First off, don’t dismiss this right away.
I love ‘Scrubs’, I really do! And I’ve recently watched all eight seasons again (for the umptieth time), only this time back to back. One season end, remove disc and insert next one – repeat until done.
I didn’t watch the ninth season.
In fact I’ve never watched it, and I’ve actually made a point of not watching a single episode of it.
Not because it’s bad (I mean, how could I know, I’ve never seen it!), but because for some weird reason I got it into my head that the quite touching double-episode-that-summed-everything-up finale of season eight was where the series ended.
-It’s crazier than Hooch, I know!
I’ve read comments about the ninth season being a blasfemy, something that never should have been. I don’t know if I agree, though. It has its existential right, as does most tv shows, good or bad. But I would, if I could – and I can, object to it being the ninth season, because there is no ninth season. The tv-show ‘Scrubs’ ended after eight seasons, and thus all anything following that could ever hope to be was Something Else.
So, ‘Scrubs’ ended with season eight, but it was done long before that.
When rackning my brain on how to deconstruct the series, I find it hard to do so with season one. If for no other reason than that it is a well constructed piece of television. Not pieces, not seperate episodes – even though they of course are – but more like one glorious whole. [insert tacky The Todd-pun here]
It effortlessly follows J.D. (for the most part anyway) through his first year as a med-student, and subtly but effectively introduces the show’s main characters, and give them all specific tasks to handle throughout the story.
My favourite character that first year is Bob Kelso, because even when you rewatch that first episode, knowing what you know, he still seem to be this nice old man… All the way up until his eyes turn red and he catches on fire as he growls “ANSWER ME!” to the petrified J.D.
I also liked the idea of The Janitor only being a figment of J.D’s imagination, a thought that the first season actually allow you to entertain.
I know Bill Lawrence likes to trash his own early work with ‘Scrubs’, among other things poiting out the over-use of sound effects. But I like it, and that thick layer of sound effects is the perfect bridge between the quirky ‘Scrubs’ and it’s older sibling, the much quirkier and terribly outdated ‘Parker Lewis Can’t Lose’ (come on, PL-fans, don’t tell me you never thought about it!).
In the second season the pace is sometimes higher, and the story lines sometimes more complex, but the season still gives the characters free room to develop further. The fantasy sequences are more elaborate, but for the most part kept within a reasonable time-frame. All in all the second season has more “pop”, and is easily the most rewatchable in the entire series.
Even though some episodes stand out, the full, twenty-two episode story is consistent enough to make it more rewarding to see the whole thing from start to finish, than picking it apart, searching through the box of gems, just to try and find the ones that are slightly larger.
The perk with the second season is that my favourite character (not counting the Colin Hay cameo in the opening episode) is introduced; J.D’s older brother, Dan. Now, this is a character that I hated – with every fibre of my body – for a very long time. But, when rewatching the whole series I’ve come to the conclusion that not only is Dan such a wonderful screwup, and such a horrible, horrible person – but he makes no excuses for it. None what so ever! AND he actually learns not only from his own mistakes, but also from the low-brow criticism his cowardly brother offers up, mostly instead of the casual “good bye”. Point being, Dan is a jerk and you hate him, but within just a few fleeting moments (seven episodes in as many years) he transforms – and believably so – until you not only start to like him, but you wish he was your older brother!
The third season has moments that are nothing short of perfection, and it would be my favourite of the eight, if it wasn’t for the fact that it starts off the seemingly never ending cirkus that is J.D’s commit-o-phobia (most noticable in the season finale, where he has spent all of twenty episodes doing everything in his power to become Elliot’s boyfriend – only to immediately after succeding realize he doesn’t want her). The very pointless and annoying to’ing and fro’ing keeps this third installment of the show from being as consistent as the second. In other words, it is no longer worth watching the entirety of the season, and therefore not only tempting but more or less recommended to sift through that gem-box.
The gems in this case being the two episodes guest starring a brilliant Michael J. Fox, as Dr. Kevin Casey. Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence (co-creator of ‘Spin City’) has tried to have as many stars as possible from his former series make guest appearances on ‘Scrubs’. Michael J. Fox was, as far as I’ve understood it, right at the top of his wish list. His performance stick in your head, long after you finished watching him (my screensaver still, to this day, consists of just the one word, in 3D-block letters, bouncing around on the screen; ‘BINK’). The two episodes has the audacity to mix tragedy and humor in such a way that you might actually start watching a scene laughing – only to finish it crying.
Besides those two gems, the fourteenth episode, ‘My Screwup’, is almost a movie in itself. It continues a story that started in season two, in which the character Ben Sullivan, a friend to almost everyone, is diagnosed with leukemia. In this episode he returns, and is not progressing the way he should. If you are even the slightest bit invested in these characters, I dare anyone to watch this episode and not fall apart as it draws towards the inevitable end.
There, that was the first three seasons of ‘Scrubs’.
I have no problem defining all of the above as an extremely funny, ridiculously over-the-top medical show that – because it takes place in a hospital, where life and death always fight over top billing – has real elements of serious drama and tragedy attached to it. Tragedy made all the more poignant by the fact that the show otherwise is so very silly.
I know, it’s a mouthful, but I’ll stand by it!
After the third season, however, it became little more than just a sit-com.
And not always a very good one at that.
The fourth season not only introduced a lot more humor, but it did so at the expense of many of the serious bits. And that’s where it went wrong, because it’s not a one way street! I mean, sure, the tragedy is given more impact by the lighthearted sillyness, but the laughter is more appreciated when it occasionally functions as a sort of ice-breaker after a tragic moment.
Take away the tragedy, and all you have is a laughter, that much sooner than you think becomes more of a reflex than an actual laugh.
The fantasy sequences are overly long and sometimes beyond ridiculus – even for this show!
The fourth season is also the one in which Bill Lawrence started the tradition of having one “extra special” show, I guess to give the particual season it’s own signature. Somewhere I can’t help thinking that even he realized that the seasons from this moment on would no longer be memorable, unless he made at least one episode stand out.
Now, I’ve got to hand it to him, some of those “special” episodes in the later seasons are brilliant! In this fourth one however, the episode ‘My Life In Four Cameras’, in which J.D spends half the episode day dreaming that he is in a 70’s/80’s sit-com, complete with a one-stage set, live studio audience and an incredulous story line, does very little to deflect the spotlight from the fact that this (the cheesy laugh-track comedy) is what ‘Scrubs’ is becoming.
There are tragic moments in this season aswell, but they are tucked away so far underneath the layers upon layers of “fun”, that it almost feels like the creators of the show suddenly became embarrassed about them and tried to hide them.
The one reason to stick this in your dvd player, is to watch the episode ‘My Cake’, once again featuring J.D’s brother Dan, who shows up telling J.D their father died. An episode almost on par with the Fox-episodes in season three.
In the fifth season a new batch of interns is thrust upon the main characters. This, of course, gives the show an opportunity to try and pawn off the humor on other people (a necessity, since the main characters by this time has gotten quite annoying, making it increasingly hard to laugh at things they say). But new faces or not, it doesn’t help at all, and the fifth season would probably have wound up being totally forgotten – had it not been for the previously mentioned “extra special” show.
The standout this season is ‘My Way Home’, the series 100th episode. In it Elliot has doubts about her knowledge in her own medical specialty, Turk tries to get a family to donate their deceased son’s heart, Carla feels that she lacks the courage to become a parent and J.D, that has a day off but is lured back to the hospital, is just trying to find his way back home again… Yes, of course it is ‘The Wizard Of Oz’, ‘Scrubs’-style.
The episode, directed by Zach ‘J.D’ Braff, is absolutely brilliant, and well worth watching several times over – if for no other reason than to just count all the ‘Oz’-references! At the end you are rewarded with Ted’s Band (played by the acapella group The Blanks) performing a beautiful rendition of ‘Somewhere Over The rainbow’.
But, one episode does not a season make, and the very rewatchable 100th episode is unfortunately all there is to this fifth part of the series. Not even the tension grabber that is the episodes ‘My Lunch’ and ‘My Fallen Idol’ stands a chance, and is lost forever in the mess of the remaining twenty one episodes.
The sixth season is basically season five again, but with a different “extra special” show. This time it is a musical (aptly titled ‘My Musical’), in which a patient is brought in, suffering from brain aneurysm – she hears singing instead of talking. Cue a vast amount of song- and dancenumbers, all actually sung by the real cast (which in some cases is more than just a little impressive). Just like the 100th episode, ‘My Musical’ is rewatchable to the point of one knowing the silly songs by heart (‘Everything comes down to poo’, ‘Guy love’ and the ‘Dr.Cox’s rant-song’ is forever seared into my brain)!
But just as in the previous season, the one fabulous episode doesn’t make the whole thing better. You might stick it into your dvd-player again, but if I had to guess, it would probably only be to watch just the one show.
The seventh season suffered to no end from the writers strike. The 22-25 episodes one had gotten used to was reduced to a mere eleven. And I guess Bill Lawrence, knowing that the show would be put on hiatus due to the invaluble, but striking, writers, decided that the “extra special” show he had planned – ‘My Princess’, in which the cast is part of a medieval bed time story of knights and princesses, would be the season finale. So, he placed it last! Nevermind that the last episode included Bob Kelso being the Chief of Medicin, even though he retired from Sacred Heart some episodes earlier.
I don’t know why this bothered me so much, but it did – and does. Maybe it’s because ‘Scrubs’, by having it’s episodes moved around to fit the creators sudden whim, actually admits to itself, and it’s audience, that it as a whole no longer matters. And that it figures that if the individual pieces are interesting enough no one will care about little insignificant things, such as continuity.
But the pieces aren’t interesting enough, and people do care!
The eight, and final, season is also cut a bit short, with only nineteen episodes. It also tries to suddenly break away from a seven year long tried and tested formula – end credits set to stills and music. In this season the episodes squeeze in some quasi-funny tidbit (or worse: outtakes!) during the credits. More often than not these tiny moments are far to self aware to be even close to fun. Already in the first episode J.D spends the credit roll telling his colleagues that they need to step up their game, because people depend on them on a weekly basis, and it would be good for them come “Medical Awards Season”, because “Dr.Shaloub” seem to win everything. So let’s see, referencing the weekly tv-viewers, the Emmy Awards Season and (I guess) their biggest competitor, Tony Shaloub, who plays the title character in the successfull series ‘Monk’.
Now, ‘Scrubs’ has broken the fourth wall before, but only on the odd occasion, and then only for a few seconds. This is something else, one episode into the eighth season and down come that wall – with some stupid tounge-in-cheek jokes about how they need to be better because people (i.e viewers) depend on them.
-Can you spell “Over Inflated Ego”?
The second episode is a surprisingly straight faced show about a man struggling to accept that he’s going to die, occasionally ruined by everything from unbelievable characters to J.D’s incessant babbling, and – as the credits roll – we get to watch an ad lib’ed take destroy any magic some of the scenes may have had.
And it just goes on from there…
The “extra special” show this time around is a double-feature where the main characters go to the Bahamas to be part of The Janitors wedding, ‘My Soul On Fire part 1’ and ‘2’. But the abundance of not-funny jokes (and the cheap shot of turning Bob Kelso into a full blown alcoholic) does nothing more than feed the thought that the invention of these two episodes is the creators way of getting a luxurious holiday, courtesy of ABC.
The only reasons to stick around for this one are the two episodes right at the end, titled ‘My Finale part 1’ and ‘2’. True, they are somewhat redundant, as they tie up lose ends that you after five abysmal seasons no longer care about. But I’m not exaggerating when I say that the final ten minutes of this double episode almost makes it worth having sat through seasons 4-8.
It starts with J.D envisioning his future (set to Peter Gabriels tear jearker ‘The Book Of Love’) and segues – via a brilliant cameo by series creator Bill Lawrence – into behind-the-scenes footage of people saying goodbye to each other as the season draws to an end – all set to an acapella (The Blanks again) rendition of the shows main theme, ‘I’m no Superman’ by Lazlo Bane.
Nobody could watch those two episodes in general, and those final ten minutes in particular, and then with a straight face claim that the series doesn’t end there…
So, why does ‘Scrubs’ suck?
Because it could have been so great, but fell short not only by a redundant follow up to it’s own finale, but by five (5!) whole seasons. ‘Scrubs’ isn’t just that visitor that overstayed it’s welcome, it’s that annoying freak lounging on your couch, eating potato chips, drinking beer and watching tv with the volume on full, while you’re in the next room trying desperately to sleep.
If there was a ‘The Best of Scrubs season 4-8’, I’d buy that in a second (sadly though, you could probably fit “the best” on one disc), but as things stand right now, I’m gonna hang on to the first three seasons of this show, and then think long and hard about whether or not to sell the other five, because quite frankly…I’m sick of them.
If you read this far, thanks!
For any frequent visitor who wonder why the hell I’ve written
this in english, all I can say is: BECAUSE I FELT LIKE IT!