Listen up, people. Let's forget about Colonel Potter, Radar O’Reilly, and Corporal Klinger, kids, because Scrubs is the “new” After M*A*S*H for Generation X and its situational comedy soul. Not only that, but this (the seventh season) was supposed to be the show’s swan song, ending a fantastic seven-year run as one of the best comedies currently on network television (I refuse to call Scrubs “a sitcom” because that would be a slap to the face, like a cold, rather intrusive, rubber surgical glove dipped in petroleum jelly and inserted in any unwelcome place).
But as a fan of Scrubs from the very beginning, I refuse to live in a television universe without a proper resolution for this band of wacky doctors, nurses, surgeons, and other assorted “cut-ups” who have inhabited Sacred Heart Hospital (and my living room) for these last seven seasons.
If this current crop of new television programming wasn’t bad enough (I mean, come on, isn’t Eli Stone just Ally McBeal with testicles?), the writer' strike in Hollywood has made mincemeat out of most of my favorite shows this season. Sure, I’ll always have Scrubs (and hours and hours of pure bliss) in syndication and on DVD — but where’s my happy ending? What will happen to Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian (Zach Braff) and his assorted Whitman’s Sampler of medical zanies now?
Scrubs managed to fire off a few episodes at the start of the 2007 season featuring the birth of J.D.’s son, Sam, but that was just the beginning (signaling his troubled transition into adulthood), with no middle nor end in sight. Dr. Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins) was last seen sulking in his office after he was notified that he would be soon sent packing as Sacred Heart’s salty Chief of Medicine because of his advanced age. After Elliot (Sarah Chalke) cuddled up with J.D. in last year‘s season finale, she no sooner dumped her boy toy, Keith (Travis Schuldt), at the altar to further intensify the comedy chaos in the waiting room. Hot damn, even “The Janitor” (Neil Flynn) was starting to score with a “Lady” of his own — before the strike pulled the proverbial plug on the best comedy of the 21st century.
Sure, The Office is often funny, even hilarious and brilliant at times, but, despite its sterling cast, it can also feel as stifling as a corporate cubical on certain occasions. 30 Rock basically revolves around the beautifully awkward tension exhibited between Alec Baldwin and Tina Fey with ambitious writing that is too convoluted for the casual viewer. (Don’t believe that theory? Well, rest in peace, Arrested Development.)
But that’s where Scrubs (Paging Dr. Dorian! Paging Dr. Reid and Turk! Paging Dr. Cox and Kelso!) rightfully, um, “scrubs in” to save the day, so to speak, like a splendid shot of Zoloft to the funny bone. While M*A*S*H became painfully morbid after the end of its third season (with its initial cast of merry medical malcontents soon departing), Scrubs has stuck together through thick and thin – living on to deliver much-need emergency room laughs week after week, while keeping the “dramedy” to a pitch-perfect “out patient” basis (while it playfully pokes fun at such "competition" like Grey's Anatomy and House - as if, people!).
Hawkeye had a faithful sidekick, Trapper John, his steady stream of martinis, and a revolving door of nurses to combat the madness of war. Scrubs’ main protagonist, J.D., uses appletinis and his “bromance” with best friend and surgical resident, Christopher Turk (Donald Faison), to opine about his failed love life – whether it be with Turk splitting time with his other wife, head nurse Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes), the on-again, off-again relationship with Dr. Elliot Reid or his delirious “daddy issues” with his mentor and sarcastic fallen idol, Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley).
While many may shun the spastic Airplane!-simulated humor of Scrubs, with creator Bill Lawrence (Spin City) at the helm, the talented stable of writers has the “situations” of this comedy completely anchored in reality (well, except for a few, um, far out daydreams by J.D. – you know, every once in awhile). Sure, these characters are flawed to the core – but that’s what makes them ultimately believable and, in essence, relatable to every generation, young and old alike. There is more “reality” to these characters than any housewife on some semi-staged Bravo show, in Orange County or otherwise. Got that, Shirley?
And even though the star of Scrubs, Zach Braff, seems to get all the accolades, it’s the diverse ensemble cast that keeps you cracking up on every possible ethnic, sexual, and demographic level. Donald Faison (“Turk”) embraces his African-American heritage while simultaneously bashing any and all stereotypes along the way – he’s a successful surgeon who never shies away from his love for The Jeffersons and basketball (but yet finds time to embrace such “white folk follies” as the front man for a Journey air band, gabbing about Gilmore Girls with his best friend in the world, J.D., and dancing to his 'N Sync cell phone greeting in the meantime). Don’t stop — believing!
So, while I have the podium, let it also be known that I believe it is a true television crime that John C. McGinley ("Dr. Perry Cox") and Ken Jenkins ("Dr. Bob Kelso") have never been (at the very least) nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy for their work at Sacred Heart. Whether it’s Dr. Cox’s often hilarious diatribes to J.D. (“Newbie”) and Elliot (“Barbie”), or Dr. Kelso’s subtle-yet-delightfully-sour deadpan delivery as he chases Asian Internet hookers and the high-score in Ms. Pac-Man, these two actors are so scathingly funny that I often feel the need to be stitched up from the numerous belly laughs generated by them on any given episode. The rest of the supporting cast is nothing to sneeze at either (yes, I'm looking at you, Ted the hospital attorney and Perry's ex-wife, Jordan).
To paraphrase Dr. Cox: "So, Britney, Lindsay, Sally Jesse, Dame Judi, Oprah, Betty and/or Veronica, listen up, because I'm only going to say this once: As the long-standing joke known only as the Emmy nominations committee, could you puh-leeze take some time out of your oh-so-busy day and give these talented thespians some kudos for their work? Could you do that for me, Wilma?"
So, at this time, Scrubs will return to Thursday nights on NBC for at least five new episodes starting April 10 – but that diagnosis is simply not good enough (for this pathological patient anyway) before it checks out for the last time. Scrubs needs to go out with a bang – not a whimper – to satisfy the cult-like clan of comedy fans of this “sacred” show that have faithfully supported it all these many years.
There are rumors swirling out there that ABC is reportedly in negotiations to pick up Scrubs for another eighth season – and a full slate of 22 episodes. That, it seems, is the kind of “bedside manner” needed to keep any fans of this comedy off life support in the meantime. Regardless, as my last will and testament to inspired humor, I want to truly thank the gang at Sacred Heart Hospital for reviving a once-dead corpse — the situation comedy.
But the chart, in the end, says it all: Scrubs is one of the best shows on television.