For the first time, a television show is gracing our “Lost Hours” template, thanks in large part to some recent hours in fact lost to said show. Depending on your feelings towards Scrubs, you’re probably either wondering why I’m wasting my hours with it or shocked that we would include it in a list of non-elite programs. At first, I was firmly in the latter group; a huge fan of J.D. and the gang, I hesitated to celebrate them in this forum, but I think they fit (Plus, we need somewhere to talk about the show. Duh.). Bill Lawrence’s concept turned into a fairly beloved and long-running program, but the show seems to have always lingered on the outer edges of elite television comedy. Nevertheless, yours truly has of course seen every episode
twice, an example of the danger of losing hours to not movies but television, with episodes and reruns aplenty.
For one thing, Scrubs was, by all accounts, a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the inner workings of a hospital and its inhabitants. The cast of course had certain levels of Hollywood beauty, but their problems were believable as were those of most of the patients they treat. In fact, the show thrived on its reality, the minutiae of interactions between doctors and nurses, surgery and medical, and employees and patients. From there, the zaniness of Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, and the rest of the cast turned Sacred Heart into a warm and comforting place, at times cheesy and predictable but always entertaining. Episodes for the most part blend into one another, as J.D. and Dr. Cox butt heads and Elliott has relationship problems and various guest stars slip in and out of the lives of the crew. For Braff as J.D., it doesn’t seem like there was ever much acting, which worked well as he seamlessly stepped into the quirky, klutzy shoes of a doctor working his way through life, love, and medicine.
Along with Braff’s willingness at the head of the pack and the show’s deft blend of comedy and humanity, Scrubs flourished because of a constant stream of guest stars ready and excited to mock themselves and their reputations. Colin Farrell played a drunken Irishman in a memorable episode, Heather Graham recurred as some manifestation of what people think of her, and even Lando stopped by. Everyone from Michael J. Fox to Courtney Cox to Tara Reid swept in and out of the hospital, always providing some new and different brand of comedy while reminding us of the fleeting relationships filling the lives of J.D. and friends. At its best, Scrubs gently pushed its characters to take small risks in order to grow in the long term. The characters reacted to adversity in realistic manners, resisting changes and succumbing to their own shortcomings time and time again, but enduring through their friendships and relationships with one another. Lawrence and company never shied away from death or cancer or breakups, but they never let their mainstays completely give in to grief or heartbreak. A comic touch to the lives of people wearied and war-torn made for insightful work without making you worry.
You probably won’t want to lose quite as many hours as I have to Scrubs, but luckily for you the show stands strong whether watched in chronological chunks or random Comedy Central spouts of reruns. Regardless, the musical episode is one of the treasures of the last decade of television, and every episode will produce at least a couple chuckles and memorable quotes from the always weird Sacred Heart staff, not to mention glorious air banding. Scrubs never tried to make any bold statements with or about its characters, choosing instead to exist in the steady flow of transitioning lives clashing and coming together. Cheesy and easy and formulaic, sometimes that’s what we need. Sometimes it’s exactly what the doctor ordered.