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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 2 - My Last Words

26 March 2012

Synopsis: JD and Turk give up on their special steak night to comfort a dying patient.

The Good: This is the most focussed and simple episode of Scrubs I have ever seen and I give the producers credit for trying something different. Perhaps to cut costs or just to try something new, we get no Dr Cox, no Carla, no Elliott and so on.

Instead JD and Turk remind us of their essential goodness by comforting George, a man waiting to die. George plays his role really well and the moment where he tears up after hearing how he will die is superbly acted. That moment brings home the simple tragedy of those who are told that they are going to die and have little else to take their mind off that fact. JD and Turk play off each other well and the overall message about the inescapable fear of death and the simple tactics to get past it is well delivered.

JD and Turk are believable as best friends and several jokes flow enjoyably from their dynamic (see Comic Highlight). JD reading Turk’s thoughts and kicking him because he needed punishment was an amusing idea as was JD’s insecure reaction to a jocular store clerk. Dr Maddox and Jordan going out together managed to be funny because one throwaway line was so absurd and yet somehow captured something appropriate about their situation. “Can we go? Cougars only drink free till 9” Jordan says, to which Maddox replies “What about MILF’s?” and Jordan says “Oh that’s right, I forgot I even had kids.”

The Bad: Dr Maddox being able to zero in on people’s insecurities is a word for word rip off for an ability given to Dr Molly Clock (played by fellow celebrity guest star Heather Graham in 404).

Denise’s inappropriate behaviour based on her inability to empathise with others is typically bad writing. The Scrubs writers are obsessed with creating characters who have obnoxious one-dimensional idiosyncrasies and far from being funny they have become irritating. Denise plays the part well, so with a bit more nuance and subtlety she could have been a good character. But instead she has a violent and degrading sex life to showcase. Hooray.

The problem here is that Scrubs doesn’t have a real point to make. Yes George’s story feels tragic and JD and Turk look like nice guys but there is nothing new or even interesting here beyond the generic message that death is tragic. In the fourth episode of the first season of Scrubs JD had to look after an elderly lady (Mrs Tanner) who was dying and JD had to cope with the prospect of death. We got to know Mrs Tanner so much better than we know George here and her story had a much more positive message and greater emotional resonance for JD. That episode also squeezed in stories about death for Turk and Elliott and was much funnier than this episode. The upshot as a viewer is at the end of this episode I don’t feel much beyond a sense that death is sad. Where as after the Mrs Tanner episode I had a real sense that I was watching a show with something to say and a clever and unique way of saying it.

Comic Highlight: JD imagines being stuffed and sitting on Turk and Carla’s floor alongside Rowdy. It’s an amusingly ridiculous idea (and visual) which fits with Rowdy’s long established presence on the show.

Diagnosis: A decent effort by the writers and actors to show the tragedy of death. But it’s a story they have told before with far greater skill.



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