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Scrubs – New network, new interns, new boss, classic blend

scrubs_090106(Season 8, Episodes 1 & 2 – “My Jerks” & “My Last Words” – Season Premiere)

The first words of the shiny new season on ABC are “That’s new,” as JD points to the ABC logo in the bottom right corner. This segueways us into a discussion between him and the janitor about his new “Miami Vice” beard, which he feels makes him look like a new Kenny Loggins. Yep, Scrubs is back and hasn’t lost any of its charm for the switch from NBC to ABC.

Right off the bat we were introduced to three interns: Katie (who is the mother of all kiss-asses), Denise (who completely lacks in bedside manner), and Ed (who pretended to be a woman on a Lost fansite to mess with someone as revenge for their doing that to him). No, I’m not sure what that means about the character, but that’s what we were given. Much has been made of this being possibly the last season of Scrubs, and definitely the last with Zach Braff. So we’re told this new batch of interns could be the future of the franchise, a la ER and the cast of rotating doctors there. We’ll see.

The next introduction to get out of the way was Courteney Cox in her temporary role as the new Dr. Kelso. He didn’t get a sex change operation, though that would be hilarious! She’s his replacement. And because JD thinks she’s hot, we first got to see her completely with cleavage, flash of bra and mysterious hair-blowing wind in full effect.

The main thrust of the first episode of this season premiere two-parter was the introduction of Dr. Maddox (Cox) to the cast and hospital. Kudos for keeping Dr. Kelso on still. The old coot now apparently just spends his time hanging out in the cafeteria to watch human misery. The big debate was whether or not she was as big a jerk as Kelso was, cold-hearted and driven by the almighty dollar. Cox said the position lured that personality and, despite his best efforts, he got proven right and she was.

The quick jokes were coming fast and furious in classic Scrubs fashion during the opener. That first episode was chock-full of various cast members and recurring extras holding red balloons, a callback to Ed’s introduction where he invited men online (in his guise as a woman) to meet him at the hospital holding red balloons. By the time we got to the second installment, things toned down quite a bit.

Scrubs, in its early years, managed to straddle the balance between broad slapstick and heartfelt human moments, and it looks like Bill Lawrence’s promise that this eighth season would see a welcome return to that was spot-on. “My Last Words” was a beautifully written examination of one’s final moments in this world.

Most of the cast slipped into the background, allowing us to focus on George, a 71-year old terminal patient in his dying moments, and Turk and JD, sacrificing steak night to spend his final moments with him. And those moments were totally devoid of slapstick humor, fantasy moments or any of the other staples of Scrubs comedy that had come to dominate the show much of the past several seasons. Instead, we got some sweet “knowing” humor between JD and Turk and some truly beautiful moments between the three of them.

Beautiful is a weird word to use on a show review, but as I was watching the three of them sharing their fears of death and just talking about what was happening, it was all just so human. So raw and real without being overly sentimental. It was something beautiful. And it was absolutely beautiful to see such a great show in such great form in its eight season.

Creator Bill Lawrence and star Zach Braff have said this will be their last year, and this episode showed me that it would be possible to continue the show without them. JD’s narration was really pushed into the background, and while I still think that aspect of the show will be hard to duplicate in any other fashion, the show itself might be able to survive without the narration. We’ve had other cast members narrate various episodes over the years, but it might be worth considering retiring that particular beat.

Last season or no, I’m glad ABC picked up the baton to bring us this eighth year at Sacred Heart. We saw almost everyone we’ve come to love in the extended cast and saw some simply fantastic writing. By giving us both sides of the Scrubs repertoire in these two opening episodes, I can’t imagine anyone thinking this wasn’t a show that could speak to them. The only thing I don’t like is that by giving us two episodes in one night, that’s one less week of new episodes we’ll get this year.

Photo Credit: ABC Studios

Categories: | Episode Reviews | General | TV Shows |

7 Responses to “Scrubs – New network, new interns, new boss, classic blend”

January 7, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Wait, what? and my TiVo To Do List (and my TiVo guide) all say these are premiering tonight, but most other places I look listed them for last night. Did I miss something?

January 7, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Aryeh… I think either tonight or last night they were substituting for the now pulled Pushing Daises.

So, they should be on again tonight. Don’t miss them. Good stuff.

I, for one, am not looking forward to the show sticking around after this year. It wouldn’t be show to go on without its creator, but shows whose voice is so tied to the creator rarely stand up to what they were. Bill Lawerence is as much Scrubs as Braff is, and while I love both, I think the show could potentially weather losing Braff, but there is no way it could weather losing both.

January 7, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Phew, thanks. I’m not a big fan, but at some point in 2007 we started catching the repeats and saw every episode over the course of a few months. They’re on constantly. Once you’ve invested that many hours in something…

I agree about the voice. However, people say that both Seinfeld and The West Wing went downhill (more so the latter) after their creators (in the case of Seinfeld co-creator) left. I completely disagree. If the creator has done his or her job right, they’ve assembled a cast, crew, and writing room that reflects the heart of their vision.

Either way, if Scrubs makes it to another season, it’ll never be killed. Imagine those people in 10 years!

January 7, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Its ironic that you use the West Wing. TWW is, by far, my favorite television show of all time. And I love seasons 5-7 for completely different reasons than I love the first four. I’m the one that always defends those seasons in these discussions, but I use them to the opposite point now. Most specifically, season 5.

It took most, if not all, of season 5 before the writing team found the voice of the characters. Sorkin wrote, or at leasted is credited, with exactly 93.76% of the writing of the first four seasons (That was, if not noticed, said in my Barney Stinson voice). I think he, not unlike a certain fictionalized TV writer well known to Sorkin (Matt Albie), had trouble relying on the room. I would guess that while he might have gotten help with story ideas, and even instances where others are credited with the teleplay, Sorkin always took the final pass and tweaked the dialog for our (or at least my) favorite characters.

That’s what I found most lacking in Season Five of TWW, and exactly what I think Scrubs will miss.

January 7, 2009 at 6:36 PM

Scrubs could become the ER of comedy without a problem. The new cast of interns proves it. Just keep Dr.Cox and Turk to teach them, and he would be a great show that cost ABC pretty much nothing. They could even move it to cable. The show could even become funnier. The bromance stuff between JD and Turk is not slightly funny anymore. A new cast would re-energize the series.

January 8, 2009 at 5:37 AM

Everything worked in these two episodes. I’ve waited three years for this. It’s just too bad that I feel like they won’t be able to keep the quality at this level *crosses fingers*

January 11, 2009 at 10:42 PM

Courtney Cox will probably give Scrubs a big PR boost, and she’s pretty funny as well

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