Friday, November 30, 2007

Scrubs & Earl: Arrested development

I'm going away for the weekend, which means tonight's "Friday Night Lights" review may be brief, as will Sunday night's "Dexter" review (assuming I'll even have computer access on Sunday night to post it).

In the meantime, some very quick thoughts on last night's "Scrubs" and "My Name Is Earl" coming up just as soon as I doctor my birth certificate...

I really want to be enjoying this final "Scrubs" season more than I am (and the longer the strike lasts, the greater the likelihood that the show won't have a proper finale, short of Bill Lawrence doing a YouTube diary entry where he talks about what would have happened with J.D. and Elliot and what The Janitor's name was), but it continues to feel both flat and repetitive. Having the characters acknowledge that they went through the exact same problem two or three episodes back doesn't excuse the fact that they're doing it again. I appreciate the look at how hard it is to leave behind your (relatively) carefree twenties and deal with the responsibilities of your 30s (having gone through much the same not long ago), but I feel like they're beating me over the head with it, and making J.D. seem even denser than usual in the bargain.

Also beating over the head? The none-too-subtle hints that Kelso was hiding his age to avoid mandatory retirement. It's the kind of story you can actually tell in a final season (not that we'll necessarily get to see the episodes where Kelso steps down), but as with J.D.'s cluelessness about when he could and couldn't be immature, Elliot not getting this, even after she learned he was 65, frustrated me.

Also running in place, though not necessarily in a bad way, was "My Name Is Earl." Earl was talking so much about his freedom that I suspected something would trip him up, and I'm okay with that, because it feels like the better episodes of this uneven season have dealt with Earl as a convict. (This one, maybe not as much as the inter-gang love story, but I'll never complain about an opportunity to see Jason Lee breakdance.) Plus, paroling Earl would have lost us Craig T. Nelson's warden, one of the more amusing characters they've added.

I still expect them to find a way to get Earl out of prison within a few episodes, but now there's a new issue to deal with: Earl's broke. He had to run out of Lotto money eventually -- $100,000 isn't that much money, especially after taxes, and even living in that fleabag motel, it's been more than two years -- and I'm curious to see how Earl sets about being a freelance do-gooder without any money to support himself. Even if he gets back that job at the appliance store with the cast of "Rudy," is that enough to both support himself and the various expenses that come along with The List?

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I, too, lament that Scrubs hasn't quite been up to it this year (in fact, I think the same thing about last year), but I do appreciate the obvious moment toward some kind of closure. My suspicion is that Cox will be picked to succeed Kelso. That might be too obvious, but I don't think Scrubs is really above that at this point.

The breast milk gags were gross and weird, also.

Anonymous said...

Hooch is crazy...

They need to keep him around more. After guys like Ted and Doug who are more like series regulars than just reoccurring roles, Hooch is easily my favorite.

He is sort of like the Disco Stu of Sacred Heart: A character created solely as the punchline to a joke (JD thinks Hooch in Turner & Hooch is a black cop) only to become a beloved part of the show's universe.

Karen said...

I was surprised when Earl burned the artist's work--that was a pretty dark thing to do, despite his provocation, and I just kept thinking, 'That can't be good karma.' So when the warden shredded the certificates, it seemed like karma was still at work.

I don't see why Earl can't continue to work through his list without a job--and if Randy keeps his prison guard job, at least he and Earl will have some income.

Anonymous said...

"I was surprised when Earl burned the artist's work--that was a pretty dark thing to do, despite his provocation, and I just kept thinking, 'That can't be good karma.' So when the warden shredded the certificates, it seemed like karma was still at work."

Ooh, yeah, I agree -- the tone of that moment was quite remarkable, but one of the things I continue to appreciate about My Name Is Earl is the fact that it's willing to occasionally rise above sitcom conventions to do something a little more striking. I include in that the choice to send Earl to prison in the first place, which I still think was a very bold and emotional choice.

I'm really curious to see where they go from here, because I love the warden but hate the thought of him becoming a villain. I have faith that the writers have thought this through in a way that will work, but I have no idea how.

Anonymous said...

I agree Scrubs isn't living up to its promise of the first few seasons. The breast milk joke was gross without being really funny, and giant doctor was mildly amusing. Once. But even though the Kelso storyline was pretty obvious, I still liked it, 'cause I think Ken Jenkins (isn't it?) is the member of the cast who most skillfully walks that line between cartoon character and human being.

Unknown said...

Sorry Earl, you've just been Shawshanked.

afoglia said...

kensington wrote, "My suspicion is that Cox will be picked to succeed Kelso."

That's my suspicion too, and I agree, "Scrubs" has fallen so much in the past two years it's likely, despite the character of Cox is defined by not getting along with the hospital administration and being terrible at self-improvement.

BTW, this plot wasn't a rehash of the one two weeks ago, it was the complete opposite. But that one was a rehash of one from last season. And wasn't last week's a rehash of the season premiere, and again it was pointed out, (Carla telling Elliot she gave her the same advice two weeks earlier).

Alan, do you really want to know what the Janitor's real name is? Is there anything it could be without making a disappointment a la Cosmo Kramer and Angus MacGyver?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, do you really want to know what the Janitor's real name is? Is there anything it could be without making a disappointment a la Cosmo Kramer and Angus MacGyver?

Well, I always thought Jeff Albertson was kinda funny.

Plus, there's the chance that it could, in fact, be Jan I. Tor, which would rule.

Anonymous said...

I friended Zach on myspace (yes, I'm a dork, but apparently Zach sometimes is too - and he writes great blogs) and note that he posted there's a video on youtube of some of the crew getting engaged. (just type scrubs in the seach box)

It was very cool.

I didn't even realize till last night that Scrubs was on this week. I was busy not watching Grey's while I caught up on Journeyman (I love my mythbox - yesterday it found me Josh Groban on GMA and A Beautiful Mind (forget to ask it to search for that before and missed it last airing) Also, it has me swimming in Osmonds thanks to a lucky pickup of Donny on ET a few weeks ago))

Anonymous said...

Best line of the night - "you are a scumbag whisperer." For the delivery of this line alone, Craig T. Nelson needs to be on the show longer. Easy solution - to keep Earl on as a consultant to the wardeb.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was the best Scrubs of the season so far, save maybe episode 7.01. I thought it had the perfect blend of comedy and drama. I screamed laughing when Kelso yelled out, "he's latching!" and during J.D. and Turk's scene with their babies.

It seems like this season so far is an homage to the series. There have been a several mentions of Janitor's real name, and Thursday was the night to bring back Hooch which they did hilariously.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, maybe the previous poster is on to something with the "Best of Scrubs" gameplan for the final season. Because I could swear they've done the giant doctor bit before too, and I don't even watch the show all that much. Can anybody confirm this, so I don't go nuts wondering?

Anonymous said...

"The breast milk gags were gross and weird, also."

I totally agree. Seeing J.D. covered in milk was bad enough, but the cutaway back to Turk was just vulgar and awful. Desperate, even. It was one of the rare moments when I thought to myself, "Maybe the Parents Television Council has a point..."

Also, how are Izzy and Sam magically the exact same age and size?

Anonymous said...

giant doctor is a running game of theirs. Where was Keith, morgue guy? When were Izzie and Sam born?

We saw Hooch on ep 2.02 ofBrothers & Sisters last nught. He was playing a doctor. (Actually the sight of Sally Field in a military hospital to get her son brought back memories (like the thought that no matter who Calista is playing, she's less annoying that Abby. Something I think I'd feel even if I disliked Calista, which - just the opposite)

Lionors said...

Craig T Nelson has been a hoot on "Earl." Doesn't it seem like he's been channeling Jerry Van Dyke to play Warden Jerry?