Scrubbing Up

Scrubs never got any respect from NBC, but over the years it's earned mine. It took me a while to get into the show. One of my friends sang its praises from the beginning, but at the time it was in a bad timeslot against both 24(remember 24?) and Smallville. It's hard to believe all those shows were once on Tuesdays. I forget if I taped 24 and watched Smallville or vice versa, but Scrubs was something I caught bits of on intermissions. Out of context, the impact isn't there.

That Summer after the first season I'd catch up a bit, though Tuesday evening band rehearsals in July made me miss a few. Still, it grew on me. I identified with lovable loser J.D., who'd often escape the rigors of a stressful hospital job by escaping into Simpson-esque daydreams. In its prime, Family Guy might have wowed me with its rapid and obscure pop culture references, but Scrubs would do more than just reference. You never knew when Carrot Top, Jimmie “JJ” Walker or even the late, great Fred “Rerun” Berry would show up in one of J.D.'s fantasies. J.D. worked with his cooler, darker college pal Turk. At the time, I was still working with my cooler, darker college pal Rey. Of course, besides differing careers, there was one other significant difference since it was a television show. For every beautiful woman I couldn't get the nerve up to talk to or would invariable make a fool out of myself in front of, J.D. would make a fool of himself in front of gorgeous women he'd eventually charm, such as Sarah Chalke's Dr. Elliot Reid. He also suffered his share of undeserved (albeit humorous) torment, from both his mentor Dr. Cox and nemesis, the nameless Janitor. I know something about psychological torture as well.

The biggest hook for me wasn't the comedy or thin parallels I'd draw to me own life, at least not those things alone. There was a third dramatic element, the fact that we had to laugh because sooner or later, we are going to die. The show managed to provide comic relief for its darker moments, but many of those darker moments were unexpected sucker punches. Lines like “Where do you think we are?” or “What happened to your son, Denise?” literally flipped their respective episodes upside down and changed the tone of what I thought I was watching.

The first four seasons are probably the strongest, and while it slumped a bit in the fifth and improved slightly in the sixth, there were still gems to be found. Just as a single line could make an episode so much better, certain episodes redeemed entire seasons. Season seven was to be the last, though the Writer's Strike disrupted the planned 18 episodes. Only 11 were filmed, with 7 airing before the strike and the remaining 4 showing up throughout the past month. NBC was done with the show, and calling last week's episode a “finale” may have confused and disappointed some fans, especially since it was aired out of sequence and didn't reflect the departure of a hospital staffer in one episode and promotion of another in the next. They didn't add “season” or “series” to their description, because the show's not over. Bill Lawrence elaborates more in a recent TV Guide interview. (Hat Tip: Rey) There will an 18 episode eighth season, and it will air on ABC. ABC owned the show for years, but not the rights to air it for reasons beyond me. It does explain partially why NBC never promoted the show, moved it around a lot, and didn't air repeats.

I don't know what people did before the internet. I wouldn't know otherwise about the show's fate; I'd just think it ended on an abrupt and confusing note. How else would I know New Amsterdam was gone(boo) and Reaper was renewed(phew)? I guess I'd have to read magazines and newspapers and get my information the old-fashioned, printed way. As for Scrubs, hopefully it will get an uninterrupted and satisfying final season. Maybe the J.D. and Elliot relationship will rekindle and finally stick. Maybe we'll find out the Janitor's real name. As Homer said to his mother on this past week's Simpsons: “You keep disappearing and reappearing and it's not funny! You're just like that show ‘Scrubs.'”

One can hope he meant NBC's scheduling wasn't funny, as opposed to the show itself. Then again, Homer might not be bright enough to get all the jokes.


Blogger Lyndon said...

NBC has given it the run around long enough. I really hope that ABC gives the show a chance to shine for what looks like it's last season.

5/17/2008 3:04 AM  
Blogger Lorna said...

I can seldom find "Scrubs" because they keep changing botyh the time and day on the network that carries it here, but I love it when I see it. My daughter has a few of the seasons on DVD, so I can see myself watching when the snow flies...and I hope that's not tomorrow

5/17/2008 10:25 AM  
Anonymous sandgroper said...

Hooray!! Scrubs is back for another season! :D

I must live under a rock cos I had no idea and was feeling totally ripped off after the "finale".

Thanks for the news MCF - you made my day!! :)

5/17/2008 11:48 AM  

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