Friday, February 09, 2007

Scrubs: Baby talk

The morning column link: a look at how "Brothers & Sisters" -- this season's Show in Trouble poster girl -- has turned out to be pretty decent.

Meanwhile, spoilers for "Scrubs" coming right up...

Historically, I've been ambivalent about the show's dramatic leanings. Sometimes, the heavy stuff works beautifully ("My Old Lady," Brendan Fraser's episodes), but more often those scenes feel like the writers have just come down from an all-night "Wonder Years" marathon. ("And that was when my life changed, forever... until the next day, when it changed right back.") Where the comedy half of the show was consistently great all those years, you never knew whether the dramatic half would be worth the time.

Even last night, the show only batted .500 on the serious material. Cox's reaction to news of the baby's troubles, and then to learning he would have a girl? Absolutely perfect. Kim pulling a Theresa from "The O.C." and lying to J.D. about a miscarriage? Awful, awful, awful.

In real life, John C. McGinley's son Max has Down syndrome -- a fact he and the mom didn't discover until the day Max was born -- so he didn't have to search very far for his motivation on this one. I'm not ashamed to admit that he and Donald Faison made me cry in that last scene in the break room. Very nicely done.

The Kim twist, meanwhile, was the latest disaster in a storyline that's been nothing but. I remember talking to Bill Lawrence the morning before last season's finale aired, and he could barely get through a description of the knocked-up development without laughing hysterically. I just think he and the writers were so fixated on how humiliating it would be for J.D. to get a girl pregnant on the very first shot that they didn't think through the implications, and a lot of this season has been devoted to cleaning up that mess, while accomodating Elizabeth Banks' movie career. I think if she had genuinely miscarried, it would have been okay, and they could have even found an excuse to bring Kim back if Banks had a hole in her schedule (she was very funny in her first episode), but this was not a good idea, especially if it means we're going to drag this thing out even longer.

And I realize that I've gotten through an entire post without discussing any of the comedy, so I'll mention my favorite bit: J.D. and the Dudemeister wistfully imagining a world where Elliott was sold into white slavery.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again. The show just feels flat and tired these days. Even Dr. Cox, who I used to find hysterical, just annoys me most of the time now with his rambling diatribes and weird delivery. The show's not unwatchable, but I don't really find myself laughing much anymore or even really caring about what happens to the characters. Mostly I'm watching out of loyalty and because of my former fondness for the show.

I have mixed feelings about the Kim thing. When she first said she miscarried my initial thought was "I'm surprised it took them this long." But when it was revealed she had lied, I thought it was a good twist. Unfortunately, it's a twist whose ramifications I don't want to have to watch play out. But it's also a twist that can't just be ignored. The only way it'll work out is if it turns out it was never J.D.'s baby. But even the "drama" around that isn't something I particularly want to see.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article on Brothers & Sisters. I like the direction the show is going in and am glad they got over the early creative bumps. However, I read several reviews of the pilot over the summer, so I know copies did make it out to some members of the press. (Maybe mostly in Canada? You can actually see a clip of the original pilot at the "sneak preview" here: Personally, I'd still love to see it just to see how it compares to the show we have now.

I'm also glad and not surprised they got rid of Marti Noxon. I thought the seasons she was in charge of Buffy were its worst and that Point Pleasant was unwatchable. I also saw the pilot for her show Still Life, a family drama that also dealt heavily with a family member's death, and it was one of the most dour and depressing hours I've ever seen. I was not at all suprised when Fox decided to never air a single episode.

Anonymous said...

Figures my link got cut off. I'll try again:

Unknown said...

I was hoping for a closing gag with Turk putting on a concert (Al Green?) for Kelso's wife.

I think the writers are trying new things, with some working and some not. The "issues" that some storylines revolved around (abortion, the war in Iraq, post-partum depression) have been hit and miss. The coffee shop replacing the cafeteria setting is a change of scenary with some Starbuck-themed gags. I thought the characters who ended up on the roadtrip avoided the obvious set-up by swapping Cox and Turk for Keith and Ted in order to try some new interactions, and that worked.

I agree that the Kim storyline was wasted a bit, and I'm not sure where that ending leads to: either dropped, revisted, or an out for JD to leave the show to be with Kim and JD Jr. The funny thing is that JD knocking up Kim provides the plot to the new Judd Apatow comedy Knocked Up, so you can wring some good material from the scenario.

I suppose it's just hard to freshen a show in its sixth year. That being said, I still enjoy Scrubs as much as the rest of that Thursday line-up. McGinley and Faison acted the hell out of their scenes.

Anonymous said...

The ep wasn't all bad: Turk danced!

I'm puzzled as to Kim's motivation for lying about the miscarriage. I can think of several reasons, but none of them seem dramatically satisfying. When she first announced the miscarriage, I thought, "So that's how they're writing her out," but with the twist at the end, I have no idea where they're going. Or if I will care.

The Janitor's temporary personality change after walking out of the moving RV was pretty funny.

Anonymous said...

Never thought I'd ever say this, but it would have been better if Kim had the miscarriage instead of this needless twist.
It reminds me of that Fraiser season when they tried to make with the "dramedy."
After last week's great ep, it was sad to see the ball get dropped this week.
I do believe the writers will eventually pair up Elliot and JD, perhaps in the Series Finale?

Anonymous said...

I sure hope so. Even if it would be a rather conventional ending (and we know Bill Lawrence hates conventional).

Alan Sepinwall said...

The funny thing is that JD knocking up Kim provides the plot to the new Judd Apatow comedy Knocked Up, so you can wring some good material from the scenario.

The "Knocked Up" trailer looks very funny. I think there are two differences. First, "Scrubs" was largely going for pathos on the insta-pregnancy thing, where the movie is mostly playing it for laughs. Second, on "Scrubs" it was always one element out of four or five being squeezed into 21 minutes or so of story, so there was never enough time to develop it properly and make it feel important.

Anonymous said...

What episode should I start rewatching Brothers and Sisters at? I started it in the fall because I'm madly in love with Rachel Griffiths. But I couldn't take it. It wasn't funny, and I was really done at "I was six blocks from those towers when they came down!" (ugh). Even though I'm totally devoted to the L Word on Sundays, I can catch up on So which episode does it start getting good?

Anonymous said...

I was LIVID.
It was just weird. (okay, not "just")

I was just off ofGrey's Anatomy (you've seen it, I know, but I haven't read your comments yet) so you knowwhere I was. And I decided I'd spend a peaceful 20 minutes with Scrubs before diving into ER.

I was wondering how I'd missed that Ausiello scene... and then, there it was.

My hatred of Kim turned quickly to hatred of the writers. And a peek at my email turned up a friend screaming *on a Grey's Anatomy list*, cause she had nowhere else to go with it, about Kim et al. I joined her.

On second watching I noticed the ring tone on Turk's phone (first time I was just gigling over Cox's pooltable cellphone shot. Did you catch it?

The rest of the ep was great. I loved it. And I've loved Scrubs' depth since My Old Lady.

Stupid writers.


Alan Sepinwall said...

Bebe, I think the 9/11 episode was written after Berlanti came on board, so if you didn't like that one...

I will say that tomorrow night's episode is pretty light and frothy, and the relationships aren't too tough to suss out, so that might be a good starting point if you're still interested.

Anonymous said...

Really? Gosh, I could have sworn that was only the second or third episode. Anyway maybe I'll just start watching where I left off, and if I hate it I'll skip ahead and give some later shows a try. At least Rachel is pretty. So pretty...