Johncmcginley_scrubs_240Last spring on Scrubs, Dr. Kelso told Dr. Cox, "Oh Perry, you’re so edgy and cantankerous. You’re like House without the limp."

Cue falling paint can on Dr. Cox’s foot, and loookit: We have ourselves a nice little House homage on Thursday’s episode. It was one of the better episodes of the season for the crew from Sacred Heart, in part because the tips of the hat to that other doctor show didn’t dominate the proceedings. We also got some good J.D. fantasy action, serious Kelso crabbiness and, for good measure, the return of the Worthless Peons.

Our other main concern was J.D. trying to convince his pregnant girlfriend Kim from taking a position at another hospital. Aside from finding out that J.D. lifts his leg when he kisses, the story also let Zach Braff be goofier than he’s been for much of this season. His attempted perching on the trunk of a freshly waxed Mercedes was a marvel of subtle physical comedy; his run back to Kim after the car took off was a little less subtle. And I loved the airport fantasy ("there they are").

As for the House stuff, I’m on board pretty much anytime Cox gets to say something like "I know you all curl up on your futons at night, dreaming of cracking a real-life medical mystery so that some doctor-slash-supermodel will want to touch your eruption button." He then proceeds to note that "this isn’t a TV show, and there aren’t any cameras over here," waving in the direction of the camera filming that portion of the scene (ooh, meta).

Ah, but Sacred Heart has a couple of bona fide mysteries this week, including a young, otherwise healthy woman with heart failure and, because this is Scrubs, a dude who’s orange. They’re not that tough — nary a stray lupus diagnosis in sight — and all it takes is a little bit of keen observation for Cox to solve them, right after some of the Janitor’s paint cans fall on his foot and require him to walk with a cane ("Around here, sometimes you do wish it was more like TV …," J.D. narrates).

For good measure, Cox also explains to Turk why Elliot’s pissed at him (he and J.D. didn’t give her props for starting private practice — and by the way, has there been any talk of that this season? If so, I must’ve missed it).

Other highlights: Dr. Kelso’s explanation for his brushoff of Elliot ("Goodbye, Miss Mei Ling of Gentle Oriental Escorts, and goodbye, Dr. Reid"), his glee at the ritual of Turk handing over his paycheck to cover Carla’s post-pregnancy stay (although it seems a little odd that no one would have clued into her depression), and J.D.’s box of kittens fantasy, complete with side-effects disclaimer.

Kim’s departure was also a pretty elegant way to write Elizabeth Banks out of the show for a while. She should be back; I’m pretty sure she signed for 10 or 12 episodes this season, and this was only No. 4. This was easily the strongest episode so far this season; maybe the show is over its somewhat rushed start and will be back to its old, seriously funny self in the near future.

Posted by:Rick Porter