Friday, February 02, 2007


What about Bob?

By Edward Copeland
I was a latecomer to Scrubs — I didn't begin watching until Season 2, though I later caught up. It didn't take me long to become a fan since at this point in my life it's physically beyond my capabilities to watch a sitcom with a laughtrack or studio audience. Fortunately, Scrubs was funny, well written and had a great cast.

As with most fans, I agree that the Emmys' continued ignoring of the great John C. McGinley is an outrage that at this point I've given up hope will ever be corrected. However, I became just as big a fan of Ken Jenkins as Dr. Bob Kelso, who doesn't get as much fan, critical or award love as I feel he should. When the writers give him a rare episode where he can really shine, boy does he deliver, transforming what could be a one-note hard-ass stereotype into something more, such as in the Season 2 episode "My Brother, My Keeper" where he had to recognize that his former mentor and friend (and complete antithesis of Kelso) played by Dick Van Dyke couldn't cut it anymore as a doctor without endangering lives. Last night, the series gave him his best episode yet (and one of the best episodes of the series period in what has been, to my eyes, a rather lackluster season. Even the previous "My Musical," while fun, seemed old hat to me (and really, it almost seemed as if it was a ripoff of the Chicago Hope episode where Adam Arkin's character suffered a similar brain aneurysm and started seeing musical numbers. Besides, Buffy the Vampire Slayer's "Once More With Feeling" episode always will be the gold standard in musical episodes of nonmusical series and perhaps everyone else should give up trying).

Last night's "His Story IV" though not only let us see an episode through Kelso's eyes as he questioned his usefulness and friendlessness, it even managed to throw in a hilarious debate on the Iraq war with the hospital turning against one another over whether it was a good idea or not because of the presence of a wounded Iraq war veteran.

I suppose it shouldn't have been a surprise that Elliot (Sarah Chalke) would be outed as a Republican, given her pampered past. It also was completely appropriate that the superficial J.D. (Zach Braff) wouldn't have an opinion on the subject and be forced (in a hilarious sight gag) to pick up a book called "The Iraq War for Dummies" and to wonder how there could still be 400 pages to go after Bush gave his "Mission Accomplished" speech.

As expected, the ever put-upon Ted (Sam Lloyd) would do his best to take both sides. However, this episode was all about Bob — and Jenkins really sunk his teeth into this rare moment in the sun for both comedy and pathos. Most interestingly, the episode never bothered to give Kelso a take on the war because he's so self-centered that the only thing that matters to him about Iraq is if the debate is disrupting the hospital.

Cheers to Ken Jenkins, creator Bill Lawrence and episode co-writer Mike Schwartz for finally giving me the Kelso-centric episode I've longed for. Hopefully, the remainder of this season will continue to pick up because it's really been suffering this year when compared to My Name Is Earl, which keeps becoming more inventive than I'd ever thought its premise would allow and give Jaime Pressly that Emmy already!

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I enjoy Earl, and I enjoy Scrubs. And I have tried - God, have I tried - not to be reduced to begging. But I cannot, in good conscience, maintain the charade.

Imagine a goregous cut of sirloin, slow marinated in and char-grilled to perfection, then filleted and sandwiched between two slices of bread. Now imagine if someone comes along, dismantles the sandwich, eats the two slices of bread and leaves the steak on the plate.

Earl and Scrubs are fine, funny shows. The Office, which airs between the two, is quite simply, the best show on television today, and quite possibly, the best comedy series ever put on television. You heard me right. From week to glorious week, just when you think it can't get any better, it invariably does. It's astonishing.

You may be too stubborn for these words to take any effect. All I can say is, thank you from the bottom of my heart for forcing me to watch Freaks and Geeks - and you did a wonderful thing, and will be forever grateful to you for prodding me out of the darkness and into the light (of course, I fell in love with it). You can continue to eat the bread and leave the steak to spoil, and I will think no less of you - but man oh man, the fun that you are missing....
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