Reviews: Scrubs

The very definition of nimble

Right from the first episode, I was hooked for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, Scrubs has a unique comedic style of its own. J.D., the main character, is a quirky, eager-to-please intern who has a tendency to daydream. The fantasies themselves are entertaining and fantastic(my personal favourite is the Floating Head fantasy). The Janitor is of course a brilliant addition that supplements the Cloudcuckoolander-type humour that Scrubs seems to be going for. Dr Cox - with his acerbic sense of humour and frequent abuse of J.D manages to be hilarious without frustrating or upsetting the viewer - because he's a genuinely nice guy who cares for his patients. Medically, the show is significant as in it manages to make the patients an integral part of the show - as their interactions with the main characters influences and even changes them sometimes. An excellent example would be J.D having to confront his fear of death when encountered with an old lady who admits that she's ready to die. Which brings me to my next point...

As for the drama, I feel that this only improves the show. Scrubs manages to pack lighthearted, humorous moments and poignant, emotionally heart-wrenching scenes in the short span of 22 minutes without being a bloated mess, which is a significant achievement. Scrubs is a nimble show that can do both comedy and drama extremely well, rarely overdoing anything. And that's why the show is a great watch overall.

Actually, the drama is what makes it great

Judging from the other two reviews here, and reactions of other (more casual) watchers this troper knows, people don't seem to appreciate Scrubs' dips into the more dramatic. Fair enough. But I disagree.

Scrubs is a phenomenally funny show, and yes, it's easy to just watch clips of the funny bits on You Tube and skip the emotional moments, but that's not what the show is about. Scrubs never sought to deceive any viewers into thinking it was brainless comedy. What makes the laughter all the more real and worthwhile is that it's balanced by the darker moments, and what makes the tragedy bearable is the comedy. For all the show's surreality, it strives more than anything to be realistic in its portrayal of the relationships between doctors and patients, and the relationships between people.

This show is brilliant. Admitting its genius comedy while dismissing the drama only cheapens that.

There is too much drama in my comedy.

Let's start by saying I like Scrubs, It is a genuinely funny show. Like most people, I have also picked a favourite from the broad, varied cast of characters (Dr. Kelso, though the janitor comes close at second place).

The problem with Scrubs is its attempts to engage with drama. It is mostly down to the main character, JD, who never shuts up. He endlessly muses, whines, and angsts over everything. The most annoying aspect of his character comes in the form of a stock scene that occurs towards the end of every episode. The scene is a montage which summarises several subplots that have developed over the course of the episode, whilst JD talks about what he has learnt. The problem is that these deeply personal life lessons are often corny and mind-numbingly obvious. "Letting go can sometimes be hard," says a ponderous JD, "...most of all, it is hardest to let go of someone you care about." Well, no shit. The montage is just a device to draw each episode to a close, and considering the uninspired morals, it is a fairly laboured one at that. It reminds me of the protagonist in the anime FLCL. He would stand around, trying to make big pretentious speeches as though he was some mature, stoic hero, when in reality, he's talking total nonsense. The difference is that FLCL plays it for laughs, whilst Scrubs presents it dead straight.

I also find it mawkish whenever characters like Dr. Cox drops his icy, sarcastic persona and reveals his vulnerable side (he does this nearly every episode), or when Eliot reveals the depressing source of her neurotic behaviour (happens regularly). And I just don't care when a patient inevitably dies and everyone looks about teary eyed.

Scrubs is very funny, and can occasionally be meaningful as well. However, the episodes are hampered by its ham-fisted attempts to appeal to me on an emotional level. It is very corny, and because it's so prolific in the series, the drama has no real impact anymore.

Save yourself the mood whiplash and just watch the funny clips on youtube.

This show has mood whiplash like nothing else. The humour is quite good and the characters are all lively and interesting, up until the moment the creator decides that madcap is utterly below him and attempts to balance it with drama. This is a feeling akin to hitting a brick wall at 75 MPH. There are no segues, no subtlety, just "Oh, you doctors are so zany and eccentric and people are dying all around you and you should all feel terrible, how dare anyone ever feel happiness ever."

Now this would be alright if it happened once every few episodes with some sort of disclaimer so you could Tivo your way past this and keep rolling with laughter, but unfortunately this rears its ugly face in practically every single episode, and you can judge how bad the episode is going to end by how outrageous the comedy gets. Are the doctors comically unconcerned about their patients? Four people die of rabies because the doctors are inattentive.

There is no balance at all in this show. Is it a lighthearted hospital comedy ala Green Wing or a collection of the most depressing scenes from the 15 years ER was on? It's too schizophrenic to be sure.