Sunday, January 03, 2010

TV: Scrub up

"Find? 'Find' like found?" We were on speaker in a loud conversation with our agent.

"No, darlings," he insisted. "'Fined' like penalized. Don't you know what Barack Obama is proposing to do to people who don't have health care? Look, I've got parts for you both that'll keep your health insurance going for another year."

As if that wasn't enough to make us sick, he told us the gig: Scrubs.

"I thought they canceled it," said one of us.

"I hoped they had," said the other.

We just didn't know.

Scrubs started airing on NBC in the fall of 2001 and stopped airing on NBC in the spring of 2008. However, the mildly amusing show wasn't done yet. It moved over to ABC for another season and, last month, began airing another season. Though some think it may be back for a third season on ABC next year, the suits we know say there's no chance.

Why is that?

We wondered.

Then we reviewed our scripts.

"They want me to say," began one of us trying not to shudder, "they want me to say, 'Hey, Dr. T.! I heard one time they opened up a dude's stomach and there was a finger in it! I mean, think about it! You're in a lab, you're a little buzzed, everything's cool and then all the sudden your dead guy's flipping you the bird! With another dude's finger!!! I mean "What!!!"'"

"You think that's bad?" replied the other. "I'm supposed to open with, 'Hey crazy swimsuit girl, what are you doing?'"

Taking comfort in the knowledge that the cast generally disregarded huge chunks of the script and ad-libbed their way through each episode, we tossed the scripts aside.

Only to grab them back up when a friend advised, "Just make sure you don't have a kissing scene with Zach Braff."

Oh, yeah, we'd heard complaints about that for years.

Speed reading while we held our breath, we were relieved to discover that not only did neither of us have a kissing scene with Braff, he wasn't even in the episode.

He's left.

He's too good for the part of J.D.

Or thinks he is. 35 this April, it's really too late for Braff to become a film star. You really have to do it much sooner (see John Travolta's career trajectory) or you are TV Dad. For example, even being declared "Sexiest Man of the Year" didn't do a damn thing to get Mark Harmon a film career and he was only 34. 37 is another number Braff should be familiar with. That's how old Jon Cryer was when, film career over, he finally had a TV hit. Three failed films (and no hit) this decade should have told Braff there was no future for his face on the big screen. His agent should have told him to sit his ass down and watch Will & Grace's "No Sex 'N' the City."

Instead, he's skipping down Donnie Most Trail. Nice knowing you, Zach.

"Who's got food? Mama needs a refill! I'm dying here!"

Sarah Chalke looked around at no one in particular -- maybe because everyone was avoiding making eye contact.

She was back for this episode as Elliot. The role she'd played since the show started.

"I'm dying here!" she exclaimed. "I'm really dying."

Zach's J.D.'s done with the season which means Chalke shows up as the pregnant Elliot with these new characters she really doesn't know or, for that matter, really interact with.

We were about to write the show off. All the characters you cared about were gone (Judy Reyes wasn't even toying with the idea of bring Carla back for season nine). What was the point?

But then we started noticing Kerry Bishe who's basically playing the new J.D. (named Lucy) and were really impressed with some of the delivery and acting choices she was making. And we liked what Eliza Coupe was doing as new character Denise Mahoney. Best of all, Donald Faison was finding a new level for his long running character Turk.

With just the three of them, there was reason enough to root for the show.

And that's before we noticed Her Royal Highness.

It was easy to miss David Franco. Despite claims of being 5 foot 7 inches, he could actually pass for a Furby. And while his physical size may not impress, when he opens that mouth and starts gesticulating, stand back.

Or, as he might say: Snap, girl!

He's joined the cast as Cole, a med student sleeping with Lucy.

And why not?

We've missed Jack McFarland. So what if Franco's version of Jack is straight?

There's nothing more delightful than Franco swishing his hand through the air and declaring, in what sounds like a drag queen voice (he thinks he sounds butch), "Girl, once you wake up the troops, you got to storm the beach!" Believe it or not, that line actually gets Lucy on top of him.

"You want people to notice," he ad-libbed in another scene trying to beef up his character. "How much you think I bench? I don't bench. I do high intensity reps. I'm toned as balls."

Something about the way he said "balls" and the come-hither look he was giving to Michael Mosley (new to the cast as Drew) made us wonder if Franco was lost in the character's backstory? Or maybe it was some form of prepping for the "manual rectal disimpactation" that Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley ) had assigned to Franco's character?

We didn't know. We only knew that puzzling that allowed us to ignore two things. First, learning our lines. Second, admitting how badly our characters were written.

Actually, we knew one more thing: Franco was flaming like no one had on ABC since Brian Austin Greene played Freddie Prinze's romantic partner on the short lived Freddie.


The changes to the show really weren't that bad. They didn't seem to know how to write for the new characters yet. Possibly, Bill Lawrence was too busy working on an actual hit show to give Scrubs the attention that it needed?

Fortunately we were there. And really not into the badly written roles. And tired of watching Chalke in her funk between scenes. So one of us gave Chalke all her lines and the other gave Franco all her lines and it worked. Chalke took "Hey, crazy swimsuit girl" and almost made it funny. And Franco tore into the new lines with the kind of gusto that would make Cristal Connors proud or at least have Cristal handing Franco a black cowboy hat.

If they gave it time, ABC could actually have a hit. The elements are there in a way that they haven't been before. Some stronger scripts and the retool of Scrubs would be a huge hit. Ourselves, we'd make Franco's Cole at least bi-sexual,if not gay.

As for our health care, oh, well, we'd just be screwed like most Americans if Obama's BigBusinessGiveAway was turned into law.
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