Scrubs, E4 Kidnapped By The Kids, Channel 4
SO, FAREWELL then, JD. You were that young doctor bloke in Scrubs who went around having fantastical, amusing dream sequences, before saying something philosophical in a voiceover as one of your patients died, or was cured. You liked that blonde girl who used to be one of Roseanne's daughters, but not as much as you liked your best mate whom you were always hugging. Yes, truly that hospital programme which is known for being funnier than ER and not quite as soppy as Grey's Anatomy will never be the same, now that you, in your guise as amiable actor Zach Braff, have gone off to make lots more films in which you fall for kooky girls to the soundtrack of indie rock songs.
Oh, what's that you say? You're not quite gone? You're coming back? But why, then, were the last two episodes of Scrubs series eight an extended, sentimental goodbye to your character?
Ah, because it was supposed to be the last ever episode, I see. The producers, who had already staved off cancellation a number of times, thought that the show wouldn't be coming back, hence the episodes' title, "My Finale". But then somehow they got to do another series, rejigging the premise but keeping most of the characters, including Zach Braff for at least half a dozen episodes (to be shown here next year). Oh. So… not farewell then, I guess.
For Scrubs fans, it would have been a good send-off, bringing back a whole corridor of former characters, guest stars and old patients who magically appeared to smile beatifically at JD as he left for the final time. Only the keenest viewer could have remembered them all and only the strongest stomach could have endured the sappy montage which flashforwarded to JD's future wedding to Elliot (that blonde girl), parenthood, family Christmases and their offspring's eventual engagement to the child of Turk (the best mate; they hugged in delight).
It was all a bit much. The show has had its moments, but always teetered on the brink of sentimentality despite its own awareness of the genre's clichs.
"I thought it would be like one of those great old sitcom finales," mused JD self-referentially of his final day at work.
"You want feelings to be shared and hugs to flow," snapped grumpy Dr Cox, whose insistence on not giving in to JD's constant needy demands for love and approval had given the series a bit of an edge. But in the end, though he had to be tricked into it, even Dr Cox joined the love-in for his departing protg, extolling his virtues in a gushing tribute.
"You smell like a father figure!" exclaimed JD as he, yes, hugged him.
That's the problem with Scrubs: it wants to be something more profound than a cheesy sitcom, but everything's on the surface. You don't get to recognise for yourself that JD is seeking fatherly approval from his mentor or that his friendship with Turk is closer than either of their relationships with women, because it's all explicitly spelled out. Where's the funny in that?
A more positive outcome emerged in Kidnapped By The Kids, a daft documentary about forcing a workaholic father to focus on his family by sending them all to the countryside without a phone or computer. It was redeemed by the endearing youngsters, whose enthusiasm for the concept made it seem fresher than it sounded.