Last night was the Season 9 premiere of the ABC sitcom Scrubs, though if you ask me it was really the premiere of a whole new show, it's kind of like a show that's been spun off from itself. We've got some of the same characters, but a totally new milieu, as well as the knowledge that more changes are coming. All in all, it kind of left my head spinning.
I guess here's the place that I mention that I've always been a big fan of the show, maybe too big. I've watched it since the very beginning and have been with it through about a million timeslot changes as well as the move from NBC to ABC. Sure, it got pretty wacky in the middle seasons and there have been about four potential series finales, but through it all Scrubs has remained, in my opinion, a totally enjoyable show. It has always been a well-written, smart half-hour with enough heart to make the hospital element more than just a backdrop for the characters' hijinx.
And now there's this. After an episode last Spring that certainly seemed like and felt like a series finale which included cameos by past characters, a dreamy "remembering the future" sequence, and some footage from the set of the actors hugging and crying, it seemed like Scrubs had truly left us. But, now it's back. ABC revived it after Hank's dismal ratings (like that was a surprise) and have made some large adjustments. Instead of being set solely in the ICU of Sacred Heart Hospital, Scrubs is now set at a Medical School and our main characters, Drs. Dorian, Cox and Turk are professors. We've got a crop of med student characters as well, one of whom shares VO duty with JD. In all likelihood, she will take over full-time once Braff's six episode commitment expires. Dr. Kelso has come out of retirement, I think this might be the first time ever that someone has been de-written off of a show. Also, the Janitor is no longer around and neither is Carla, Dr. Turk's wife. There also wasn't a whiff of Jordan, Dr. Cox's wife, though she can always potentially return because she's played by the creator's wife and all he would have to do is give her a day off from his other show, Cougar Town.
But, the largest missing element is JD's life. In the plot of last season, he decided to leave Sacred Heart to be closer to his son, but there's no mention of the son in the first two episodes. Also, in the interim, he and Elliott have gotten married and she's pregnant, and who knows how present she will be in the show since Sarah Chalke is actually pregnant in real life. Plus, once Braff is done, there doesn't seem to be much need for Elliott around.
And then I watched the episodes on top of all this, and I don't know what to say. Shows change throughout their runs, but this is kind of unprecedented and it's kind of tough to adapt to. It's still the same show, in theory, but it's really different, and not different in a way that Mad Men will be when it returns for Season 4. It's different in a way that changes the foundation of the show entirely and I'm not sure how it will work. Ordinarily, I would say that two lackluster episodes don't mean that much and that Scrubs has me anyway, so I'll keep watching; ironically, this is exactly what happened at the beginning of last season, it began with some missteps and then came back to form after four episodes. But it's tougher to do that this year, because it really feels like a whole new endeavor. I guess I'm gonna keep watching, but I'm honestly not sure why.
Come on, Eldrick.