Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Scrubs, "Our Mysteries": How can we miss you if you won't leave?

A review of last night's "Scrubs" coming up just as soon as I let all the funk out...
"I don't know, old friend. I've left so many times, I've come back so many times. Even I'm confused." -JD
If the continuation/reinvention of "Scrubs" hasn't damaged the show's overall legacy for me, it's started to make me resent John Dorian a lot. At the very least, it's reminded me of how insufferable he was in the last few NBC seasons before coming back to earth last year. And once again, his presence as irrationally needy man-child - and the apparent need to make him prominent while the show still had him(*) - has made it hard to really gauge how well "Scrubs" Med (or Zombie "Scrubs," or whatever kind of unkind nickname you want to give it) is doing.

(*) This was the fifth episode out of Braff's six-episode commitment, but with JD wrapping up his Sacred Heart teaching gig, I'm assuming - or hoping - his last appearance will be smaller, probably in a personal story involving Turk, or Cox, or even Elliot whenever Sarah Chalke appears next.

The JD portions of the episode continued to be extremely lame - other than the intro of the Interracial Hardy Boys idea, and the scenes at Bob Kelso's shag pad - but I still stubbornly believe the rest of the series still has some promise. The joy in Cox's voice as he talked about opening the "big box of failure" at Christmas, or the terror on Denise and Drew's faces as Sunny asked them on a double date were reminders that there are several very strong comic characters/actors left as regulars. And if Cole still seems like warmed-over Aziz Ansari, Dave Franco plays very well with Ken Jenkins. (But then, who on the show doesn't?)

This season/spin-off has had its early problems, but so many of them have been tied to the decision to bring back JD - and then to the writing staff backsliding in their writing of him - that I really want to see the first post-Braff episode before making a major judgment on things.

Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, I guess. The ratings have been bad (though not as bad as for "Better Off Ted"), and because "Lost" is coming to Tuesdays before these two comedies will have been on the air for 13 weeks, ABC is going to double-run both for the month of January, and they're also going to air a "Scrubs" and two "Ted"s after the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.

In other words, we've reached Mid-Season Burn-Off Theatre mode.

It was a surprise that ABC renewed either comedy in the first place, and the ratings have shown why. So enjoy Zombie "Scrubs" (or don't) while it lasts, because this looks like we're finally, actually, really coming to the end of the line soon.

What did everybody else think?

29 comments:

Bouncey Drummer said...

I DONT WANT SCRUBS TO END!!!! It's the best show I've ever seen, drama and comedy-wise. It's got everything! At the end of Season 8 I thought "I just have to accept it that it's ending.." then when they renewed it, I was like "HELL YEAH!!" Join Save Our Scrubs at www.scrubs-hq.com Or find them on Twitter!!!

Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly. The current episodes have no substance, and it's very hard to get behind the new characters. The best episodes, in my opinion, focused on Kelso or Cox making tough decisions or helping someone along (see: "My Boss's Free Haircut" or "My Lunch"). The good episodes also centered around the interactions between JD, Elliot, Turk and the patients they were taking care of (see: "My Old Lady" or "My Screw Up").

The decision to continue "Scrubs" was a bad one, as some will perhaps remember the show for the last few seasons, rather than the first five. It isn't "Scrubs" without JD, Janitor, Carla, or Elliot. The best part of the "new season" has been Cox and Kelso, not the "newbies."

As far as JD's whininess, it seems that he has reverted to the man-child Cox abhors. It's funny because we can hear a Cox rant about JD's neediness; it's not funny because...well, because JD should be nine years older than he was at the start of the show, not nine years younger (which would make him...16? 17?)

~ Matt W.

Jim Hill said...

The appropriate name for this ... thing ... we've been given is "AfterScrubs". It's got a few of the characters from a great medically-themed sitcom that we loved, but the setting has changed, the new characters are forgettable, it's not terribly funny, and it's Doomed.

Anonymous said...

I still can't adjust to new visual style. It's pretty, but it also seems to dampen much of the humor. Even the imaginary sequences don't quite have that sense of heightened reality I've come to expect.

It doesn't tick me off the way it some of the middle seasons did, in which I would turn off the television in the middle of episodes, but this season is so disappointing, I feel even worse. I'll watch the remaining episodes, if only out of some small sense of loyalty, and because there's nothing else I'm interested in watching at that time.

I Hate Dr Cox said...

Hi,

Couldn't agree more. The whole character of J.D. man/boy thing is so incredibly annoying that I just want shot of it. This was apparent by about episode two. I'm starting to think that ZB has morphed into J.D. (or vice versa) and can't 'do' anything else other than a nerdy/needy guy. (I chuckle to myself when I remember when John C explains where the girls names originally came from) I can understand why ZB was brought back in the first place, but in the scheme of things, it's done it more harm than good.

I also agree in that, I really want to see the characters without J.D., (i.e. seeing the difference of Lucy from 1+2 to 4 was a great improvement, so by giving more time to the new chars would have been better off) and the whole Turk/J.D. manlove thing is still recycled in every episode - hitting a long-dead horse. What about his relationship with Elliot? Oh, cutting costs right, and being very (read 'far TOO') tight on rationing the quantity of big characters...

With the current format, who / what should I focus on? As a long-time viewer, surely J.D right? But uhm, he's leaving, so should I focus on Lucy instead? As a new viewer, Huh?

There are all these new 'young' characters appealing to a younger audience, and very little is happening with them. Wasted. opportunity. Why the character of Maya has been left off the ABC Scrubs site I'll never know. (She brings with her a following from Neighbours, and the lads mags she's shot for).

Annnd, I personally hate it when, throughout seasons, characters just don't develop because the writers think they're onto a winning streak (I'm sure we can all think of many examples,) and the actors simply outgrow their character. J.D.

Conversely, I hated how quickly Denise changed from the hard-ass exterior to this soft-ball of mush. Sure the writers were eager to develop her, but really, this quickly?

I want a storyline, not a mishmash of scenes. For that, I'll watch a sketch show. (which, let's face it, now, most sketch shows have a loose story line to them). But, I do think the writers had a difficult time with having to incorporate J.D / Turk into #9

If there is to be a season 10 / season 2, hopefully ABC will listen to BL, and have it as a separate shoot-off than an attempt at a continuation of the old 'finished' show.

Ugh, maybe I should have written this on the site, and sorry to ramble!

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for the fact that absolutely nothing else in on right now then last night would have finally been it for me. Not only is JD incredibly annoying but I actually don't even find Dr. Cox funny anymore. His rants have bascially been on recycle for the last few seasons and while I loved John C. McGinley's portrayal when the show started I actually now find myself making fun of his intonations and delivery. Lucy is also incredibly irritating and a really poor choice for a new lead. The only part of the episode I cared for was the one that focused on Denise and Drew. Maybe if this continuation of the show had been conceived slightly differently (most significantly with no JD!) I would feel differently, but at this point I think it's impossible not to think of this season as having ruined the show's legacy. Last season I thought, "I was ready for this show to end, but I'm glad it came back for this last season because it's the best the show has been in years." Now I'll think "Seasons 6 & 7 sucked, but I was glad it came back for season 8 and went out with a bang. Then it came back yet again and was unwatchable." Definitely leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Anonymous said...

Alan,
How much of this is Bill Lawrence's fault? The show isn't just stagnant, it seems stubbornly defiant to give the viewers stories we don't want. We've repeated storylines over and over again, JD keeps becoming a cartoon character, and keeping his wife in the cast when she was the obvious weak link of the series, just seem like giant F U's to everyone. It feels like Bill thinks he can just do whatever he wants and thinks it's great.

I actually think the cast of actors they'll keep on the show are pretty good, they just need some new writing and some new ideas (do something more drastic akin to Parks and Rec coming out of the Office).

LA said...

JD is insufferable and boring, and I agree with everyone's comments about how he's ruining everything.

That last scene with Cole and Kelso was golden, best scene of the night. McGinley's been bringing it all season, and I think Faison is strong enough to make Turk interesting without JD.

In my TV fantasty world, Braff stays behind the camera, ABC dumps The Middle, moves Scrubs to that timeslot, the Janitor returns to Sacred Heart, and they all live happily ever after.

Alan Sepinwall said...

How much of this is Bill Lawrence's fault?

I imagine Bill would say the buck stops with him. It's slightly more complicated than that. ABC reportedly made the renewal contingent on JD's presence, at least part-time, and I would argue that JD has been responsible for the vast majority of what hasn't worked about this season. And that includes the sketchy writing of the newbies, since I think/hope they would have been better fleshed-out if the show weren't spending so much time on JD.

Having said that (TM Larry David), there was probably a way to bring back JD and have him be the evolved guy from the final season, and Bill and the writers are instead writing him this way. So unless ABC also demanded a wackier, needier JD, this is on the writing staff, which includes Bill.

keeping his wife in the cast when she was the obvious weak link of the series,

Huh? Christa Miller is over on Cougar Town - and is, frankly, one of the stronger parts of Cougar Town.

Alan Sepinwall said...

In my TV fantasty world, Braff stays behind the camera, ABC dumps The Middle, moves Scrubs to that timeslot, the Janitor returns to Sacred Heart, and they all live happily ever after.

I love Jan I. Tor/Glenn Matthews/Tony as much as the next guy, but does the character really work long-term without JD as his foil?

cadfile said...

The Hardy Boys spoof was funny but that was about it. JD searching for the person who gave a negative review was annoying so I was on Dr. Cox's side on that but the final slide show in the class room was goofy funny.

I do think they missed a good chance to do something different with the show and being forced to include JD as his man/child persona is not fun to watch overall.

Pamela Jaye said...

I can't imagine the Janitor without JD to taunt

irrationally needy man-child

yes, people who know me would probably find this funny, but at this point he's annoying even me. (and he's negating the growth of last season, which is the worst part, and Meredith Grey has more backbone than he does (thank you, writers' strike))

I got the impression that ABC has canceled the show (again) from TV by the numbers. Or was that just an assumption based on the burn-off? If true, we don't have to wait and see if it gets better, cause it really doesn't mater anyway.

Cleaning the DVR last night I watched a promo during that home makeover show, that had Zach leaving the studio with Rowdy (or Steven?) under his arm and Turk calling him back because they had "found more scripts"

The part I did like was Dr Cox's eval. I kinda knew he's written it (they just kept distracting me so the idea had no time to gel) Good for Cox. Still... after waiting 8 seasons to get his pat on the head from Dr Cox, and then ACTUALLY GETTING IT (sorry) it drives me nuts that he was back to the whole needing approval thing (even it that was THE topic, based on Student evals of Teachers.
This was done so much better on ER (which, granted, was rarely ever silly) - for example, the time Carter gave Benton a horrible eval, then learned he's gotten.. something... and CCH Pounder asked if he wanted to take another crack at writing it.
Evals aside, JD really does want everyone to like him, and... maybe it would have been better to tell a story of how you can't have everyone liking you if you are going to be a doctor.

Since it was mentioned, I have a question. My Screwup: was that the one where Jordam's brother died? I've never quite understood that ep (mostly I can't tell where the fantasy begins). *Did* anyone screw up? I know Ben had leukemia, must have had remission, then returned and suddenly we are at his funeral. What did I miss?


(I'm also not clear on why Dr Cox thinks he's going to a birthday party - denial is big, but not *that* big, but I worry that asking that might take away from my first question. Did someone screw up?)

belinda said...

I'm mixed on JD's presence; on the one hand, he really needs to leave so I can see more of the newbies to see if the show would work, but I also loved that Hardy Boys cover.

(btw, I'm scratching my head trying to remember which show that a quote that goes something like this is from:
Person A: ...we'd solve the mystery, like Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys!
Person B: Oh, you mean Nancy Boys?

I keep thinking it's Veronica Mars, but I'm not sure...any ideas?)

Ben said...

Have been bitching about JD for the past few seasons (except last) like everyone else. But it didn't it seem on some level like the fake eval of JD was almost the writers/Bill Lawrence's way of acknowledging the back slide of the character in some way.

I mean, when the eval was read, it sounded EXACTLY like something anyone on here would have written. So, why would the writers go through all the trouble of writing JD is a whiny child - again - if just to go back and call him out for it - again? I'm thinking this has something to do with ABC's desire for Braff to be back on the air and the staff calling foul in some way, like they also wanted to move on.

Lost talks to their viewers, be it by having Sawyer make a crack about "that guy wearing eyeliner" or the great Hurley-Miles time travel discussion. In some way, I think this might be the same.

If not, then BOOOO to whomever's call it was to have JD regress.

Oh, as for the Krista Miller = weak link comment, no way. She was GREAT on as Jordan.

And as for your Franco, all he is Todd getting a promotion to the main cast. He is growing on me, but in theory he woul be better served as Todd-like character, i.e. small doses. Sadly, I feel the same way about Lucy.

LA said...

I love Jan I. Tor/Glenn Matthews/Tony as much as the next guy, but does the character really work long-term without JD as his foil?

Good point, I guess hadn't thought it through very far. I can't have it both ways, and I'd sacrifice The Janitor to get rid of JD. It's just I hate The Middle but wish nothing but the best for Neil Flynn.

zoz said...

belinda - Is this the "Nancy Boys" quote you meant?

Frasier: "You know, I dabbled in juvenile fiction myself. Yes, Niles and I, when we were boys, wrote a series of stories together in which we were the heroes. Along the lines of a Hardy Boys or a Nancy Drew."

Roz: "The Nancy Boys?"

(from "Frasier" episode 8.19 "Daphne Returns")

Pamela Jaye said...

I never would have gotten that. I would have thought it was Spike.

my captcha word is binthat

belinda said...

zoz, wow, thanks! *sigh of relief* I most definitely would not have figured that one out for sure.

But yep, anyway, seeing JD and Turk's mystery cover definitely reminded me of that quote.

Billiam said...

I've been enjoying these episodes, though like you, I'm excited to see the show run without JD.
Unlike some posters here, I like the newbies. The only real problem I have is that Lucy keeps sleeping with Cole: it would easier to root for her if she wasn't make such awful personal decisions. Actually, I'm kind of surprised that the writers decided to couple the new characters immediately, instead of doing any will-they-won't-theys.

Anonymous said...

Alan, it looks like ABC has decided to air a rerun next week. I know they had them scheduled so they'd be burned off by the end of January. Does this mean one will be going unaired? Or are they double/triple running on another night to make up for it now?

Pamela Jaye said...

I thought I heard something about an airing after the... Rose Bowl? have you tried thefutoncritic ? They usually have a list. I know I got some emails recently, but I just tossed them.
never mind
here's the page

Mike said...

My Screwup: was that the one where Jordam's brother died? I've never quite understood that ep (mostly I can't tell where the fantasy begins). *Did* anyone screw up? I know Ben had leukemia, must have had remission, then returned and suddenly we are at his funeral. What did I miss?

I didn't watch tonight's episode (I didn't even know there was a new "Scrubs" tonight, since I gave up after the third episode of this season), but I wanted to chime in to say that "My Screw Up" was indeed the "Sixth Sense" episode.

It's been a while since I've seen the episode, but according to Wikipedia, this was how the episode got its name:

"Dr. Cox angrily blames J.D. for a patient's death and dismisses him, but Ben calms Dr. Cox down, and he eventually apologizes to J.D."

So yes, there was a screw-up involved.

Pamela Jaye said...

Mike:
Thank you! I would not have thought to look at wikipedia - or other linked Scrubs references

http://scrubs.wikia.com/wiki/My_Screw_Up

Rory L. Aronsky said...

The appropriate name for this ... thing ... we've been given is "AfterScrubs". It's got a few of the characters from a great medically-themed sitcom that we loved, but the setting has changed, the new characters are forgettable, it's not terribly funny, and it's Doomed.

Hence, Zombie Scrubs.

dez said...

The best parts were Denise & Drew, and Cole & Kelso (well, and that Hardy Boys cover). I also enjoyed seeing Sunny and didn't mind Lucy as much as I usually do. Still, won't be sad if this is canceled because they really have screwed the pooch on it.

Jim said...

Christa Miller a weak link? In the early years especially, she was one of the great characters, and I think it suffered as much of the show did in seasons (I think) 5 and 6. It really seemed like she was having trouble acting, even reading lines, because she was so heavily botoxed.

andy said...

I was a huge scrubs fan when the show debuted back... well, it seems like a generation ago. The series really died after season 5, and most of the episodes in the past few seasons were so unwatchable that I rather watch re-runs of Friends and Seinfeid. What made the show great was the hospital drama that the writers somehow turn into comedy, and the interaction between Cox and the "scrubs" (JD, Turk, and Elliot). Carla, the janitor, the Todd, and Ted are great compliments to the main characters. NBC was spot on to not renew because as great as the characters are, you kinda need a plot and a storyline to carry the show. They ran out of stories to tell, they are no relationships lefts between the main characters to write about (unless they go melrose and just start having everyone sleep with each other) and like some of the people have said, there is very little substance in these episodes. The show hit its climax in season 5 with "my lunch", and "my fallen idol"... other favorites include brenden frazier's cameo in season 3's "my screw up" and of course the following episode "my tormented mentor"... all-time favorite has to be "my way home", which was brilliantly done. It's been three seasons since there's been anything close to being good. For me, the series ended 3 years ago.

Pamela Jaye said...

(unless they go melrose and just start having everyone sleep with each other)

Well, this explains Private Practice. thanks!

My Lunch, My Fallen Idol, My Way Home, all in My List of Favorites.
I watched My Screw Up the other day to see when Ben actually died.
Somehow, the second round (My Lunch, My Fallen Idol) I liked better than My Screw Up/My Tormented Mentor.

Although they mustn't have made much of an impact at the time. It must have been spring (in spring my brother comes over to watch TV and I fall asleep from trying to hold my allergies in check all day.) We saw Mt Deja Vu and Perry was "back" and I couldn't remember what he was back *from.* Jay said, Don't you remember...? and I barely did, but later on, going thrpugh the eps, I found we'd both missed My Fallon Idol. Major Oops. Some day mythTV will find a way to keep watched lists and some day 5 years after that, we'll upgrade everything and be able to use it.
In the meantime, Oops.

Matt Stechel said...

i like the show---i'm in it til the axe officially falls. I honestly think the writers and Bill did the best possible job they could have at keeping the show going and keeping it creatively viable. Say what you will and a lot of you already have about JD or the varying qualities of the various newbies--but the jokes and the writing have been consistently solid from week to week (there's been at least three-five laugh out loud one liners with each ep aired so far) and not too bad drama stemming from the main character's personal failings or whatever

I honestly don't know what more (or what else) Laurence and company could've possibly done to extend the show that would actually please its fans---but like the rest of America i am beyond ready to say good-bye to the show (that finale last May was perfect) but i'll never begrudge or regret that they got the opportunity to keep the show alive for another dozen or so eps.



(how many shows have been cancelled over the years where you shake your head and go ohh if only they had another season or two---hell newsradio which i loved to death was already well outta gas when they were cancelled but i was still upset that we never got to see the cast go to vermont!!! hell going back even further---i imagine they could've totally gotten another season out of Taxi despite the fact that there many limp eps throughout that last season....sometimes you just want a much loved show to have had more episodes...ain't nothin' wrong with that----is there????)