Not just Scrubs

Nov. 12, 2003, midnight | By Josh Gottlieb-Miller | 20 years, 7 months ago

There's something of an obsession with simplicity in television. Straightforward cookie-cutter dramas and comedies are the ideal, while originality is not cost-efficient. The latest heroic show to fight this corporate mindset has arisen in the most unlikely blocks of television, NBC's Must See TV. Scrubs certainly is.

Consistently and cleverly inventive, Scrubs fantastic nature is grounded by storytelling's forgotten fundamentals: quality dialogue, plot, pacing and character development. A typical episode of Scrubs features multiple plotlines, all of them moving ahead at a quick clip, facilitating the show's rapid-fire succession of zingers. By balancing the ridiculous (singing in elevators, kidnapping stuffed animals) with the serious (relationships, personal growth), Scrubs gives every laugh a poignant little punch.

Scrubs great cast allows the writers to produce stunningly human characters. Protagonist Zach Braff's JD is lovably bumbling, the kind of hero who brings flowers for a girl, only to have them be overshadowed by her boyfriend's flowers. Or who has to run there because of a riddle by his nemesis the janitor ("Two guys [broke] your bicycle, one of them didn't have a bat.").

John Mcginley's hilariously brutal Dr. Cox meanwhile has his own battles to fight: while the guy is usually busy calling JD a girl or fighting the bureaucratic Dr. Kelso (the estimably evil Ken Jenkins), he occasionally has a little character development. One plotline has him trying to convince a pediatrician to look at his coughing baby son, leading to his kidnapping the man's puppets and sending him cut off hands until his demands were met. Sucking up his pride and begging the pediatrician for help, Dr. Cox shows his fatherly love trumps his pride.

Also amusing is couple Turk and Carla (Donald Faison and Judy Reyes) a nurse and surgeon whose relationship actually develops and changes over the course of the show, so far culminating in their engagement. Carla making Turk say "scalpel please" (instead of just "scalpel") in the emergency room is indicative of Scrubs goofy nature.

Still, there are certain bits that need to change. JD and Elliot's (Sarah Chalke) recurring relationship troubles eventually strain melodrama. JD's feud with the janitor (funny Neil Flynn) is also becoming repetitive.

Still, these are minor problems in an otherwise stellar show. Well directed, written and acted, this show wasn't made by any scrubs.

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