Scrubs season eight - An early look
by Joel Keller, posted Nov 11th 2008 1:54PM
A lot of people -- fans included -- wonder how Scrubs has managed to get to an eighth season. After all, things weren't breaking its way at the end of what was supposed to be its seventh and final season: the writers' strike truncated the season, its network (NBC) no longer wanted the show, and, though the writing quality had picked up by the time the seventh season was cut short, it had declined enough that even the show's most ardent fans were wondering if it was time to put the show out of its misery.
But thanks to the efforts of Bill Lawrence and ABC Studios, Scrubs does live on, this time on ABC. And, after viewing the first two episodes of the new season, I'm happy to say that going to an eighth season was worth it. Lawrence told me that he wanted to get back to the humor and storytelling basics of the early seasons, and the episodes I saw show evidence of that.
The first of the two episodes, "My Jerks," is the more goofy of the two and involves the entire cast. We find out what happened to Dr. Kelso, who was forced into retirement, and we get a little bit of closure on Elliot's relationship with Keith. We're also introduced to Kelso's replacement as chief of medicine, the seemingly nice Dr. Taylor Maddox (Courteney Cox), and a bunch of new interns.
The interns -- who may form the basis for a "Next Generation" ninth season -- are highlighted by the uncaring Denise (Eliza Coupe) and the lazy-as-hell Ed (Aziz Ansari). They fit in well, showing how J.D., Turk and Elliot have come full circle from their early days as interns who tortured the hell out of Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso on a daily basis. Ansari, who's part of Human Giant and slated to be in the Office spin-off-that's-not-a-spin-off, is especially good as the nonchalant Ed. Hopefully, they'll be integrated more into the ensemble as time goes on.
The second episode, "My Last Words," illustrates two things that we're going to see a lot of this season: episodes that don't include the entire cast, and storytelling that has more to do with how J.D. and company deal with medical issues rather than the nuttiness that's going on in their outside lives. The first is a cost-cutting measure that Lawrence and the cast talked about at the TCAs. The second is something that Lawrence has wanted to get back to for quite awhile.
Last season, Lawrence told me, they were trying to get back to the more hospital-focused stories, but "I still don't think that we were dealing with these guys as medical professionals on the same level we used to, you know. I still think we were always deferring to kind of goofy jokes and to, you know, big, giant, broad moments and J.D. and Turk being as infantile as ever."
But "My Last Words," which is as funny and touching as anything I've seen in the show's entire run, harks to the days when how matters of life and death affected the doctors was the main crux of the show. In it, Turk and J.D. put their "steak night" on hold to keep a dying man (Glynn Turman) company as he spends his last night in the hospital. It's funny without being silly, sentimental without being maudlin. It reminds me of early episodes like "My Philosophy," where death is treated with equal amounts of humor, dread, wonder, and matter-of-factness.
It leads me to believe that Lawrence truly is trying to shepherd Scrubs into a "final" season that's more about the doctors, the interns, and the hospital than it will be about J.D. and Elliot, the docs' rugrats, and other silliness. If it is, I'll be looking forward to it.
By the way, there's still no date for the premiere, but Lawrence says that the show may be rushed onto ABC sooner than he thought. Given ABC's recent schedule shuffle, I don't doubt that'll happen (According to this schedule, there will be a double-shot of the show on Wednesdays at 8 where -- gulp! -- Pushing Daisies airs now, starting in late January). Where do you think is the best spot for it? Let me know in the comments.
|Yes - I love the show!||853 (95.4%)|
|No - It needs to be put out of its misery.||41 (4.6%)|