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Review: Scrubs - Our White Coats / Our Couples

by Joel Keller, posted Jan 6th 2010 10:09AM
Donald Faison and John C. McGinley in Scrubs: Our Couples
(S09E07 / S09E08)
I don't usually do a joint review when two episodes of a show air in the same night, but both these episodes were so interestingly similar in tone, that I felt it was better to discuss them together than separately. Also, I've got a case of the winter lazies.

But back to that first point: Many of you couldn't understand why I hated the episode on New Year's Day so much; many of you felt that it did a nice job of showcasing the med students as well as a maturing Turk and Elliot. But there was something so off about how those characters were written last week that it didn't sit well with me. This week's episodes showed me why. They also gave me a good indication of the pace and tone that Med School should settle into. Just hope it's not too late.

Here's what I took from these two episodes:

-- That once Turk separates from J.D., he becomes quite a compelling character on his own. In the second half of "Our White Coats," when he stopped being a stand-in for J.D. and started to counsel Drew on forgetting about his decade-old med school meltdown, we saw a wise side of Turk that suited him quite well. Then, in "Our Couples," his ability to rise above Cox's pettiness and have his back over the failed surgery on Al the Peanut Guy made me realize that Turk really is the chief of surgery and he's taking his position seriously.

-- Sure, it's all well and good for Elliot to be near cocky, especially since she seemingly has her life in order. But there needed to be a little bit of the old Elliot in the mix. And we saw more of that, namely her ramble about being a gunner in med school, her desire to see Denise glam it up for Drew, and her desire to trade five years of her life -- if she lives into her 80s -- to keep her pregnancy boobs. All the while, she was a great mentor to Lucy. So we see both sides.

-- Centering the show on Lucy was a mistake. She's a fun supporting character, but isn't funny enough or has enough personality to carry the show. Though I did like her reluctant admission in "Our Couples" that she actually liked Cole and he wasn't just a booty call to her anymore. Cole, on the other hand, should be given to us in smaller doses. Maybe being with Lucy will ease his character off a bit -- the credit tag where Lucy lists all of the phrases he's no longer allowed to say was pretty funny -- but the current toolish version is just taking up too much screen time. Though it's interesting to see that he's a massive Golden Girls fan.

Michael Mosely and Eliza Coupe in Scrubs: Our New Girl-Bro-- I was right when I thought the show should be centered around its misanthropes. Diving into why Drew snapped in med school ten years ago was an interesting character study we haven't seen on Scrubs before, and Michael Mosely can pull off the subtleties of his character with ease. I wanted to see more. And he and Denise make a fun couple; first she dresses up for him (hubba hubba, Eliza!) then, in "Our Couples," they scheme to mess with the dopey security guards (who I still think aren't necessary... they feel like stand-ins for Janitor and Ted but are just cartoons) by stealing their golf cart. They just have good chemistry together, and we're seeing Denise grow right before our eyes, while still maintaining that hard edge.

-- Without J.D.'s needy zaniness in the mix, the pace of the episodes slowed down. That's a good thing; the performances and stories weren't suffocated by joke after joke and it let the characters shine. I see the same thing in Cougar Town; when episodes aren't all about Courteney Cox, they slow down and actually tell a good story. In fact, the pacing felt more like early season one Scrubs, before the writers fell in love with J.D. and his flights of fancy. Both episodes settled into a nice rhythm that I hope becomes the personality of Scrubs Med School, whether there are only five episodes left or not.

-- I like seeing Kelso as the dirty old grandpa of the group, but damn do I miss the days when he was making interns wet their pants.

-- I'm more intrigued by a Turk - Cox friendship than a Turk - Denise friendship. They're the hospital's bigwigs now, and no one else knows what's on their shoulders. "Our Couples" showed that the two of them can work as friends, even if it's friends who try to one-up each other in the alpha male department -- "Doctor Coxie is Foxy".

What do you folks think? Are they going in the right direction?

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Whatever happened to having the dynamic guest star for an episode or two? When I go back and watch old episodes, those are the ones that stand out to me the most. Right now its too much focus on the recurring cast. Take last season's episode where Turk and J.D. skip steak night to spend time with their patient: the focus was on a good guest star, and that allowed Turk and J.D. to be comfortable and not try to do too much. Also, Lucy isn't a good character to lead a show, Drew should be the main voice.

January 09 2010 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've always been bothered that Turk is a chief of surgery. The average age of a hospital chief is probably in his 50s or late 40s. Turk seems to be no older than 35.

January 08 2010 at 9:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Last two episodes were great. Do running two episodes mean ABC is trying to burn through the remaining episode? Write the network.. save Pina Cole- ada!

January 06 2010 at 10:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Our couples was easily my favorite episode of the season by far. I was laughing so hard when Denise told Drew that she was stabbed and Drew was so confused he did not know what to think. Denise: "You don`t get my jokes". Loved that scene.

January 06 2010 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ben woocher

Was I the only one who caught the subtle "Office Space" reference in the "White Coats" episode? John C. McGinley, as one of the "Bobs" was an obbsesed Michael Bolton fan, and Perry Cox was Bolton's college roommate.

January 06 2010 at 5:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I very much enjoyed these last two episode. I actually laughed out loud at a joke with Drew and Denise, forget which one, and I haven't done that in a LONG time at any show. Even Better Off Ted, which I love, doesn't make me laugh out loud. To me, one of the only objective measures of a quality comedy is if it can get out a physical reaction like a laugh, and this one did it.

January 06 2010 at 4:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This show may find its legs. I just hope it is not canceled before it does. It is on a slow incline. Do not miss Carla. Do not miss Dox' ex. Do miss ted and the singing quartet. Yes, the security guards are the new Jan I. Tor. But they need to me more proactive, less stooges.

January 06 2010 at 3:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't understand how people feel compelled to mention they can't stand Cole when that is almost certainly the entire point of the character. He's entitled, douchey, and self centered he's not supposed to be likeable. I kinda hope Lucy doesn't change him, I'd hate to lose douchey Cole, then he'd really boring.

I think Lucy works as the central character. Don't get me wrong, Drew is by far a better character but seeing inside his head would strip away some of the mystery of the character that I love. While Lucy, being so neurotic and in her head all the time works better as an avatar for the viewer.

January 06 2010 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Chris's comment
Joel Keller

Chris, if Drew were the central character, it would be best to lose the internal monologue and fantasy flashbacks. They don't really work at this point, anyway. This is how you make him the focus and not get inside his head.

January 06 2010 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Yme Sandelmann

Well, as I said I don't want to get rid of Cole. Wait! Yes, I want. But I want another idea of a douchey-character. A character can be a douch and you can still... not like him, but maybe respect him. Think "ER" and Romano. Think "The Office" and Dwight. The problem is not that I/we don't like Cole. It is that I/we don't connect with him. I guess?!

January 06 2010 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would have thought that some of JD's more annoying girly qualities would be less annoying in an actual girl, but it turns out that they're even more annoying in Lucy. I need to see less of her, and waaaay less of Cole unless they plan on making him an actual person at some point.

Things I'd like to see more of: Drew (who should be the focus of the show), Denise, Elliot as a mentor, and the Turk-Cox relationship. I really enjoyed Kelso last year, when it seemed like having been freed of his administrative responsibilities, the decent human being trapped inside of the bastard bureaucrat was starting to break out. I really want to see more of that. I'd also like to see some of the minor characters developed a bit more.

That's a lot to ask of a show that probably won't be around much longer, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

January 06 2010 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Yme Sandelmann

You summed it up pretty good, I think.
And I, too, cannot stand Cole. Not only do I not like the character, I also don't like HOW the actor is playing him (which may not be his fault since he probably is instructed on playing him that way). I totally can see a "douchebag-character" in the mix, who from time to time will shine through his good heart and slowly become part of the group. However, I do not hate Cole because he is a douche... I hate him because he is a caricature of a douche and totally exaggerated.
I wonder how Bill Lawrence feels about how "Med School" turned out so far. He usually is pretty honest and self-deprecating... I cannot imagine he would do it all the same way again if he could.

January 06 2010 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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