Saturday, July 9, 2011

Scrubs Episode #4 - "My Cake"

This blog entry is my review of the fifth best episode of the TV series "Scrubs."  You can read my write-ups of the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth and tenth best episodes to get caught up.  Number seven will be provided last.

At the start of the episode, JD's brother Dan (played by Tom Cavanagh) showed up at the apartment with tell JD their father died.  JD spends the episode trying to deal with the loss.  Meanwhile Turk deals with a diabetes diagnosis.

John Ritter made a couple cameos as Sam Dorian, father of JD and Dan.  In September 2003 Ritter passed away due to an aortic dissection.  "My Cake," one of the first episodes of Season 4, deals with this tragic loss through JD's eyes.  Anyone who has lost a parent can relate to some part of this episode.

After the funeral Dan promises to "be there" for JD, then subsequently spends the rest of the episode drinking beer in the bathtub.  In the series we never meet Mrs. Dorian so JD has neither her nor his brother to help him cope with Sam's death.  He goes to work and gets support from Elliot, a lack of terror from Janitor, and a warm hug from...Chuck Woolery (!?!?). 

While JD seeks support from an unwilling Dr. Cox, Turk experiences diabetic-type symptons but refuses to see a physician.  Dr. Molly Clock, a visiting psychiatrist expertly played by Heather Graham (she doesn't get the credit she deserves for being a good actress), tricks Turk into self-diagnosing himself.  But he's Big Bad Turk!  He's infallable!  He spends the rest of the episode trying to figure out why he can't bring himself to tell Carla.

But that story and the Janitor almost convincing Dr. Kelso that he's slowly losing his memory pale in comparison to something as heavy as the death of Sam Dorian.  Eventually Dr. Cox realizes that JD deeply needs support and he's the only one who can provide it.  This moment is the first in the series in which Cox directly shows genuine support to JD.  In the first season Cox references JD to the Board of Directors as an intern with worlds of potential, and throughout the first three seasons he helps JD diagnose patients because it's his job.  But he had never "been there" for JD. 

As we're coming down to the top three episodes of the series, one theme I've noticed is the emphasis placed on relationships among the characters.  I would classify "Scrubs" as a comedy well before considering it as a drama, but the dramatic moments add something that most other comedies lack.  In this episode we are shown how JD looks to specific people for support - his relationship with Cox, with his brother, with Elliot (their relationship could be classified as "absent" at this point in the series)...but we don't see Turk interact with JD much because of his own plotline.  For goodness sake, they sang a song called "Guy Love" in the musical episode!  How come they don't spend the entire episode in one long dialogue?

At such crucial moments in their lives (death and diabetes), they barely have screen time together.  Is this a hole in the plot?  I think it's necessary because we need to see Cox come in to save the day.  We also need to see Turk genuinely rely on Carla in a difficult time for the first time.  Turk and JD cannot be there for each other because they're both going through challenges separately and cannot be emotionally strong for the other.

And that's where Dr. Cox rises to the occasion to "be there" for JD.  At the end he pulls Dan out of the bath, they grab some beers, and then have a serious talk with JD in the only way possible - watching college football.  We find out that Cox is genuinely proud of JD.  It's important, rare praise from JD's mentor when he needed it the most in his life. 

A couple paragraphs ago I mentioned that the relationship between JD and Elliot was "absent."  Barbie still hasn't forgiven JD for making her break up with Sean for himself, then dumping her almost immediately.  But who was there pushing Dr. Cox to support JD?  None other than Elliot.  Even though she hated JD at that time, to the point that they were barely talking, she still cared for him enough to indirectly help JD.  Is there a doubt these two belonged together at the end of the series?

Chuck Woolery: "'Love Connection' was never cancelled; it's just not TV anymore.  I still do the occasional episode in my basement with singles from the neighborhood!" <Carla and Molly look puzzled> Chuck: "I'm NOT crazy." <Carla and Molly laugh along unconvincingly>

Cox: "I have a plan today." Elliot: "...which is...?" Cox: "Yeah, unfortunately the first part of the plan is to NOT share it with people who annoy me.  Wanna hear the second part?" Elliot: "Sure." Cox: "I can't.  My hands are tied by the first part."

Cox: "Barbie, what do you want me to do?" Elliot: "I don't know, hug him?" Cox, astounded: "'ve MET me before, right?"

Cox: "Let's break down the kid's support system, shall we?  He's got ME, an emotionally-crippled narcissist.  And he's got YOU, an emotionally-crippled narcissist who's soaking in a tub of what by now HAS to be mostly your own urine." Dan: "I believe the ratio has certainly shifted that way, yes." Cox: "And I have GOT to believe that the two of us together, TOGETHER Dan, we can make it at least halfway to one legitimate adult."

Cox: "Now talk." JD, well-known for a lack of sports knowledge: "What do you want me to talk about, the pros and cons of blitzting a corner on third and long?" <JD thinks to himself, "thank you 'Football for Dummies!'">

All families are unique.  The Dorian's are apparently a family who break the news of death with cake.  Cox shares grief over beers and football.  The Turkelton's play hide-and-seek with minor information, such as a diagnosis of diabetes.  But what's important is that families are there for each other.  JD needed help and Dr. Cox provided it.  We knew there was a reason JD always looked up to Perry.

No comments:

Post a Comment