I was glad to hear the news that Scrubs is moving to a new night in March (even if that means it’s going to be sacrificed to American Idol) and will only air once a week when it does. I’ve been enjoying the doubled-up episodes this month, but I’d also like to see the season play out for a while and not feel like ABC is rushing to get it over with.
Because if the show keeps up the quality like it has so far, I’m going to want to savor it — sort of like Elliot and her cookies.
These spoilers will zwa you good.
Episode 1 – “My ABC’s”
J.D. was plagued by Muppet-based daydreams in this episode, which was written and directed by creator Bill Lawrence. I’m never sad to see Grover, Oscar and Elmo — especially when Elmo is a little more, uh, grown-up than we’re used to — but despite the efforts to tie the lessons of Sesame Street to the larger story at the end, the Muppet stuff felt more like something the show did just because Lawrence and Co. thought it’d be fun. Nothing wrong with that, and the bits were funny on their own (and rightfully confined to the J.D. fantasy scenes), but I’m not sure they were entirely necessary either.
The episode worked well enough on its own, though, as J.D., Elliot and Cox all tried to take interns under their wings and were all less than entirely successful at it. Elliot chooses neurotic suckup Katie because she sees herself in the younger woman (“and we have the same hair”), but doesn’t realize that Katie’s a little more calculating and manipulative than she’ll ever be. Cox can put up with all of Ed’s stoner-goofball shenanigans but can’t stand that he doesn’t try as hard as he could.
And J.D., who wants a little more “feminine energy” in his life, ends up with Denise, who’s about as empathetic as a bag of hammers. Here’s how she gets a cancer patient’s wife to agree to a do not resuscitate order: “If you make us intubate, we’re going to have to shove a catheter in there too, which will probably cause an infection. And then with all the antibiotics, his kidneys will be toast. You’ll finally sign it, but by then he will have suffered way more than he needed to.” Um, yeah. Nice touch there.
On that framework hung several great lines and exchanges, including Carla trying to figure out why Cox hates Ed — “Does he say ‘back in the day’? Does he say ‘back in the dizay?’ … Does he like Hugh Jackman?” — Cox doing a caveman grunt at the interns to save time and Cox and the Janitor’s exchange about how they don’t hate indiscriminately. “That’s so true,” the janitor notes. “I only hate those who have wronged me, like if they stole my stuff or put a penny in the door, or … that guy. Did you see the look he just gave us?”
The last shot we see is of Katie, Ed and Denise exiting as the three more experienced doctors look on and shrug. “It’s gonna be a long year,” Elliot sighs. Katie and Ed are done for the night, but Denise will be back in …
Episode 2 – “My Cookie Pants”
J.D.’s ongoing attempts to make Denise act even a little human continue here, but the focus is more squarely on the long-time regulars, as Elliot freaks out about her upcoming big night with J.D. and turns to Turk for advice, and Cox does the self-sabotaging thing he does when he’s offered Kelso’s old job as chief of medicine.
Turk’s ongoing attempts to avoid giving Elliot advice on how to make her night with J.D. “special” were a highlight of the episode with me (along with the repeated use of the phrase “cookie pants”). Sarah Chalke and Donald Faison have an underrated chemistry, so it’s always fun to watch Elliot fling her towering neuroses at the always unwilling and occasionally outright scared Turk.
In this case, Elliot — still in her cookie pants, without makeup and hair unbrushed (“You look … pretty,” Turk offers) — tracks Turk down on her day off and badgers him up and down the halls of Sacred Heart trying to find out how to have really good sex with J.D. And OK, yeah, I’d be really really really and then really uncomfortable some more if I were asked for that kind of information about my best friend, but when she finally breaks his resolve, his advice is actually pretty sage: Get the hell over yourself and just be with each other. And wouldn’t you know, it works.
Now, I’ve never been a big J.D.-Elliot ‘shipper, but nor have I been dreading a final coupling between them. Scrubs is handling their latest hookup pretty well, I think, and as long as that’s the case and it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the show, I’m in.
Likewise, I’m down with whatever contrivance (lifetime muffin supply works) that keeps Kelso around, especially now that Dr. Cox is taking over as chief of medicine. Kelso’s anti-pep talk and their subsequent sort-of bonding were fantastic, all the more so for Kelso’s deadpan/desperate attempts to do buddy things with Perry: “You want to come over for a brewski and check out my hobby shop?” “Too fast, Bob.” “Yeah, I knew it when I said it.”
Cox as chief could be a very interesting line to pursue in the coming episodes, as he has to deal with all the bureaucratic nonsense he hates about medicine face to face. I can picture an epic Coxian blowout in the not-very-distant future.
The J.D.-Denise thread also takes kind of an interesting turn, as he lets her off the hook for being unable to relate to patients after she makes a correct call in ordering an invasive test for a patient who turns out to have stomach cancer. His relenting pisses her off to no end, which leads to her copping to the fact that she’s never been comfortable opening up to people, even her own family. J.D., though, wisely tells her that she needs to work that out for herself because he has his own issues. Much of the comedy of Scrubs comes from J.D. being a man-child, but I like the trend of him acting more grown-up.
More stuff from both episodes:
– My favorite line of the night probably belongs to Elliot, in her response to J.D.’s comment about needing “feminine energy”: “Like the stuff that seeps out of every pore in your body? … You knew [Cox] was going to say it; I thought it would hurt less coming from me.”
– Also very much enjoyed the reactions to J.D. actually sending the picture of Izzie’s first potty poop to everyone. Janitor: “They’re back.” Cox: “Jack’s are bigger.” Ed: “Just found my new screensaver.”
– Let me reiterate: PG-13 Elmo = funny. I’m a little surprised the Sesame Street people let Scrubs get away with Elmo burying his face in Denise’s chest, but I’m glad they did.
– Cookie pants vs. muffin slacks: Which way do you lean?
– It turns out The Todd’s absence was only a brief one. He popped up in the second episode two weeks ago, and tonight he appeared in both shows, administering a “Grover five” in the first and a really gross sexual reference in the second. Welcome back five.
– Still liking the new interns, but at this point they’re better as complementary characters. I liked tonight’s second episode more than the first, and I think a lot of that had to do with it sticking mostly with the veterans.
How’d you like this week’s dose of Scrubs? Are you OK with the recoupling of J.D. and Elliot, and what do you think of Cox’s prospects as the new chief?