“Scrubs”: My Waste of Time

Posted by SH

Or, you could call it, “My Penultimate Episode on NBC.” It’s all but a given that the Sacred Heart gang is moving to ABC for its unforeseen eighth season — the cast and crew have reportedly already begun production — so there’s a strange bit of purgatory hanging over these last few eps. Usually a season builds momentum to a big finale, sprinkling story points along the way that will end in some resolution before trotting out another cliffhanger. But Bill Lawrence & co. don’t seem interested in that, plus, you throw in the writers strike that ate up a couple months’ worth of shows and it’s made for a very jagged run.

That being said, the episodes themselves have been pretty good. After Kelso’s satisfying departure last week (sorry for the no-blogsies, I was out feeding my inner film geek), Dr. Cox has been put in charge. The comic possibilities here are massive, and things start off the right way, with the inevitable correcting of anyone who forgets to address him as “Chief Dr. Cox,” but I was surprised how Perry was pretty much sitting on his duff this whole episode. After seeing Elliot’s inordinate excitement over his promotion, he prescribes her a chill pill, then pretty much shuts down. The obvious arc would be for him to discover how hard Kelso really had it, and how much his evil persona was really a method of coping and sometimes even maintaining the peace. Or he’ll become drunk with power, which would be more fun. The preview for next week shows Kelso back in uniform, though, so who knows what is in store? The only time we saw him this week was laughing hysterically after being asked to take care of some paperwork that pertained to his tenure. He wasn’t living it up on the beach somewhere, but standing on a sidewalk somewhere not too exotic. Hmmm …

While Cox reigns supreme, J.D. helps Elliot track down a former patient of hers who might be entitled to a settlement from a drug company. It’s really a ruse for Elliot to make sure she didn’t inadvertently kill someone, and to hang out with her old sex buddy J.D. She’s put off by J.D. wishing Turk were there, insisting she can hold her own in the wackiness department. So the two put a fake sign over a fast-food loudspeaker, telling customers they’ll have to yell their orders. Everything’s fine until an irate customer drags the employee through the window and drives off with him.

Frankly, I’m kinda tired of the “why don’t we hang out anymore?” shows between J.D. and Elliot, which they seem to trot out every so often when laziness hits the writers room. At least this time there’s the extra element of baby Sam involved, and you can see their relationship logically moving to the next level. Again. But the series has always seemed determined to keep them apart, so after so many false starts, that axiom of defining insanity by repeating the same failure, thinking it will work, comes to mind. In freer parlance, toot or get off the pot.

Turk tells everyone Carla wants him to get a testicle implant to replace his lost ball. J.D. imagines he and Turk shopping at Ball-Mart, but it doesn’t stop there. He, Cox and the Todd go ice fishing with Turk and are only able to warm themselves by cozying up to Turk’s new ball, and they come back with various oval-shaped marks on their faces to let you know how intimate things got. J.D. chastises himself for yet another long fantasy, then cocks his head again in that familiar, dreamlike way right before “I’m No Superman” kicks in, making you wonder momentarily if everything that follows is all in J.D.’s head. I would guess no, but I won’t be surprised either way.

Ball-replacement isn’t all that’s on Turk’s mind. Carla wants to have another baby, but he’s reluctant, feeling that pregnancy was too hard on her the first time out, and that they have just started to get back into their pre-baby groove. She does agree to get him to think about it, as long as she promises him one month of sex at his beck and call.

While a couple weeks ago, I was pleased to see the show’s minor characters team up, ensuring they would get more screen time, they sort of weigh things down this time out. Setting up shop in Kelso’s abandoned office (why doesn’t Cox take it over?), they dub it the Brain House, where Janitor rules over Ted, the Todd and that guy from the morgue whose name I can never remember. Murphy, maybe? Janitor’s rule is challenged, however, by a newly emboldened Ted, who breaks off and forms a separate entity, devoted to nothing in particular.

Everything does come together in a masterful scene in the break room where J.D., Turk and Janitor all vent their worries to a perplexed Cox and delighted Jordan, all of them thinking Cox is telling them just what they need to hear, while he insists he has no idea what’s going on. Probably the best scene of the season.

While another season of “Scrubs” no doubt will produce some funny moments, and, face it, it would have been a bummer to have a rushed finale, I’d kinda made my peace with things winding down. It’s doubtful the move to ABC will last more than a season, so I guess this set of episodes will be remembered as more of a placeholder, with some admittedly big events thrown in. In any case, it should be interesting. And in the event it’s not, just tilt your head, J.D.-style, and imagine a better ending.