Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Posts Tagged ‘Scrubs’

CJ’s Best TV Shows of the Decade

Posted by CJ Cregg on January 5, 2010

OK, friends.  Time for the big one.  Which TV shows will we remember many years from now as some of the best of the decade?  Which ones truly captured the American public?  Here are my humble musings.  This is, of course, not the same as my personal list of favorite shows, but unsurprisingly, colored by the shows I like the best.

The very first American Idol

1) American Idol-I don’t know if anyone really watches American Idol anymore, but chats with some of my family members suggest that they do.  I clearly remember the beginning of my college career, though, when it was all anyone talked about.  Much like Survivor is to the “extreme reality TV” genre, American Idol is the decade trendsetter of the “reality competition” genre.  A mix of drama, talent, and kicking people off of things are the trademarks of this genre, and American Idol started it all with Kelly Clarkson.

2) Survivor-I readily admit to never having actually watched this show (and I call myself a TV blogger), but Survivor kicked off the “extreme reality TV” craze with a bang.  And what could be more 2000s than extreme reality TV?  (I say extreme because MTV’s the Real World premiered in the early 1990s as what is undoubtedly reality TV, but I think Survivor is a different genre.)  Survivor inspired numerous spinoffs (like I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here or the Amazing Race), and I distinctly remember it being the most talked-about show in the beginning of my high school career.

3) CSI-I must have bad taste, because my top three shows of the decade are all shows I never really watch, but CSI in all of its various iterations are constantly at the top of the ratings charts.  This is THE crime procedural.  Mr. Feeny explains it more eloquently than I can, perhaps because he’s actually watched the show, but people love this stuff.  And this is the trendsetter.

4) Lost-Few shows have taken the American public on such a thrill ride as Lost.  Moreover, no one I know just casually watches the show.  The people that do watch are hooked.  And the show is designed so that you can’t watch just one episode.  In fact, Lost may be the winner in the contest of ‘shows I picked up on DVD and watched all the seasons in a ridiculously short time.’  You can’t do it otherwise.  And though I could whine about how the show has gotten too confusing, and what the heck is the smoke monster anyway, I’m anxiously awaiting the final season to see how the writers will wrap it up.

5) The West Wing-I think people will remember this show.  I really do.  It was (for the most part) fantastically well done, and a balance of relationships and politics gave it a wider appeal than it otherwise might have.  It’s also my favorite show ever.  I’ve raved about it other places, so I’ll spare you, loyal readers, here.

6) Desperate Housewives-This is one of the most watched TV shows in the world, according to economist Charles

Desperate AND juicy

Kenney.  Premiering in 2004 and currently airing season 6, Desperate Housewives was a real crowd pleaser.  I remember the race to the TV room on Sunday nights my freshman year of college to watch the first season.  Kind of like a modern-day “Feminine Mystique,” shows that explore the secret lives of housewives are now commonplace.  Do you think Bravo’s multi-locale and extremely popular The Real Housewives of… would even exist if not for ABC’s Desperate Housewives?

7) The Sopranos-Yah.  Never watched this show.  But lots of people did.  And talked about it a lot.  And loved it.

8 ) Sex and the City-I have to admit, this show kind of uncomfortably straddles the decade divide.  But I think the SATC movie will help this show be remembered in this decade.  What else can we say about SATC other than it made 30 the new 20?

9) The Office-A show that is still going strong and shows no signs of quitting.  It has a very loyal fanbase and the dialogue and shot style has taken hold in other shows as well (see The Modern Family).

10) 24-Everyone knows who Jack Bauer is.  Even if you never watch the show.

Honorable Mention

Scrubs

House

How I Met your Mother

Friday Night Lights

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CJ’s Best Characters of the Decade

Posted by CJ Cregg on December 14, 2009

Hugh Laurie as Gregory House

I use the same criteria as Mr. Feeny.  That is, when looking back, which characters will we remember in 20 or 40 years?  As a result, some of my personal favorite characters did not make the list.  I’ll write up my top 10 characters of all time when the insanity of finals are over.  Of course, my list here is colored by the shows I actually watched.  I have (brace yourselves) never seen an episode of The Sopranos, so even though I recognize that the show was a pretty big deal, I don’t feel justified adding a character from it to my list.  So here’s what I think are the most memorable characters of the 00s.

1) Jed Bartlet (The West Wing)-Bartlet for America, indeed.  A charismatic leader, principled person, and, at times, sarcastic snob.  Flawlessly portrayed by Martin Sheen, Jed Bartlet is the American president.  Prone to poetic monologues, Jed Bartlet is, however, undeniably human.  Viewers get to watch him struggle with tough issues and moral dilemmas from the realities of sending troops to war, hate crimes, and every other possible problem in between.  And this is the important part.  We get to see him struggle.  We understand his pain.

2) Jack Bauer (24)-This show is not in my regular viewing rotation.  Nonetheless, I remember working in the basement of my dorm (CRC what?) in college and constantly having to run away from that stupid ticking clock noise from 24.  In addition, Jack Bauer was constantly evoked in my political science classes when the subject of torture or harsh interrogation techniques came up, demonstrating that this character captured the imagination and interest of many young viewers.  I myself will tip my hat to Bauer and 24‘s writers for tackling difficult moral dilemmas.

3) Dr. Gregory House (House)House premiered in 2004 and has been going strong since then.  House’s severe and unconventional antics have made him famous in TVland, and Hugh Laurie is fantastic as the title character.  His struggles with illness and addiction make him a compelling person, and viewers are constantly waiting to see how far beneath House’s rough exterior they will be able to get.  Furthermore, wikipedia tells me that House was the most watched show in the world in 2008.  I think that justifies putting the best character from the show on my list.

4) John ‘J.D.’ Dorian (Scrubs)-OK, so Mr. Feeny is right that the ninth season of this show was just a really bad

Zach Braff as JD

idea.  But I find J.D. and most of his castmates touching and humorous throughout the previous eight seasons.  Premiering in 2001, Scrubs has been around for most of the 00s, making the main character an appropriate choice.  J.D.’s internal monologues, musings, failed relationships, and bro-mance with Turk make him a great character that has lasted throughout the decade.

5) Michael Scott (The Office)-Another show that isn’t on my weekly rotation, but the TV critic has to be cognizant of the fact that this is one of the most continuously popular shows on TV.  Mr Feeny does a better job of explaining everything that’s going on with this character, so I’ll just say that I think Steve Carell is funny.

I’m admittedly quite sad there are no women on my list.  Oh well.  What’s a girl to do?

But to restate, my personal list of favorite characters will look much different from this one.  You’ll have to wait to see that, though.

Honorable Mention

Barney Stinson (How I Met your Mother)

Coach Taylor (Friday Night Lights)

Hurley (Lost)

CJ Cregg (The West Wing)

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The New Scrubs: Worst Television Idea Ever?

Posted by Mr. Feeny on November 27, 2009

That’s a bold statement. And I’m pretty sure there at least 10 ideas worse than this. But Scrubs‘ decision to come back for a ninth season and completely change their premise is certainly the stupidest of this season.

I was a huge fan of Scrubs in its early seasons. It was easily one of the funniest sitcoms on television earlier this decade. Quirky, clever, funny…just a joy to watch and to quote. But as the series continued, it became less and less humorous. Aside from “My Musical,” there really wasn’t a must-watch episode over the last three seasons. Nothing that I really want to watch again, while I could watch the early ones over and over on DVD.

The last season in particular introduced a slew of new interns in an attempt jump start the show. But it didn’t work. Ratings lagged as did the jokes. So, when JD said goodbye to Sacred Heart in the presumptive series finale, it was bittersweet. Scrubs had a long run and clearly overstayed its welcome. After all, NBC canceled the show, only to get new life on ABC. That clearly didn’t work the wonders it was supposed to, so the show ended.

Or so you thought. But once again, the show’s producers pulled out the defibrillator and brought Scrubs back to life again. Still on ABC but with a completely new setting and mostly new cast of characters. Technically, the show returns this Tuesday (8pm CT), but it might as well be called a premiere. The show you knew and once loved is gone. Now, it’s Scrubs: Med School. Though still by its original title (the producer Bill Lawrence — now working on Cougar Town — has said he wished it had a different name…so why doesn’t it?? They just keep calling it “The New Scrubs”)

You’ll see Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke a little bit early this season as JD and Elliott, but they’ve mostly left the show. So has the Janitor (with his starring role on ABC’s The Middle) and Carla and all the other little characters. The only long-time characters you’ll see week in and week out are Dr. Cox and Turk. Both great characters on the side, but taking over the whole show, along with some new students? And what would make them become instructors? And will viewers like the new female Zach Braff taking over?

Something missing from these photos...

Something's missing from these photos...

There are two parallels I can think of for this type of Hail Mary pass. Norman Lear did it (reluctantly) with All in the Family. That classic sitcom ended in 1979 on what seemed like a natural note. Gloria and Mike moved away. That’s that. The Bunker family separated, nothing left to show. But the network wasn’t ready to get rid of their lovable curmudgeon, so they turned it into Archie Bunker’s Place. Most of the episodes were set inside Archie’s bar and he was basically the only character that returned. Jean Stapleton’s Edith was phased out and eventually killed off. The show did somehow last four years, but it was never close to the success of the original.

A decade after Archie Bunker’s Place ended, CBS tried it again. This time with The Golden Girls. Bea Arthur’s marriage ended the series’ run, but the network kept it going with the other three women on The Golden Palace. Although it helped launch Don Cheadle’s career, it did very little else. It frankly lost all the humor of the original without Dorothy, not to mention the premise of four retirees was lost. Now they were running a hotel in Miami. At least Archie’s made sense…The Golden Palace just came out of nowhere.

Both those shows marketed themselves as something new, though. Can anyone think of a long-running show that just completely changed everything and continued as the original? Not just characters…many have done that. But setting and premise to boot. I’d like to think this will finally be the end of a now-embarrassing sitcom, but Scrubs has lasted so long it’s hard to bet against it.

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