Scrubs – “Our Dear Leaders”

“Our Dear Leaders”

January 26th, 2010

J.D. and Turk are not entirely dissimilar characters: they’re best friends, after all, and both have their quirks which make them quite enjoyable to watch in a “look at how immature he can be” sort of way. However, what I always found interesting was how Turk was always capable of better balancing the two: while the show struggled at the start of this season to position J.D. as both a mentor and a source of comedy, Turk has always been taken somewhat more seriously, which meant that he could be a bit more over the top without losing our respect or the respect of his new Med Students.

Ultimately, though, I think “Our Dear Leaders” didn’t entirely work because there is a point the Chief of Surgery needs to have moved beyond these types of stories. While it may be thematically helpful to have all of the stories play into a sense of leadership, to lump Turk in with the med students is problematic in terms of the necessity to exaggerate his character’s response to particular actions. It’s not that Donald Faison is no longer funny, or that there isn’t a story to be told about the fact that he’s too old to be acting like a Med Student, but the story never really gave him much material to work with, and it never quite connected the dots in terms of making this a story about Dr. Turk needing to come to terms with his maturity (instead suggesting he suck it up so the source of his jealousy would keep donating money to the hospital).

It wasn’t a terrible episode, but it seems as if the show still struggles when it tries to straddle these two worlds as opposed to capturing the points at which they interact.

The best story in the episode, by far, was the interaction between Drew and Dr. Cox, which says a lot considering how predictable it was. As soon as Cox gave Drew his project, you knew that it flew in the face of what he actually believed in – we watched this show for nine seasons, so we know that beneath his harsh exterior is someone who wants to help young doctors and who just can’t help himself. But even though the moral was clear before the story really even began, Michael Mosley remains the best of the new interns, and his rapport with McGinley makes for some great scenes that really strike at the heart of what the show is about. Mosley nicely positions Drew in that role of mentor with Lucy and the other med students without entirely disassociating himself from being Cox’s young apprentice, and there’s a controlled unease there which sells the character being trapped in the middle but sort of liking it that way, at the end of the day.

And while it had almost no content, the interns’ scrambling in his absence was almost entirely saved by the greatness of Dave Franco. If we were to consider him a real character, then perhaps he would fall short, but Cole is basically The Todd with a purpose, and his reaction shots were by far the highlight of the intern interactions. I don’t dislike Lucy, as some seem to, but I do think that a little goes a long way: here, the crazy act was pretty good, but once she attacked Tran it really had nowhere else to go, and while her obsession with horses remains a clever joke it’s a one-note bit that feels too much like “female J.D.” The narration makes that inevitable, I understand, but when the episode isn’t at all about her it makes her character seem that much more irrelevant in that her narrating the episode makes no sense at the end of the day.

But while those stories had their moments, Turk’s feud with visiting Russell never made any sense to me. There’s a story here about how Turk is too old to dance like he once did, but the show spends a bit too much time with Turk being ignorant to the way he’s responding to his ego being deflated. While the story offered Denise and Kelso some opportunities for some good lines, it felt a bit strange for Turk to be entirely clueless in terms of how he was behaving. The guy was obnoxious, so I understand how he would get Turk riled up, but I think Turk should have handled the situation more intelligently (perhaps still learning a lesson about putting aside your ego as chief of surgery) as opposed to like a small child. Yes, he was learning (like Drew) what it takes to be a leader, but the show regressed Turk a bit too far for me to necessarily believe the story at hand, especially when the moral was that it’s his job to take shit from Russell so that the hospital can keep getting money. If the story had been framed as “Turk refuses to give in to superstar doctor” as opposed to “Turk is infantilized by superstar doctor,” I think it might have come together okay, but that just wasn’t what they were going for.

The idea of the “Study group” is offering them some opportunities to create new dynamics that were more social or casual in the original series, and I liked the idea of Drew as Leader, Lucy as Cole-wrangler, and the others chipping in. And, since you’re talking about group dynamics, leadership is a key theme. It just felt like the Turk side of things was a distraction, and perhaps giving that story another pass might have helped the episode as a whole.

Cultural Observations

  • I’m going to presume Eliza Coupe was sick when they filmed the episode, and that they didn’t make her talk in that rasp just to sell the joke about her throat tightening up/shower pie period during Hell Week.
  • The runner with Drew and Denise dealing with their “I love you” moment felt like an unnecessary addition to last week’s story, but their awkward attempt at a kiss was some great comedy.
  • Scrubs is also not scheduled to air anytime soon, but there’s a chance that it could end up slotted at 8pm on Wednesdays for the final two episodes of its 13-episode run.
  • And since I feel as if Alan Sepinwall will judge me harshly if I don’t link to it, Donald Faison’s most famous dancing moment on the show.
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2 Comments

Filed under Scrubs

2 responses to “Scrubs – “Our Dear Leaders”

  1. Tausif Khan

    Or is Turk doing The Safety Dance the most memorable: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-bIhCBSrzU

  2. eddie

    Eliza Coupe said this on twitter last night: “If ur wondering why I sound like a $2 tranny after 12 packs of Marlboros & some serious deep throat action, it’s because I was wicked sick.”

    - twitter.com/eliza_coupe

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