Spoilers for the first two episodes of the new season/version of "Scrubs" coming up just as soon as I do the Dikembe Mutombo finger wag (and then remind you of Dikembe's greatest gift to the comedy gods)...
I talked a lot about my feelings about this new season of the show - and whether it should, in fact, be considered a new series - in yesterday's column, so go read that if you didn't already, and then we'll go straight to the bullet points with some additional thoughts on these two episodes:
• We learn early on that a year has passed since "My Finale," which gives the writers license to do lots of things: relocate the hospital (a practical move done to put it on the studio lot with "Cougar Town" so Bill Lawrence can run both shows), say goodbye to The Janitor, have Kelso finish his time with Locum Tenens (and bump off his oft-discussed, never-seen wife), make Denise a third-year resident with a bit more authority over the med students, make it seem like JD didn't immediately come back to his old stomping grounds, and make Elliot pregnant. And speaking of which...
• When I interviewed Bill Lawrence about the new season back in August, he mentioned Sarah Chalke's pregnancy so casually that I assumed it was a piece of news that was already out there in the world. (I pay very little attention to the personal lives of celebrities.) So I included that quote as part of the interview transcript - at which point one of the commenters pointed out that this was the first public mention of said pregnancy. Mortified at having accidentally become That Guy, I quickly deleted that portion of the transcript and the comments referring to it, but nothing's ever really gone from the Internet, and within a few days, Chalke's PR team had announced the pregnancy themselves. I'm hoping that was the timetable all along, but if I somehow played a role in that, I feel bad. To anyone in the Chalke camp who may be reading this, I'm sorry. I didn't know! It's all Bill's fault!
• As I said in the column, I could have done without continuing the voiceover tradition with a new character, but I do like Kerry Bishe as Lucy, since she makes a nice professional foil for both Dr. Cox and JD, and Michael Mosley as Drew, since he makes a nice romantic foil for Denise, while also seeming very much like a young Perry Cox. As Cole, Dave Franco seems a little one-note so far, and I can't decide whether I want them to do the inevitable episode revealing that he has hidden depths, or to avoid that trope, leave him as a complete tool, and then send him off wherever Ed went after Cox fired him last season.
• Expanding on my issues with bringing JD back, I think it might have worked if they had committed to the growth we saw over that final season - if, having heard Cox's speech about him to Sunny in "My Finale," he stopped being so needy for the guy's affection and could more comfortably treat him as an equal. John C. McGinley has plenty of opportunities to do slow burns in response to the med students without needing JD being a pain on top of that. The JD moments that worked best were either JD mentoring Lucy, JD cracking jokes with Turk (notably the song about Denise in "Our Drunk Friend"), and the moment in "Our First Day of School" where we realize that Cox and JD are only pretending to not understand the Aussie supermodel type because it amuses them to do so. I would have been fine with Braff's part-time return if he were allowed to play a JD who seems like an adult, who can finally treat Perry Cox as a colleague and not be so smarmy with the students, but still has his silly jokes with Turk. That would have been a nice transition for the newbies. Instead, we're just going back over old ground, and even the reprise of "Guy Love" didn't make me smile as much I as thought it would.
• Not all Turk/JD running gags feel played-out, however. I never tire of glimpses of them in college with their various awful hairstyles, this time riding a tandem bike in the middle of an otherwise raunchy party.
• I thought the revamped theme song (by WAZ, who's also the composer for "Cougar Town") and opening titles worked, though I wonder if they shot an alternate version for the episodes that won't be featuring Braff.
• Note that the affiliated college/med school is named after Lawrence's longtime producing sidekick Randall Winston, who played the hook-handed security guard on the show, and who has previously lent his name to the mayor on "Spin City" and the Janitor's crotch-punching little sidekick.
• Of all the brief appearances from old friends, my favorite may have been the moment where we're reminded of The Todd's psychic powers when it comes to people having sex in and around the hospital. But I don't want to give short shrift to Ken Jenkins, still a master at jarring shifts between vicious comedy and real pathos. Of course Bob Kelso would feel bad about Enid's death, even as he'd be back at work two days later. And of course Bob Kelso would be prepared to hit that with Cole's mom "like a big rig with no brakes."
• Like Turk, I would also watch a show about Fonzie and a Gremlin.
What did everybody else think?