I knew the first Zach Braff-free episode of this new version of Scrubs was going to be a bit of a bumpy ride, but I didn't think things would be this bad.
It's not just that the episode was lacking in funny. The established characters were mostly written wrong, exhibiting characteristics we've never really seen before. And the med students -- except for Drew -- were so broadly written that they could have been played by anybody.
No wonder why this episode was buried on New Year's Day.
Can you blame me? Given the low ratings and the fact that ABC has decided to blow out all 13 episodes by the end of January, it seems like this is the last we're going to see of the Scrubs: Med School gang, unless the show gets yet another last-minute reprieve. So it's tough for me to get too attached to this new set of characters.
But that may be a good thing. If what we saw last night was any indication of how things are going to be once the med students are carrying the show, it's in trouble.
Do Lucy and Cole still need a little bit more of a personality infusion? Sure. But it's hard to keep up comedically with characters who have been developed over the last eight years. This episode gives me hope that eventually they're going to be able to stand on their own.
Oh, and it gave us a chance to see another one of the Bill Lawrence Players: Scott Foley. Forget The Unit or Felicity; I always thought Foley's best job was as the awkward Sean on Scrubs. So it's good to see him back in the fold again. And judging by the story he's in, he's going to be around for awhile.
Christa Miller's 'Cougar Town' character Ellie is happily married (mostly) and provides a sharp but supportive contrast to single lady Jules (Courteney Cox.) Off-screen, Miller's happily wed (very) to the hit new sitcom's executive producer Bill Lawrence.
But that isn't stopping her -- or rather Ellie -- from fantasizing about 'Cougar Town' guest star Scott Foley on tonight's episode.
What's it like being married to the boss? And how does Miller juggle 'Cougar Town,' family and her role as Dr. Cox's ex-wife Jordan on Lawrence's other sitcom 'Scrubs'? Answer: she doesn't. Read on to see which one had to go for Miller to stay sane. (Hint: It wasn't her family.)
But they're just glimpses. As in the premiere, the more memorable stuff was from the old crew and how they interacted with each other. The most troubling part of that was J.D., or, more accurately, the Two J.D.s.
Anyway, my preview of this new iteration of Scrubs pretty much gave the entire setup, so we can mercifully skip past that and just talk about what was funny, and what wasn't.
Oh, and for those of you who are still hanging on to the story thread that is the Elliot / J.D. relationship, you'll be happy to know that everything's fine there. More after the jump.
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.
1) The more the show concentrates on the ensemble and less on Jules, the funnier it is, and
2) We really need to see more interaction between Courteney Cox and Dan Byrd.
This episode had essentially the same formula as the barbecue episode from a few weeks ago: bring everyone together under Jules' roof and let them bounce off one another. And it worked once again. Instead of a barbecue, of course, the occasion was Thanksgiving (in Florida can you have a barbecue three weeks before Thanksgiving). There's only one slight, itty-bitty problem with what went on this week. But it's a problem that I hope leads to some good things.
Do I still have issues with the show? Sure. But this episode was the best sign I can think of that Bill Lawrence and company are going to get the show on a funny footing by the end of the season.
But after enjoying the male side of the show more than the female side for the second week in a row, the reason has become clear: I might be the wrong gender. I'm neither getting nor caring about why Jules has so many issues with dating young'uns or the process she has to go through as a "woman of years" in order to do that.
What's ironic about that is that I had problems with the pilot because it felt like it was too frat-boy sounding. So maybe I don't know what I want out of this show. It's not the first time that's happened.
In the hall of TV show bands, The Blanks are The Rolling Stones. Definitely The Who, tops.
The a cappella quartet made their small screen debut on Scrubs as Ted's band The Worthless Peons, played by Sam Lloyd, Philip McNiven, George Miserlis and Paul F. Perry (not to be confused with Ted's air band The Cool Cats that was just a brief side project when they probably failed to win those water park tickets) and have since become a hard-working touring band that has gone back and forth between both sides of the U.S. coasts. But they were a band long before Scrubs was even an afterthought in Bill Lawrence's skull, assuming that Lawrence didn't come up with the idea for Scrubs when they all met at Syracuse University.
Lloyd and McNiven (the completely bald one that looks like Professor Wonder Bread) were nice enough to dish out all the backstage dirt that comes from the hard and edgy road life of an all-male vocal band.
Those are the words that kept popping into my head as I watched this episode. Courteney Cox dialed it down a notch. The characters melded together a bit more. We explored the lives of the guys a little bit, seeing a side of each we haven't seen yet. And finally, the show wasn't about Jules Cobb pointing out how she's 40 all the time; it was more about how her experience comes out in her relationships with the young'uns, whether it's her boy toy Josh or her assistant Laurie.
And, it was funny. Especially when there was an apple involved.
The biggest piece of information? That Judy Reyes, who played Carla during the first eight seasons, won't appear at all in this new-direction ninth season. She's the only regular of Scrubs Classic (my name for it) who won't appear at least once during the upcoming season. "I think she was either going to be a regular on this show or looking to go do other things with her career," Lawrence told me, citing that he "totally respect(s)" her decision.
Of course, with the new med-school-centric direction of the show, there's less of a need for some of the other semi-regulars; Sam Lloyd (Ted) has already shot his last episode, for instance.
Other info from Bill: How the season premiere will open, how the transition from Zach Braff's voiceover to another voiceover is going to work, and more about the new character directions for Classic regulars John C. McGinley, Donald Faison and Eliza Coupe.
Now, on to this episode. We've all seen Courteney Cox play neurotic; she played neurotic for ten seasons on Friends. But we've also seen her play tough, confident and warm, whether it was on Friends or any of her other roles. Right now, either via the writing or the way she interprets the role, she's playing Jules Cobb as a purely neurotic mess, and a loud one at that. It's not endearing, it doesn't help me connect with Jules' plight, and, most importantly, it's not funny.
Tonight's episode was Jules at her most neurotic, and it made for the least funny episode of the first four. It's a bad trend that's starting to make me worry about the overall health of the show.
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