If you didn't have a DVR season pass set up for "Scrubs," you may not have realized that ABC snuck it back onto the schedule last night, with the final two episodes of the season (if not the series) getting an audition as part of the Wednesday lineup. It continued the show's post-Zach Braff creative upswing, and I'll have a few thoughts coming up just as soon as I take an unintended, decisive nap...
Early on in this season, I had a hard time viewing Cole as anything but a watered-down version of Ed, the Aziz Ansari character from last season. But James Franco's Brother Dave Franco has really won me over with his cheerful obliviousness. Cole preparing alternate rhymes depending on the diagnosis was a great gag leading into the main titles, as was Cole's pride as he declared, "Hear that? I'm a tool, yo!"
The writers wisely put Cole and Bob Kelso in a room together for the emotional climax of both men's stories. Ken Jenkins tends to make everybody better when he shares a scene with them, but the combination of the shallow young man who doesn't know anything and the creepy old man who knows everything has been a winning one every time they've tried it this season.
If the Denise/Drew/Cox stuff felt repetitive of material we've seen elsewhere this season, it's still funny to see the different gradations and styles of sarcasm and misanthropy among the three, and all these years in, the writers can still come up with amusing nicknames for Cox to hang on the young'uns, here with him dubbing Trang "Talking Man-Baby."
I've come around to Bill Lawrence's way of thinking that you have to think of this season as a spin-off in everything but name, and on that score, I think they've done pretty well for themselves once JD packed his bags (and even the last JD episode was good). I don't put the chances of a return next year especially high; given the lack of promotion for this episode, you could just as easily view this as Burn-Off Theatre as an audition(*), and I think the network would have to have a pretty horrible comedy development season for "Scrubs" to come back.
(*) And for those wondering why "Better Off Ted" didn't get this treatment, the answer is simple: ABC owns "Scrubs," and not "Ted." Ownership may not matter with more successful shows, but these two get such marginal ratings that the only reason to keep either around at all is if the company has potential for some back-end money. "Ted"s dead, baby. "Ted" is dead. Alas.
That said, I went into this season wondering why the hell they were continuing, given what a strong and appropriate end to the series we got last season, and the first few episodes of this year only confirmed my fears. But "Scrubs Med School" got much better as it went along, and I'm glad I got to meet characters like Drew and Cole, and to spend a little more time with Cox and Kelso and Denise, even if this is the end. (And Bill said there won't be a proper finale for this season/spin-off, so expect another regular episode next week.) Ultimately, this wasn't "Frasier," but nor was it "AfterM*A*S*H," and it was better than the last year or two on NBC. I'm okay with that.
What did everybody else think?