"We goin' to steak night. We gonna eat it right ..."
First off, ABC is really giving "Scrubs" some promo love, and it appears to have paid off with 6.8 million viewers for the Season 8 premiere -- with especially solid footing in the 18-49 demo ("The Mentalist" killed overall with 19.6 viewers ... seriously, when did that show become such a juggernaut?) That's respectable for a sitcom that's been on death watch since Season 2, and probably should be kaput thanks to NBC tossing around it with the comfort and care of a 5-year-old playing a game of Exploding Suicide Jumper with his G.I. Joes.
Will some newly found network feel-goodery translate into a winning season? "My Last Words" was certainly a nice start.
Again, I missed Courteney Cox's introduction as Dr. Kelso's Sacred Heart replacement, and because I didn't watch any of Season 7, I don't know if Kelso simply left or they had the Janitor impale him with the sharp end of a splintered broomstick. Two new interns also arrived -- Ed, played by Aziz Ansari and Denise, played by Eliza Coupe, both of whom should be familiar to "Flight of the Conchords" fans. Without their backstories, I expected to be lost during "Words," but instead, the episode was a simple setup dominated by J.D. (Zach Braff), Turk (Donald Faison) and a dying patient named George Valentine played by Glynn Turman (Mayor Clarence Royce from "The Wire," holla!)
The premise was about as straightforward as it gets: bromantic Wonder Twins J.D. and Turk are heading out to celebrate their annual Steak Night ritual -- complete with a wonderfully hilarious ditty and dance transcribed in the post title. On their way to clog arteries with delicious red meat, they talk shop with George, who unfortunately is alone in a hospital bed while near death. After grabbing him a last request brewsky, the pair puts Steak Night on the shelf and instead, spends time assuring George that it won't be painful when the white light comes.
It was the classic "Scrubs" formula -- J.D. and Turk connect telepathically and act like lovers, J.D. delivers a poignant moral message about having a final wonderful thought (which turns out to be George's last swig of a cold beer) before dying, and Death Cab For Cutie's "I Will Follow You Into the Dark" mournfully plays in case the melodrama weren't cranked up enough.
Like chubster Ben Gibbard's engagement to Zooey Deschanel, it's something that's way too easy to hate on. But it also feels ... so ... right.
Dang it if I haven't already seen this hospital death scene with Colin Hay instead of a Death Cab tune, or even better, the slow motion MILF shot with Heather Locklear instead of Mrs. David Arquette. The episode felt realistic and heartfelt, and well, that makes me care.
For one last lap with the Sacred Heart gang, I'll take some greatest hits rehash as long as the writing is sharp, funny and full of Kenny Loggins and Tony Shalhoub digs.
"Scrubs" had me at Steak Night.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, email@example.com