Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Scrubs, "Our Dear Leaders": Turk dances (sort of)!

A review of last night's "Scrubs" - the last episode currently scheduled to air, but not necessarily the last one that will air - coming up just as soon as I run out of clean laundry...

Of last night's episode, one of my Twitter followers wrote, "I think that was the 6th time I watched a new scrubs thinking it would be the last ever."

I don't know if the number could actually be that high (it was only the last couple of NBC seasons where the show began to seem like it was living on borrowed time), but I understand the larger feeling. "Scrubs" has been close to ending for what feels like forever, and this isn't even automatically the ending. As Bill Lawrence said at press tour, ABC might air the two episodes left in the can on Wednesdays (if they do, my guess would be during the rerun-heavy March/April period). And because ABC owns the show and therefore (unlike the situation with "Better Off Ted") makes money off the DVDs and other back-end items, there's still a chance (however tiny) that we could see another season.

But since I don't really believe in the renewal scenario, and since Bill told me that the last episode in the can won't be a real finale-style episode like we got last year, I can treat "Our Dear Leaders" as the end of the line, and anything that airs afterwards as a bonus. And in that context, the episode summed up the strengths and weaknesses of "Scrubs Med School."

On the plus side, it made the Cox/Drew parallels even more explicit with Perry's plan to make Drew realize being a leader is a good thing, it had more fun with Denise (as played by a sore-throated Eliza Coupe) learning to accept that she has emotions other than hatred, it gave James Franco's Brother Dave Franco more funny bits of business in the margins (along with similar stuff from The Todd), and it let Donald Faison dance, however briefly. (And on a night when I randomly put on WGN long enough for them to show a "Scrubs" promo featuring Turk's greatest dance ever!)

But the Turk story overall gave us a character who, like JD in the season's earlier episodes, should have grown up more by now. As we saw with last week's lesbian patient story (and as Myles McNutt also observed in his review), in trying to force all the stories to work around a parallel theme, it feels like they've had to regress Turk too much to make his plots match those of the med students. And Lucy's insanity was only funny to a point.

When Lawrence told me back in the summer that the new main character/narrator would be a woman, he called it a "dynamic shift." But Lucy is so tonally similar to JD that the shift never felt that dynamic. In retrospect, I wonder what a Drew-narrated version of this season would have been like. We probably would have had to ditch the fantasy sequences, but we actually haven't had that many from Lucy, and that's an aspect of the show that hasn't been essential for a long time.

Back in the summer, Lawrence said:
"It very well may suck. But don't say it sucks until you see it. And my pledge is that if it sucks, it's not going to suck in a fizzly way. It's going to suck in a giant, 'Oh my god' kind of way, because we're really swinging for the fences and trying to do some big stuff.
In the end (if this is the end), this new incarnation of "Scrubs" only occasionally sucked in an "Oh my god" way, and usually when JD was on screen. But there were enough interesting moments, and good discoveries (Franco, Michael Mosley), that I'm glad they gave it a shot. And if ABC somehow decides to keep "Scrubs" as The Show That Won't Die, then it sounds like (and, based on these more recent episode, seems like) Lawrence and company have a better idea of how to make this version of the show work going forward.

And if we don't get a real finale this time, so what? We already got "My Finale" last spring.

What did everybody else think?


Lisa said...

I love a Turk!Dance as much as anyone, but stick a fork in "Scrubs." It's done.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised by how much I liked this season. I thought the only weak link was Lucy, but it didn't bother me too much.

And I didn't like Dave Franco's character at first, but he grew on me a lot as the show went on. Plus, the relationship between Jo and Drew was always hilarious. "Your face looks dumb."

I'm going to miss it...

srpad said...

I have been growing to like the med students more and more (Lucy's "More Horses" line is still making me chuckle--I think it was the look on her face) but I agree it seems they have had to infantize Turk to make the stories work.

I am ambivelent on whether this continues or not but like Alan I don't regret this season. It sure wasn't Frasier, but it wasn't AfterMASH either.

fronzak said...

Hey Alan, at least you had one last time to hit a link to the Turk/Poison spectacular.

dez said...

Of the newbies, I'll miss Jo and Drew most of all. And maybe Cole a little bit. Otherwise, it was (mostly) fun while it lasted.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised at how much leeway you all have been willing to give this mostly laugh-free, beyond-pale imitation of what was once a great show while constantly beating up on House which while having problems, still manages to grow and evolve most of the time and is funnier most weeks than any episode of AfterScrubs was. House has kept changing, he didn't go backward like J.D. or stay the same like the rest of the Scrubs characters I used to love who were surrounded by these strangers.

Michael G. said...

Please stop posting that link to Turk's Poison dance. I don't have the willpower to not click it...I watched it 5+ times yesterday when you posted it on Twitter.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sorry, Michael G. Odds are this will be the last time for a long time.

RosebuDD said...

I actually thought last nights episode was one of it's best despite the Turk stuff. I think it was the first time I actually was laughing at Lucy's weirdness and seeing Cox smile so much was just too creepy.
Jo was the best thing happening all season so even if Med School doesn't get another season I hope she lands on a good show.
As a loyal Scrubs fan since the beginning who was wanting it to just go away after season 5, I find myself pleasantly surprised by this JD-less Sacred Heart every week. I'll have my fingers crossed for another season.

Andy L said...

I didn't buy Lucy as a socially inept wallflower (way to hot not to have been even a little bit socialized) and I didn't buy her as crazy alpha dog with a violent streak.

That said, I have enjoyed this season more than I expected to and James Franco's Brother Dave Franco has turned from a weak link and a cliche into a primetime player. Loved his reaction to Turk asking him to Beep Box (I don't know if I can, but I'll give it a try...) almost as much as I love the fact that Turk knows exactly who to ask in the first place.

Anonymous said...

i would watch another season for sure. it may not hit the heights that scrubs did in its prime, but still pretty funny and touching.

Pamela Jaye said...

the morning after I don't remember Turk as regressed, at least not anymore than whichever surgeon beat a parking spot stealer in the parking garage (was it Benton or Geiger?)

Sad to end now when I like it again. Lucy is a little but MPD but I like Eliza and Burnout (too many names!)

And on AfterScrubs, Chief of (anything) has an office! (even if we don't see it)
Bumper Buddies! (not possible at the old Scared Heart)

the one thing I noticed last night, kept looking at clock, show not over yet! in a good way.

Jim said...

I'll take this last show seriously enough to say that Turk's regression was in character. He's always been a hotshot, so it makes sense that as the youngest chief of surgery ever, he's jealous of another young hotshot. And when he dances, he pulls a muscle? Perfect sign on the onset of middle age.

Gonna really miss Jo-Denise and Dr Kelso. And I liked that this new run showed that Dr Cox could like a med student/intern, just not JD.

Anonymous said...

and Bill Lawrence, if you're reading, and if this show comes back: Make Lucy a secondary character, focus on Denise and Drew. Or at the very least kill of Lucy's voiceovers.

timb said...

Loved the episode last night. the Denise and Drew romance is outstanding

"I like it when figure skaters fall"

"Not good enough. Everyone likes that"

"I like it when children fall..."

"I love you."

You don't find enough shows championing the misanthrope lifestyle and in this show, there are three. Bring Scrubs Med School for one last season!

Unknown said...

Wow. I don't even remember the dance. Must not have been all that. Scrubs is OK, but having JD in those first episodes doomed it from the start. If it comes back, cool, if not, I won't miss it, not the way I was missing it at the end of last season.

Anonymous said...

No Carla is a big no-no. She was the glue that held the old Scrubs together. It was a mistake to not make her and Turk the focus of this new Scrubs.

Oh well. We already got our beautiful send off finale last season. I'll just pretend this season doesn't exist. The new characters are lifeless and boring. The old characters seem immature and stuck in a rut. Poor Scrubs... :(