Concern": A surgeon and a doc, above it all

Spoilers for the penultimate episode of "Scrubs" coming up just as soon as I stop for blueberries...
"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?

19 comments:

David said...

Minus the 5 minute intrusion by the weather guy (to basically say nothing was going on besides rain), I really enjoyed this episode. Everything clicked. I'm going to miss this show, but I do believe it's time to say good-bye.

Cameron Hughes said...

Alan,

Are you going to do a best and worst column like you did with ER?

Omagus said...

I agree with David. Love it but it's time to move on (theme of the episode).

I do wish that the new interns would have been introduced maybe last season so that they could have been fleshed out more but that's a relatively minor quibble.

jcpdiesel21 said...

Dr. Mantoots, hee. I'm with J.D. and Turk, that's hilarious.

I loved that Turk's first I.D. card picture had him wearing the special chief of surgery hat that Janitor designed for him.

A2A Addict said...

This episode was definitely needed.
Puts everything in perspective and sets up for a memorable finale (hopefully).

I am still sad though.

Jordan said...

I'm really gonna miss this show, but I'm glad that they are (maybe) going out with such an enjoyable victory lap.

dez said...

What A2A Addict said. Plus I'll add a Jordan-like "Outstanding!" :-)

Pamela Jaye said...

Happy Sad Good Ep (still don't know why Elliot is teaching the interns or whatever)
I missed whether Elliot moved too - she already owns a house.

My roomie was mad I FF'ed thru the previews, but I want to see it intact.

They can spin off if they want to. It will be a doctor show and I'll watch, it just won't be Scrubs.

Pamela Jaye said...

oh yeah - best of? worst of? you hardly have time, but reminiscing is fun.

Scrubs has moved so much just this year, I don't even know what day it is.

Matt said...

I would gladly watch a show centered just around Gooch(!).

Henry said...

I must have replayed the DVR at least six times and laughed every time at Dr. Cox's delight over JD's announcement to leave. His attempted (and failed) standing backflip had me in repeated fits of laughter.

Or Jimmy The Overly Touchy Orderly (whom I can only think of now as the Guy Who Knocked Up Cobie Smulders for some reason) overly touching The Todd.

Loved Gooch!'s song at the end and how it actually kinda cheered up Janitor, too. At least, it looked like Janitor was amused. Maybe he was just mildly irked.

LA said...

Lovely episode, didn't want it to end. I'm excited for the finale.

Anonymous said...

How about a short run of "Legal Custodians" next year with Ted and Janitor?

Anonymous said...

This episode was great. It had a great balance of real life things and nutty jokes.

Whatever happens, I do hope we'd get to see a little dance number before the show (might) end.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No time to do another best-of list -- as I half-joke about in today's column, I've written several "Farewell to Scrubs" columns already -- but you can go read the Top 10 list I wrote at the start of last season. To that, I'd definitely add this season's "My Last Words" and possibly "My Lawyer's In Love," and maybe the finale.

Jordan said...

So a guess this means we'll never get back to his porch.

timburns said...

I loved it and I am one of the minority of voices who feels the show could continue next year, sans Zack (as he pulls his David Caruso...he'll be back to TV soon). Go forward with the interns people and give me that hospital with the pudding

Anonymous said...

More worthless peons, less Gooch the annoying ukelele player. Worth it for Todd's comment on the subject of ukeleles.

JoyLife Locum Tenens said...

Odd that Kelso, as an older doc, would choose to go the Locum Tenens route. This is generally a path of younger docs with higher levels of energy. I get it within the context of the show, but an unusual choice.