FROM JASON’S WEDNESDAY NIGHT — I’ve been saying I’m done with Scrubs for two years. After seeing the season premier tonight, I feel validated. It looks like ABC hasn’t decided to fix the problems that NBC allowed to fester.
I’ve been a fan of the show since it launched, and purchased the first four seasons on DVD. It’s always had heart, and at first the characters were novel. As I kept watching, everything stayed static. And if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
I had such hopes that jumping networks would pump some life into the series in its eighth season. But JD is still the bumbling, naive boy who always needs rescued by Turk or Dr. Cox. He still can’t hold down a relationship. He’s grown a beard, but he hasn’t gotten over his neediness or grown into his lab coat.
Great characters change. They confront their flaws and learn from their mistakes. They don’t keep taking the same pratfalls and doing the same nerd-who-doesn’t-fit-in-or understand-social-grace jokes. Instead of working to progress any of that, the writers have decided to put all their eggs in the “crazy new crop of interns screw up” basket of gags.
Turk is still JD’s macho ID; Elliot is still underconfident and self-obsessed; Carla is still the empathic support of the team; Dr. Cox is still the reluctant father. Arguably the most interesting and complicated character of the past three seasons, Dr. Kelso has retired but still hangs around the hospital. He’s been sadly marginalized so far.Taking his place as Chief of Medicine is Courtney Cox, hot as the sun and the last adrenal hope for the sitcom.
What the second half-hour of the premier did well, on the other hand, is tell a compelling story about a 70-year-old man scared to face death. Had the writers stuck with that story instead of throwing around cheap and not-so-funny intern jokes, the episode would have been near-perfect.
Where once I was a rabid fan, now I’m quite apathetic. I’m not sure ABC’s pick-up of Scrubs was a great choice, and I’m not sure this new season will garner any more than its previous five-or-so million viewers unless something drastic is done. Guest stars aren’t the answer. Stunts aren’t the answer. A larger cast isn’t the answer. Call-backs aren’t the answer.
Letting the characters move out of their safe zones is the answer.