Scrubs: farewell?

It’s still up in the air whether last night’s one-hour Scrubs finale was the end of the series, or just the eighth season. As a goodbye to J.D. it was satisfying, hitting the right notes of closure (Elliot’s moving in; Dr. Cox finally admits he respects J.D., albeit when he didn’t realize J.D. was listening; J.D. heads off to his new job closer to his son without dramatic tears from anyone, just acceptance), but I’d say we didn’t feel like we were saying goodbye to the rest of the characters. This is probably a smart move, since ABC may well keep Scrubs going without Zach Braff, but should this end up being the series finale, at the very least I could have used a good Turk-and-Carla scene.

I’m torn about whether I want Scrubs to go on. Eight years is plenty of time for a sitcom, or probably any show, and yet Scrubs has proven with the new crop of interns this season that it is capable of pulling new characters into the mix and making things feel fresh. Surly, insecure, sarcastic intern Denise has quickly turned into one of my favorite TV characters, and I can definitely imagine a sitcom based around her career path much the way these past eight years have been based around J.D.’s. Her relationship with Elliot as Elliot tries to mentor her and show Dr. Cox that such teaching can be done without humiliation has been a high point of this season. Making the Denise/Elliot dynamic a focal point of the show the way the J.D./Dr. Cox dynamic has been could really work.

Except…Scrubs has a very specific formula, probably more so even than most sitcoms. And that formula involves the fantasy sequences…sequences that go on inside of J.D.’s head. They managed to serve up a fairly great J.D.-free episode earlier this season, but I’m not sure if they could do it every time. J.D.’s ability to bounce from whimsical and silly to thoughtful and serious made the show’s very odd tone work. Other characters make similar leaps, but shifting the main burden onto someone else might feel false.

Should ABC decide to solider on and see what they can make of Scrubs without the original scrub, I’ll tune in to see how they handle it. If they don’t, I’ll always be a bit curious, and I’ll certainly miss the characters, old and new. But overall I’ll be satisfied with the great run of a truly original show.

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