[4 December 2007]
The Will They/Won’t They dynamic has served many shows in the past, with writers finding fertile ground in the sexual tension between characters who seem destined to get together, but who fight it tooth-and-nail every step of the way. One of the most famous examples is Moonlighting, which avoided the romance between Maddie and David as long as it could, only to lose its steam once the sexual tension became sexual reality.
More recently, The Office felt compelled to address Jim and Pam’s mutual crush, with decent results so far. The Office, though, as a busier ensemble comedy, can take that kind of risk with one of its storylines.
Scrubs finds its equivalent in Elliott and J.D., who have seemed like the obvious couple since they first arrived on the grounds of Sacred Heart. The show has even found them hooking up on several occasions, only to break up again in short order. Meanwhile, several other relationships—Turk and Carla, Dr. Cox and ex-wife Jordan, even eldery intern Gloria and Leonard the hook-handed security guard—have blossomed and flourished around them. That Carla and Turk, and Cox and Jordan—and yes, even Gloria and Leonard—also produce babies is testament to the spinning-wheels nature of J.D. and Elliott’s relationship.
So Season Six’s most disappointing aspect might be that, despite all indications to the contrary—with J.D.‘s burgeoning relationship and impending baby with Dr. Kim Briggs (Elizabeth Banks), and Elliott’s relationship with Keith Dudemeister—the show insists on dipping into the Will They/Won’t They well yet again as the season winds down. This despite some strong storylines for the other characters, such as Elliott’s venture into private practice, Carla’s post-partum depression, medical complications with Jordan’s pregnancy, the death of a character, and the entire cast’s growing fondness for a hospitalized Iraq War veteran named Private Brian Dancer (yes, Private Dancer). So there’s a good bit going on, especially with J.D., who must confront impending fatherhood (an early theme of Season Seven, as well, is the need for man-child J.D. to grow up).
Past that, Season Six is the same medical lunacy and drama of established Scrubs trademarks—heck, it might be the most inspired the show’s been in several seasons. There’s the birth of a funny running joke about J.D.‘s college girlfriend Stacy, and a glorious moment with a marching band when Carla announces that the baby’s coming. There’s the janitor pretending to be a ghost in pediatrics, scaring messy kids. There’s Dr. Cox’s evil delight that J.D. has vasovagal syncope, which means that he passes out during bowel movements. Cox is also at the heart of a House parody.
There’s Elliott’s micromanagement of not only Carla’s delivery, but also her own proposal from Keith and subsequent bachelorette party. There’s even a fairly decent musical episode (documented in two of the DVD’s bonus features), starring Tony Award Nominee Stephanie D’Abruzzo, that outlines some of the season’s themes to that point. And the show continues to get surprisingly good mileage out of J.D.‘s suburban lot that holds nothing but a front porch, as well as from the host of “third tier” characters like Colonel Doctor, Snoop Dogg Resident, and Dr. Bearface (saluted in a fluffy but enjoyable bonus feature).
So it’s a little disappointing that, with all of this going on, that the creators of the show feel that the J.D./Elliott tension is worth revisiting, because it makes many viewers want to throw their remotes at their TVs. As the show enters its final (possibly strike-shortened) season, Scrubs possibly wastes valuable time revisiting a storyline that seemed pretty well closed.