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Marc Mason is a freelance writer based in Tempe, AZ.

Saturday, September 11, 2004  
Legends For The Fall

Over the summer, I made the mistake of adding another TV show to watch that I hadn't before. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

One night, relaxing after a long and hideous day, I found myself sucked in by a marathon of SCRUBS being shown on NBC. It was so well-written, so strongly acted... God, was I pissed. Because I knew the ratings for the show were always a bit shaky, I found myself cringing inwardly. It was absurdly unique television, witty and smart, expecting the viewer to play on its level and refusing to back down and play dumb. Normally, this is a sure sign a show is doomed, particularly on network television. Immediately, I was addicted.

The new season is off to a tremendous start. Episode two last week was a gem, with a joke at the denouement that was both disgusting and subtle at the same time. One of the episode's plots revolved around a man arriving at the ER with a light bulb fully inserted and stuck in his rectum. Now, plenty of jokes were made about this predicament, and yet they still didn't cross the line into obvious or stupid. It was astonishing. Instead, the episode played out as a treatise on conflict resolution and receiving proper credit for doing good work, the light bulb playing an ultimate role in righting a wrong against the doctors who are able to eventually remove it without breaking or it putting the patient into surgery. It was brilliantly, awesomely done.

The show's cast is a terrific ensemble, having found its rhythm at an early point, I'd guess. The star turn belongs to supporting cast member John C. McGinley, an outstanding character actor for years who has found the role of a lifetime as the mentor to the younger doctors on the show. Every scene, every bit of dialogue from his mouth, is a revelation of just how good an actor an be when paired with the right role.

Adding film actress Heather Graham has not been nearly as intrusive as I would have figured upon, and the show has made good use of her "outsider" status, having her build a full relationship with only Sarah Chalke's Elliot while their friendship creates tension with the rest of the cast. It's the perfect way to blend her in to the show.

It's also worthy to note that Zach Braff's success with GARDEN STATE hsn't gone to hie head, as he continues his low-key approach to the show and his willingness to humiliate himself at the drop of a hat. SCRUBS is, without any doubt in my mind, the best written comedy on the air right now. I just hope it sticks around.

3:22 PM

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