17
May
2009
Feature: Scrubs Retrospective
Requiem For A Sitcom
Jordan
Last week marked the end of Scrubs, a sitcom I had been watching religiously (if not always joyfully) since I was in seventh grade. It's always sad to watch a show go, especially a sitcom in an era that isn't exactly kind to comedies. The show had its low points, and certainly jumped the shark when it allowed three characters to become pregnant in one episode (and I will never forgive Elizabeth Banks for her role in that catastrophe) yet in its prime it was one of the funniest shows on television and certainly a bright spot in my week.
The show told the story of the eccentric J.D. (Zach Braff) and his early years as a doctor at Sacred heart Hospital. Always at his side were his best friend Turk (Donald Faison) and his on-again-off-again love interest Elliot (Sarah Chalke). Complicating his efforts to excel were a heartless Chief of Medicine (Ken Jenkins), a vengeful Janitor (Neil Flynn) and a cynical mentor (John C. McGinley). Scrubs always managed to mix the right amount of zany comedy (often brought in through J.D.'s fantasies) and heartfelt moments, both between the characters and with patients. And, at the end of the day (as J.D. want wont to say) the characters usually learned a life lesson as well.
In the early days (while Sam and I may disagree, I maintain that Scrubs was consistently very good through its first five seasons, before that baby-related shark jump in the season five finale) you could always count on the show for quick, quirky writing and excellent performances by the main cast, especially the always under-rated John C. McGinley who brought the perfect amount of pathos to his character while endlessly torturing the rest of the cast with overdrawn, and usually hilarious, rants. How McGinley managed to walk away from this show without a single Emmy is a miracle to me, though it also shocks me that the show never took home the Best Comedy Series prize back in its prime.
As much as I could stay mired in a discussion of Scrubs during its heyday, it's also important in my eyes to look at how things ended. The finale was nearly perfect, which made me happy as the rest of this season rarely rose above mediocre. In the closing episodes, J.D. moved 40 minutes away to be closer to his son and decided to take a job at a nearby hospital. The Janitor had been married off in a recent episode and Ted the sad-sack lawyer decided to move in with his girlfriend, tying off a few of the smaller plotlines. In terms of the largest lingering thread, J.D. and Elliot, the show's writers were on the money when they introduced a running gag about how no one cared about Elliot and J.D. as a couple anymore, yet the final episode still gave them some nice moments.
The big question going into the finale for me was how the final moment between J.D. and Dr. Cox would play out. I hoped almost as much as J.D. that he would get that hug he'd been angling at for eight long years and that Dr. Cox would finally give J.D. the respect he'd earned. This moment was played perfectly, with J.D. using one of the interns to set Dr. Cox up, allowing the closed-off cynic to open up about J.D. without betraying his character just to satisfy the fans. The show also surprised me with J.D.'s fantasy flash-forward, which allowed us to see a lot of the moments yet to come for the group. Watching J.D. and Elliot get married and seeing Elliot pregnant actually killed my apathy toward them and made me feel the requisite warm fuzzies at the idea of these two really ending up together. The real clincher for me in the final moments was the scene of the whole gang, Dr. Cox and Jordan included, gathering for Christmas. The idea that these characters would stay close was important to me, and seeing that, even if it was only in J.D.'s mind, closed off the series in a way that was both realistic and satisfying.
Scrubs has given me a lot of good over the years. The relationship between Turk and J.D. was everything you could ask for, a perfect example of "guy love" in the age before the word "bromance" was ever created. I loved watching Dr. Cox and Jordan, both too cynical and emotionally closed-off to admit their love (and in fact, Jordan telling Dr. Cox she loved him in the Bahamas was one of the bright spots in Season 8). But most of all I just loved watching these characters interact and live their crazy, emotionally stunted lives. Scrubs wasn't always great, but I loved it anyway, and it will truly be missed.
Tags: Scrubs
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