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Scrubs is a comedy about John "J.D." Dorian, a young doctor who begins his first job at Sacred Heart Hospital in California. The show is narrated from JD's perspective as he learns lessons about how to survive in a touch but rewarding career. NBC 2001-08. ABC 2009-10.


Episode 5 - My ABC's

26 March 2012

Synopsis: JD, Dr Cox and Elliott choose new interns to become their personal protégé’s or lackeys. JD tries to help Denise relate better to her patients, Elliott tries to help Katie get by in a mans world and Dr Cox tries to work out why he hates Ed.

The Good: The back to basics approach of Scrubs this season finally pays off here. We get a proper introduction to the three new interns’ personalities and their interaction with the established characters makes for interesting viewing.

JD and Denise have a really enjoyable chemistry. Her complete lack of emotion is reminiscent of JD’s relationship with Dr Cox. And just like their team work it is Denise’s matter of fact approach which helps Mrs Fremont come to terms with the imminent death of her husband. Not only is the structure of their interaction solid but the whole story plays out logically. Denise shows us who she is early on, being a strong woman who is tired of pretending otherwise. JD wants her to care more so throws her in the deep end and Carla steps in to point out what a traumatic thing it should be for Denise to ask for the DNR order. But of course Denise handles it without breaking a sweat and it is the more sensitive JD who ends up in tears over the loss of a patient.

Not only do we get a real sense of who Denise is, but she seems so much more believable when the writers aren’t shoving deeply inappropriate comments in her mouth. Instead the humour flows from who she is. So when JD gives her the nickname Jo (from The Facts of Life) she doesn’t seem impressed “It’s just a little butch. I like banging dudes.” To which JD of course replies “I hear that’s nice.”

Despite the continuity problem (see The Bad), Elliott’s relationship with Katie is similarly enjoyable. In Katie, Elliott sees herself and the story is simply that Katie will have to learn all the same lessons that career-minded, cold Elliott had to learn back in season one. Again the humour flows out of Elliott’s scatter brain “You’re just under so much pressure, I’ve been there…oh my God my first week here I totally screwed my best friend JD just to look good in rounds. Well not literally screwed, I mean yes, later we did it but that was for totally different reasons and honestly it’s been talked to death. But we are dating again - don’t tell anyone.” Katie plays her disingenuous reactions pretty well.

Finally Dr Cox hates Ed because he is lazy which is logical and develops slowly over the episode where the viewer can see it for themselves. The humour again works nicely as Dr Cox foolishly seeks counsel from the Janitor because he thinks he understands hatred. Instead the Janitor proves his irrationality by claiming that he only hates people who have wronged him before hating random people walking past him.

The Sesame Street guest appearances are fun (see Comic Highlight) but their inclusion isn’t side splitting. Nor does it adequately drive home the real moral punch line of Scrubs which is if Doctors don’t work their absolute hardest, people die.

The Bad: This was actually the first episode written for this season. I don’t know all the machinations which go on between ABC and the producers of Scrubs. I can sympathise with their desire to get Courtney Cox in the season premiere. But the interns get a proper introduction in this episode and this would have made a superior season opener. Assuming that characterisation is what you value. Certainly the events of this episode seem slightly out of place with the interns character development so far. The major example being Carla’s heart to heart with Katie (803) which seems to have been completely forgotten here. Also JD and Elliott getting back together doesn’t get any focus at all.

Dr Cox really needed to explain to Ed why being lazy was a bad thing. As it was Ed didn’t seem too bad a guy for doing his work and then relaxing. But long time fans know Dr Cox has a speech about people dying and Doctors ruining lives in the bank and the writers chose not to use it. The time may come soon though. Ed shouldn’t be listening to his ipod in the middle of a meeting though, it’s too unrealistic.

Comic Highlight: Of all the Muppets to get a cameo, it’s Elmo who gets the sex joke. JD imagines that Elmo teaches Denise to be more sensitive to patients and they all celebrate. Elmo and Denise hug and Elmo seems a little excited. “Ok easy buddy” JD says to which Elmo replies in his high pitched inquisitive voice “What she’s your woman?!”

Diagnosis: Giving proper characterisation to the new interns transforms this attempt to tell an old Scrubs tale anew. Suddenly you feel the emotional reactions of the main characters and understand their relationships with the new ones. The jokes flow more easily from well established behaviour and the Sesame Street crossover was a nice change of pace. Much better.



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