Friday, May 8, 2009

A Hard Goodbye and a Fond Hello

"Scrubs" ended two nights ago. An eight-year run, and I was there for six or seven years. I know that I found out about the show through Netflix. Watched the first season that way and was hooked. I was there when NBC was mistreating it through bad scheduling and little advertising. I was there when ABC, who produced the show anyway through Disney, saw that it was being beaten up, and steathily negotiated it to its network for one more season. Or so we think because as of now, there's no word yet on how the negotiations are progressing for a ninth season, which would most likely see Zach Braff come back for a few episodes, but not all, and most likely no Judy Reyes as Carla, as she indicated some time ago that the eighth season would be her final season.

It would be best for the show to be left at this ending. Bill Lawrence, the creator of "Scrubs," has been working on a new show called "Cougar Town" starring Courtney Cox (who guest-starred for three episodes as the new Chief of Medicine at Sacred Heart), and according to, executives at ABC like it enough that it will probably be given a slot on the fall schedule. Lawrence has said that even if "Scrubs" continues without him, there are enough producers and writers on that staff to continue on. I don't think so. Lawrence was there from the first episode to the last. That's what made it work. When creator/writer Aaron Sorkin and director Thomas Schlamme left "The West Wing," still my favorite show, even three years after the end, seasons 5 and 6 became a bad time for the show. The writers' struggle to try to maintain the quality that Sorkin brought showed in each episode. I had sympathy for them at the start of the 5th season because of Sorkin's departure. That was a lot to live up to. I didn't expect Sorkin-quality writing, but as the season progressed, there was no real voice to find. These people of this administration didn't seem like the same people we had in the previous four years. There was hope in the episode "The Supremes," in which Glenn Close and William Fichtner guest-starred as potential Supreme Court nominees, because it was written by Debora Cahn, who understood the rhythms of the show. She was as close to Sorkin as we would likely get, and every episode that she wrote proved that she was the next best thing. She rose above all the other scripts that had been churned out for episodes up to that one. Finally, there was a voice.

Because Lawrence kept with "Scrubs" throughout its entire run, there was always something to cause burst-out-loud laughter. Always. At times there were episodes that were simply coasting along, but there was always a moment or two to keep me watching. Always.

This finale, this is the proper finale. There is no reason to try to position the new interns at Sacred Heart as the new cast. This is not "ER." While Denise and Sunny were interesting to watch, we were with J.D. and Elliot, and Turk and Carla, and Dr. Kelso and Dr. Cox, and Ted and the Janitor and Jordan and so many others who populated Sacred Heart. Every week, there was a reason to watch them. There still was at the end.

That hallway of memories for J.D., him watching what his future might be, Carla telling J.D., in response to his question about why she never tortured him like she does Dr. Cox---"You were Bambi. Somebody had to teach you how to walk."---I cried. I really did. The only time I got a little teary-eyed at the end of "The West Wing" was aboard Air Force One (or SAM (Special Air Mission) whatever for sticklers like me), when Former President Bartlet was looking out the window and Former First Lady Abigail Bartlet asked him what he was thinking about. "Tomorrow," he answered. Then the shot of Air Force One, and that was it. But it was just a little mistiness in the eyes.

There were a lot of tears from me this time. And I thought they had ended after that fantasy flash-forward had ended when the maintenance man out front tore down the white sheet that said "Goodbye J.D." in big letters. They didn't, especially upon seeing that the maintenance man was creator Bill Lawrence. J.D. looks at the hospital for the final time, Lawrence looks at him, at the hospital for a second, then back at him and says quietly, "Good night." J.D. replies, "Good night," and walks to his car. The creator saying goodbye to his creation. I broke down.

There has to be balance. With sadness, as it was with the end of "Scrubs" there has to be unfettered happiness. I found it after I got up pretty late yesterday before my mom's appointment with the dentist to see how the aftermath of the wisdom teeth removal (two) was faring, and had a shower, which made the day look better.

We left the dentist's office and before stopping at Dickey's Barbecue Pit for dinner in the Pavilion's shopping center in Valencia, we stopped at Target across the street. Naturally, I wanted to go see what DVDs they had. And naturally, my sister tagged along, as I always ask her to.

I looked at the new releases that are in a display for people to see as they pass by. I found the mainstream Criterion Collection release of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." It dragged, namely during the sequences in Russia, but I liked it.

$22.98. Too pricey for me. I just found out that has it for $19.98. I'll consider it.

My sister was looking at the kids' DVDs and pointed out a DVD to me that surprised me completely. And I'm usually never surprised when it comes to DVDs because I always know what's coming out and what I might be interested in having in my collection.

But I didn't know about this, and this was that aforementioned happiness: Jetsons: The Movie.

It was the second movie I saw when I was little (the first-ever was "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles"), and we owned it on VHS too. It took so many years for it to come to DVD, but I guess with the impending release of two "Saturday Morning Cartoon" collections from Warner Bros. with a lot of Hanna-Barbera cartoons on them, as well as The Jetsons: Season 2, Vol. 1 coming out in June, they had to do it some time.

Only quibble, even though I've always been used to fast-forwarding to my favorite parts and rewinding them repeatedly, is the lack of scene selections on the DVD. There's only "Play," and a "Languages" screen. At least it's on DVD now, though. No complaints about no extra features, considering that William Hanna, Joseph Barbera, Penny Singleton ("Jane"), George O'Hanlon ("George"), Mel Blanc ("Mr. Spacely") and Jean Vander Pyl ("Rosie") are long dead. The real commentary would have come from the production team, but of course there would be the stories about Hanna and Barbera leaving the film because of their displeasure at how it was being run by the executives at Universal. Universal even today probably wouldn't want that.

So it's an example of time and technology. My dad took me to see "Jetsons: The Movie" (my mom got stuck with "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" since my dad was a fan of The Jetsons when it was on TV) in 1990, we owned it on VHS, and now here it is on DVD. Man, I hate to sound like countless other people, but I really am getting older. Nothing funereal about it at this point, of course, but it still fosters amazement.