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October 8, 2015

Scrubs season nine -- An early look

by Joel Keller, posted Nov 30th 2009 3:05PM
Eliza Coupe, Donald Faison and Zach Braff in Scrubs: Our Drunk Friend
If you're a regular reader of TV Squad, you probably already know what's going on with the unexpected ninth season of Scrubs. From Bill Lawrence's statement that the eighth season might not be the final one to his detailed descriptions of how the show was going to transition to its new med school setting, you've been given a good idea of how this shift was going to happen.

But one thing we didn't know was the biggest question of all: is it going to be funny?

The answer? A qualified yes. The two episodes ABC sent for review, which air back-to-back tomorrow at 9 PM ET, were definitely funny. But most of the humor came not from the new med students we're supposed to get to know, but from the characters we've known and laughed with for eight years. And for this ninth season to succeed, that ratio will have to even out, and quickly.

Here's the set-up: It's about a year removed from when Zach Braff's character of J.D. left Sacred Heart and started a new job and a life with Elliot (Sarah Chalke). Somehow, in that intervening year, the old hospital has been knocked down and rebuilt on the campus of Winston University, the medical school that the hospital serviced for all these years.

J.D. has come back as an instructor, joining Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), who's teaching part-time, Turk (Donald Faison) and Cox (John C. McGinley), who both still work at the hospital in addition to their teaching duties. Last year's funniest intern, the alpha male-ish Denise (Eliza Coupe), is also on hand as a resident / RA for the students.

We're also introduced to three med students: Lucy (Kerry Bishé), an unsure student in the mold of a young Elliot, Drew (Michael Mosley, last seen on NBC's grand failure Kings), who dropped out of med school years ago and is coming back from a questionable period in his life, and Cole (Dave Franco), who likes the ladies and thinks he's untouchable because his family gave a huge endowment to the school. How much does Cole like the ladies? He makes The Todd look like a choir boy, if that's any clue.

The stories are supposed to be told from the med students' perspectives; in fact, one of the students provides the show's inner monologue instead of J.D., though we still hear from him from time to time. How tough med school is, how much Cox makes them wet their pants, etc. And some of what we see from the med students, especially Lucy and Drew, has its funny moments. In one of the episodes, for instance, Lucy imagines her situation as a Lifetime movie, complete with a very Lifetime-appropriate star.

But most of the comedy comes from J.D., Turk, and Cox. We see the renewal of the J.D./Turk bromance, complete with theme song, and J.D. seeking love from Cox. We see Cox ranting to the med students, calling them "killers" and making fun of one student's accent. We see Kelso chasing after younger women. We even see The Todd being The Todd. The locale is the different, but the jokes are the same.

Though the emphasis is on the next generation, the show seems to be having problems letting go of the past. If this version of Scrubs -- which Lawrence fought and succeeded to dub it with a "Med School" subtitle, to delineate it from the original series -- is to succeed, we're going to need to laugh with Denise, Cole, Lucy and Drew and have the old crew fade into the background. Braff is scheduled to appear in the first six of the show's thirteen episodes; hopefully, he won't be utilized as a comic crutch as much as he is in these first two episodes.

Oh, and for those curious about J.D. and Elliot's situation, it's mentioned pretty much in passing -- we see a brief glimpse of Chalke in one episode -- but, as Lawrence tried to emphasize last year, the show has never been about them. If only he can break free of some of the old show's other aspects.

[Watch clips and episodes of Scrubs on SlashControl.]

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Personally, I am looking forward to tonight's premier. Spin off or not, Scrubs is reaching its 9th season, something extremely rare for a sitcom, especially in today's television business. And I am excited for some new blood in the show. Last year brought us some new interns, and I am glad that Disease is sticking around full time (Sunny is going to be recurring this season). I would have liked Scrubs to take up Hank's old time slot, it would be a great fit on ABC Wednesdays, but that would leave Better Off Ted on its own.

A lot of people have been saying that the new voice of the show Lucy seems dull, uninteresting, flat, and not worthy to succeed JD as the narrator. Does anyone remember what Braff was like when he first started as JD? Hell, when the show started with all of its characters? Everyone was a blank slate, and Braff had little experience, it took him time for him to find his grove and his character to take off, and once it did, JD became one of the most memorable sitcom characters ever. Give Kerry Bishé some time to grow into her role before judging her.

December 01 2009 at 8:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well of course celebrities work for money and care about money just like the rest of us. But there's a reason why Metallica won't play your kid's bar mitzvah for $10,000. $10,000 for a few hours' work is damn good money.

The point is that some work by its nature is above certain celebrities. Now I grant you that Zach Braff is not an A-list celebrity. But he's been around long enough, and has made enough money off of Scrubs (wasn't he getting paid well over $200k per episode the last 2 seasons?) to not have to settle for crappy commercials and lame guest appearances on spinoff shows.

A prime example is George Cloony not coming back to appear in the series finale of ER. They wanted him to, but at this point, it's way below his star status. I'm sure they would have paid him a ton of money to do it, but Clooney doesn't need the money. THat's why Cloony has allowed himself to make small, artsy films... something for which he deserves respect.

Everyone knows the difference between earning a living and selling out.

December 01 2009 at 3:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bruce's comment
Dan Buckley

I guess you missed it when George Clooney and Julianna Margulies appeared in one of the final E.R. episodes. And it was more than a quick cameo. They were the focus of most of the episode. So they didn't even need to come back for the final episode. It was better that they didn't just show up for a few minutes at the end becasue they got a much better opportunity in that episode to do something with the characters.

December 03 2009 at 4:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

wow this show will keep going until it get a tenth and final season which i think should happen .

November 30 2009 at 8:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Bruce, it might not be about the money. For Scrubs, it could be for wanting to work with his friends, and for all his work, perhaps he just wants to keep himself busy. Having nothing to do at his age can get boring, especially if he plans on doing it for the rest of his life.

November 30 2009 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've already decided Scrubs ended at season 8, and this new thing on a different network is nothing more than a Scrubs spin-off, one which I have no intention of watching. Scrubs should have ended a few seasons ago, back when it was still funny and original. They dragged it on for at least 2 seasons well beyond what they should have, and then they ended it. Now they've spun it off into a new show about med students who will occasionally encounter JD and Turk and Dr. Cox. I predict anyone who watches this expecting Scrubs and not looking at it as a Scrubs spinoff is going to be extremely pissed off and disappointed.

On a related note, Zach Braff must be either really greedy or really bad at personal finance, because he shouldn't need the money. Yet not only did he come back to appear in a limited number of episodes of this new Scrubs spinofff show, he's also doing voiceover work on TV commercials for filtered water and crap. Did Zach lose all his Scrubs money with Bernie Madoff or something like that, or is he just a greedy bastard?

November 30 2009 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bruce's comment

Since when have you seen any "celebrity" ok with the amount of money they have? They are all after the mighty dollar every time they get a shot at it. You can't blame the guy for trying to make a living when it is offered to him and if you were in the situation you would probably inevitably do the same thing. If you answer this with a, "I would never do that" it probably says more about the fact that you will never be a super rich successful celebrity than some kind of altruistic ideal you are holding to. I will give the show a chance like I do most shows but if it proves to be not worth my time I will tune out.

November 30 2009 at 8:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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