Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Scrubs - Season 2

Scrubs - Season 2

Scrubs is funny. Really funny. It's not as smart as, say, Arrested Development (but then again what is?), but I enjoy it almost as much. I loved the first season, and finished watching the second several weeks ago. I'm going to be lazy and quote the Wikipedia article's summary to describe the show; in any case I couldn't possibly explain it any better.

The show focuses on the professional and personal lives of several characters working at Sacred Heart Hospital, a fictional teaching hospital. It uses first-person narration, verbose characters, segues between subplots, fast pace, and surreal escapism (presented as the thoughts and reveries of the main characters), counterpointed by poignant scenes where the characters address how doctors deal with real issues relating to the practice of medicine.

... The show is structured around multiple storylines thematically linked via voiceovers by protagonist and narrator Dr. John "J.D." Dorian played by Zach Braff. During many of the episodes, J.D. summarizes the story's moral or theme, in a sequence of shots that show how it has affected each of the characters.

Phew, saved me a lot of typing. Yeah yeah, it's a cheat, but I finished this ages ago and fell way behind with my blog posts for various reasons. It pains me to skip posting something - I need to post this for completeness' sake. So, following in the footsteps of many a bad manager, I choose to do a half assed job and meet my unreasonable target instead of doing it right or not at all. Sue me. Better yet, don't, I can't afford to be sued right now.

Alright, so in short, it's relentlessly funny and has a lovable and varied bunch of characters. The jokes, which are ostensibly random but are actually very character and situation specific while incorporating random elements, come thick and fast and work more often than not. I especially love the 'surreal escapism' bits, which can be extremely wacky. The show does fall back on repeated character quirks a little too often, but those quirks are actually funny enough for it to not become grating (although I wonder if I'll be singing the same tune after season 5). The stories themselves are quite varied, with a typical episode comprising multiple story threads that are thematically linked.

Scrubs is guilty of being a little overly sentimental at times, to be honest, but hey, I have a heart (most of the time) so I'm going to forgive them that minor transgression. OK fine, I'll admit it, sometimes the show can be affecting. *sniff* And somehow, the incongruity of seeing humour in a place where a lot of suffering takes place isn't as jarring as you'd expect (probably because the suffering part is toned down).

The writing is sharp, and a typical episode moves along at a fast pace and crams in a lot of incidident into 22 minutes, and it has a very energetic vibe in general. There's frequent use of music that's thematically appropriate for a given episode or scene. The performances are excellent across the board, with my favourites being the mean, snarky, and cynical trio of Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins), and the Janitor (Neil Flynn). Seriously, these guys are hilarious and inject just the right balance of humorous negativity to the show to balance out the mawkish stuff.

It's fun stuff, idiosyncratic and funny and featuring a bit of dramatic depth; it's mildly formulaic, but only to the extent that it is familiar enough for you to know exactly what you're getting with any given episode. Season 2 manages to be at least as good as Season 1. Here's hoping Season 3 maintains the healthy average.

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