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Scrubs

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.

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Episode 1 - My Jerks

26 March 2012

Synopsis: The new chief of medicine (Courtney Cox) arrives and fires the Janitor. Dr Cox is convinced she is a jerk and eventually is proven right. JD is struggling with his new interns because of their bad attitude and behaviour. Elliott is worried when her friends tell her she has been self absorbed and whiny.

The Good: A new season of Scrubs on a new network (having switched from NBC to ABC) but the same old story. There are glimmers of positives from this approach.

Seeing JD leading a group of new interns does remind you of the development of the show. We have seen him be the student, then we saw him learning to be the teacher. Now the teaching is second nature and he has become jaded and tired just as those who taught him seemed. This point could have been made better than it is but at least Dr Cox gets to share JD’s pain for once. The use of a “mini-Elliott” amongst the interns is a nice touch to show the hospitals cycle of life coming around again.

It’s a real surprise to see Elliott apologise to Keith. With the move to a new network I was surprised to see so much of the show’s past incorporated into the episode (including Dr Kelso and Josephine the high pitched voice doctor). Keith deserved that apology after Elliot’s cruel treatment of him so I give the writers credit for that.

Kelso still being around is one of the reasons that Scrubs isn’t a good show. Nothing of any consequence happens in the story. Kelso may not be chief of medicine anymore but it looks like he will play a full part this season. For a show which ends each episode with a “moral of the story”, nothing ever seems to really change. But I am putting this in the good column anyway because Kelso is probably still the funniest character in the show and so I’d rather he stick around for the odd laugh.

Elliot saying “Thanks Mum” when Dr Maddox hugs her is one of those rare genuine comic moments flowing from Elliot’s well established maternal issues.

The Bad: Elliott’s story is as thin and pointless as most Scrubs stories. People tell her she is self involved. She apologises to Keith and Carla and that’s it. The premise that she has been self involved for the last year or so falls flat. Do any Scrubs fans remember the difference between Elliott’s behaviour last season and all the seasons before that? And indeed hasn’t she always been whiny and self involved? It just seems like an irrelevant story that is solved with no effort.

JD telling his interns that he is done with them seems ridiculous. Surely it’s his job to teach them and he doesn’t have the option not to. It’s a worthless threat and doesn’t present a dilemma that anyone should care about.

Courtney Cox plays Dr Maddox about as well as you would expect. The writers certainly weren’t interested in writing a well rounded or interesting character. They seem to have just made her a generic (but friendly) evil authority figure. We are given no clue as to why she takes such joy in rinsing a guy for his insurance money. There is no attempt to humanise that behaviour, but perhaps in subsequent episodes we will get more. Her hatred of spiders is one of those irritating Scrubs characteristics to enable normal conversations to be spiced up by irrational behaviour. The big problem with her is just that she feels temporary. There seems no way such a big star would stay with Scrubs for long so why should we care about her at all?

And finally there is the usual litany of problems with the structure of the show. It’s a show which every week runs a morality story. The writers must expect you to care about the characters and their lives or else they wouldn’t show JD and Elliott coming to terms with difficult issues in their lives. But if they want us to care about characters then they have to base the show in the real world. Because when stuff happens which is completely unreal it undermines any serious point they make. I also maintain that 9 out of 10 jokes which have no basis in reality aren’t funny because they jar against the context of the real world they are set in. So the janitor gets fired for tripping JD up – fine, that makes sense. But then Maddox sees Ted carrying a gun in his brief case and doesn’t bat an eyelid. A gun in a hospital? Yes that wouldn’t cause any trouble. Then there is the impossible idea of a key which can open any lock, a doctor calling her interns “bitches” in front of patients and an orderly who gropes people in a manner which would get him arrested in five minutes.

Comic Highlight: Having made inappropriate comments about Dr Maddox’ vagina, JD is on edge around her. She orders him to run some renal tests on a patient and asks “Can you do that or do you have more questions about my vagina?” In his head JD quickly shouts “LIE!” and says aloud “No.”

Diagnosis: New network but same old Scrubs. At the end of the episode a little skit aired where JD talked about the show with Elliot and Turk essentially saying they are going to go on churning out the same television despite their low ratings and lack of critical success. While neither should be the sole judge of a show, the fact that Zach Braff and company don’t realise the flaws in what they are producing is sad.

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