Before I begin my very extended look back at this one camera sitcom, let me be honest: I did not watch Scrubs from Season 1. I didn’t jump in at the start of Season 2. And I didn’t catch it midway through Season 3.
No. I started watching it because my college friend Kim asked me to tape the first episode of Season 5 because she was going to miss it. I did that, watched the episode, and loved what I saw. So she earns all credit for getting me into Scrubs. Thank you Kim.
Now, for all you out there reading this, you may say, “Hey, what can you offer to the writing world about Scrubs based on your untrue fandom? You started from Season 5? Pssh!”
Well friends, Scrubs has such an impact on me that I quote characters in my facebook status messages. Also, lines of dialogue between characters were used as my AOL Instant Messenger Away Messages. I created a YouTube Scrubs video set to Robert Palmer’s “Bad Case of Loving You.” I make it home from work at 6:00 pm these days, which is when Comedy Central airs an hour block of those crazy doctors from Sacred Heart.
Still not convinced? I own all 8 seasons on DVD. So therefore I have watched and seen all the episodes in the Scrubs library (sans Season 9, which I’ll get to). I’ve done my homework.
About midway through Season 5, I was hooked. And I picked up the first season on DVD. Scrubs was unlike any show I had seen before. Yes it was goofy, yes it had lessons to learn, yes it had cliché points that all tv shows might have. But Scrubs, as God as my witness, is the only TV show ever in the history of TV shows to make me cry. Multiple times at that.
The first episode that got me, “My Old Lady” was 4 episodes into Season 1. John Dorian aka J.D. (Zach Braff) deals with his own emotions as an elderly patients tells him it’s time for her to move onto the next life. We witness J.D. struggling with this news (and using the classic gag of him getting hit with a ton of bricks-literally) and how, as a new doctors, he’s learning to cope with all that he’s learning.
Scrubs, for all it’s seasons, had the ability to blend comedy and drama SEAMLESSLY, which really brought it into it’s own. It dealt with everything-love, bitterness, drama, comedy, birth, death, make ups, breakups, sex, midgets, illusions, daydreams…
Ah, there’s a topic-the daydreams. J.D., as the narrator the majority of the time, always tended to day dream. It could’ve been about anything, and that’s where Scrubs really took off. While these might have been alluding to things J.D. did in actual life, sometimes, they were just plain bizarre fantasies. Him on a sitcom making out with Elliot (Sarah Chalke), or him and his best friend Turk (Donald Faison) almost-read: almost-making out, or seeing his mentor Dr. Cox (the underrated John C. McGinley) teaching J.D. how to ride a bike, like a true father figure.
The relationship between Cox and J.D. was always a major plot point in each episode. J.D. always sought his approval, but Cox never gave in completely. If J.D. needed something along the lines of advice, Cox always doled it out with an air of aggressiveness and insult to his words. And more often than not, would call J.D. a girl’s name.
Going back, starting at Season 5 for me was a mistake, only because that’s where Scrubs got a little too silly. It alluded to things that could never happen in real life (Turk shoves J.D. into his backback, and this is not shown as a fantasy. Basically you know a fantasy is coming because the screen goes to white before the next clip and there’s a specific sound effect). While Scrubs clearly pushed the point of reality beforehand, it had an air of realism to it. Plus, with the added affect of drama, it always brought the show back down to Earth.
Season 6 had the worst of the series’ episodes (in my opinion). There was one based around a political standoff of all the doctors in the hospital which I absolutely loathed, then another episode narrated by Dr. Robert Kelso (Ken Jenkins), the hospital’s chief of medicine, who is funny as a side character, but not as the center of an episode.
When Scrubs entered into Season 7, there was major talk of it being the final season. But then-gasp!- the writer’s strike came along, making that season very brief and well, anti-climatic. It ended with a fairy tale based episode that gave no real insight on the characters tying up loose ends and, for the record, seemed wrongly placed in the time line of the season.
But then, just as all hope was lost, ABC picked up the show, and placed the importance upon It that NBC was lacking. ABC provided with plenty of on air advertising for the show, telling of when the show would be airing, while NBC kept continually switching the show’s time slot and confusing fans who didn’t know when to tune in.
The 8th season (and in my opinion, the last) of Scrubs had something different to it then the previous few seasons. It felt new again, fresh, even when J.D. and Elliot decided to enter into a relationship for a several time. Characters grew, laughs were had, and the final episode, when J.D. leaves Sacred Heart Hospital for a job at a new one, felt like a real series ending-the character we were first introduced to and followed along for eight years, was leaving. Packing his bags. Saying goodbye.
And who’s to say this isn’t what happens? Who can tell me that my fantasies won’t come true? Just this once.
Those were the last few words uttered by J.D. in the season 8 finale. As I wiped the tears from my eyes, I was very proud of what I just saw. That’s, I thought, how you end a series. Feeling like I just said goodbye to a good friend, I turned off my TV, and went to bed.
But as days passed, it became clear-Scrubs was not ending. The show that was deemed “might not survive” was now deemed “might not go away.”
When Season 9 (aka Scrubs: Med School) was announced, I had nothing but doubts: Why do this? Why continue? Why drag on? End on a high note for crying out loud!
And then, as Dr. Dorian, Dr. Turk, Dr. Cox, and Dr. Kelso came back onto my television with new things to say and do, I realized right away that this Scrubs was not like the one of old.
Brand new hospital. Brand new story. Brand new (ANNOYING AND IRRITATING) interns. Seems that the four mentioned above all become (plot convenience, anyone?) teachers of the up-and coming-doctors. Pretty much at the center of it all, there’s Lucy, who is the J.D. type character and has her own fantasies. Meanwhile, the only good parts of the show are the old cast members, and for the sake of the matter, having J.D. return when we are supposed to be thinking that he is gone is just wrong. I think Braff made a huge mistake in coming back, but yet I would’ve have probably never watched Season 9 if he wasn’t on it. Once his 6 episode deal was done, he left. And so did I.
Six episodes into Season 9 and I hated it. They took something so amazing and lovable and turned it into a mess. They always say, “Quit while you’re ahead.” The people behind Scrubs did no such thing. They capitalized on the success of their own show and ripped it right off. They only thing mentioning of Season 9 were the classic characters. Other than that, the show was pretty much D.O.A.
It is hard to look back on Scrubs with 100% joy. It certainly had some low points, some horrible episodes, and a final (semi) season (that being 9) to place a bad taste in your mouth if you gave it the light of day. However, what Scrubs season 9 did for me was put into light that the bad episodes that came in previous seasons were beautiful to what 9 had to offer.
Scrubs only had 8 seasons. That’s how I look at it. That’s how I’ll continue to look at it. We were given morals, lessons, advice, and words of wisdom from fictional characters that apply to everyday living. We were given moments of laughter, and moments of sadness. We were, in my opinion, given two of the greatest TV characters ever created, Dr. Perry Cox, and the Janitor (Neil Flynn), a character who, in the beginning, was only supposed to be a figment of J.D.’s imagination. Thank God they expanded that role.
Scrubs, for me at least, was a show that whatever time I watch it, I enjoy, being that the episodes are ONLY from Season 8. Yes, Season 9 came and went. I’m glad they pulled it. I had no place in the library of Scrubs, no matter how much they tried to get to be like it.
Scrubs had fun characters, good stories, and heart. No pun intended.
I am a proud-and will always be proud-fan of Scrubs. Check my facebook group that I created if you don’t believe me.