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Viewing Report: Scrubs, Episode 1 “My First Day” Essay

Scrubs is a relatively new television series based in a hospital which is nothing new but the new spin on hospital drama is that it adds comedy to the formula, focusing more on peoples lives who work in the hospital and less on the medical side of the drama. Although the programme depends mostly on comedy to portray the lives of the people who live and work in the hospital, it uses it in such a way as to inform and preach a little on life in general and in what better place than a hospital, where life is what the doctors and nurses are trying to save.

The story of scrubs is very original as it is set in a hospital yet shows a side to hospital life you never see in other hospital dramas, that of the comedy and fun that is had as well as the humour that ties in with what can be a very morbid atmosphere. That’s what makes the idea such a good one. Hospital dramas are by their very nature to do with death so to put a comical spin on it creates a clever mix of reality in a hospital as well as the laughter surrounding the job.

The characters in “Scrubs” are portrayed as quite vulnerable firstly because they are young and secondly because they are all starting something new, their first job as part of their medical career. They are at the bottom of the ladder; however this creates a feeling of togetherness with the characters as you will be following them as the series continues. This follows the idea that a hospital drama is an old idea but by adding comedy and a different approach, that of young interns it creates a new view of the whole Hospital genre as well as attracting a different audience perhaps.

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Conflict in the programme as a general rule is between what could be seen as the good guys that of the interns new to the hospital and bad, that of the older experienced doctors and nurses. However as “Scrubs” tries to tell a moral story there is also conflict between the newbie’s, these conflicts are to do with growing up, and problems that everyone has to face. “Scrubs” uses the hospital setting as a boat to carry many moral messages. The first episode concerns that of change and of moving on.

Having watched many episodes, each one tends to take a problem and use a hospital situation to explain and solve the problem, always using a comical means to an end. The main conflicts are between old and young, doctors and nurses, staff and patients and male and female. There are seven main characters, with several supporting figures thrown in on a regular basis, and the writers try to play with all the possible permutations between them. Every conflict is made near the beginning of the episode and resolved by the end much like many episodic dramas.

The story of each episode is narrated by the main character, that of the male intern “JD” who ties together all of the characters. Everything is told from his viewpoint including his interpretation of events, often portrayed in the form of how it would happen in his head as well as flashbacks again from his memory. This is always done in a humorous way. Through his perspective he tracks the ups and downs of a collection of characters on a surgical service at the Scrubs General Hospital, most of whom are in their OR gear (scrubs).

The scenes rotate between the OR, the ER, the ward and the cafeteria, where all the story lines occur. Predictably, there is a mix of drama, romance, hormone excess, personal ambition and basic blood and guts, all served up in pretty over-the-top fashion, partly done in a way that creates comedy. The episode I watched was the “Pilot” and started as the characters begun their first jobs, hence you don’t join half way through anything and this gives you a chance to follow them. It’s a sitcom that’s actually funny. Second, it’s set in a hospital and still manages to be funny.

I stress this point due to the fact that there are so many sitcoms out there that try to be funny and follow a basic formula. “Scrubs” is different because the twisted narrative is unexpected. The opening of the “Pilot” and of all the episodes starts with a humorous scene to set up the day at the hospital, this is then followed by the opening titles and then usually by a long panning shot normally following the main character as he walks through the hospital, this is continuous and sets the hospital scene. From the offset the tone of the programme is set, with childish humour, rude gags and funny flashbacks.

All this creates a quick paced and over the top atmosphere for the characters to exist in. As the episodes continue they tend to lead towards a moral message that is delivered through clever visual effects, also done for comical effect and become more serious as the point of the episode reaches a climax. In the first few episodes, the show’s only major flaw is an overuse of the gimmicky fantasy sequences. It’s funny when a supervisor pontificates and all J. D. hears is “I’m a tool, I’m a tool. ” It’s funny when J. D. imagines himself as a deer caught in the headlights.

But when he gets seriously bad news and we see him hit on the head by a literal ton of bricks, it’s just an obvious reinforcement of a point the show has already made. It is almost as if the writers are keen to use as many ways possible to reinforce a point and this is sometimes to the shows detriment. This heavy reliance on fantasies, visual puns or quick punch lines is to underscore an emotion. “Sometimes a patient says something you never expect to hear,” J. D. says in a voiceover, just before a woman lying in a hospital bed announces: “I’m ready to die. ” Suddenly a delivery man pops in the room and says, “Delivery for Mr. Dorian! , and a ton of bricks falls on him.

At another point, when he feels alienated from Turk, who is busy bonding with other surgeons, J. D. imagines a ridiculously elaborate high-fiving ritual among them. The show takes some liberties found on few other sitcoms. For starters, there’s no canned laughter and no studio audience, so it seems the show has to work harder in honing each punch line. The time span of the show is effective, normally being a working day at the hospital starting in the morning and ending at the end of the characters hospital shifts, allowing for the viewer to follow the action and see it progress throughout a day.

The show is always grounded, however, in its hospital environment. Patients come in injured or sick. Not all of them can be helped, and not everyone cares that much about helping some. These bleak truths are not always the stuff of great comedy but can be good television. The show’s relationships in general are unusually fully formed. The romance between Carla and Turk, for example, is beset by miscommunication, insecurity, and pride, yet remains strong because of the compromises that they’re always willing to make. The sharpened banter between Dr. Cox and his ex-wife is informed by their lingering affection for one another.

Turk and J. D. , best friends since med school, constantly test one another’s patience and loyalty. At the center of all of these is the relationship between Dr’s. Cox and Dorian, J. D. desperately wants to be Dr. Cox’s proti?? gi??. Dr. Cox accuses him of acting like a smitten puppy, and rewards the newly minted doctor by ritualistically mocking him. Then, when J. D. ‘s character is least expecting it, Dr. Cox is allowed to grace the younger man with a shower of affection – before taking it all back. The end result is a sitcom unlike any other and creates watch ability and comedy at the same time

Each episode is wrapped up neatly and doesn’t leave you wanting more. As I mentioned before each episode tries to show a problem, develop that problem, show the downs to it through the plethora of characters and then by the shows end the problem is either fixed or fully known and all the loose ends are neatly tied. This is all done through the eyes of the lead J. D, who is a very realistic, quite shy and hard working intern always looking for compliments however he is surrounded by larger than life characters to give the show a very bold feel.

Part of this is due to that fact that the show is a comedy and to create humour there need to be large personalities and characters which compliment and antagonize each other. Therefore for the most part many of the characters in the show are not believable at all but what they do not do is fit into regular sitcom moulds, there is no tough guy, loud mouth or geek but instead a varied and original cast of characters. Although the sitcom is set in a hospital and the characters lives revolve around medicine, this is not the reason for the show.

However all the medical procedures seem realistic from a viewer’s point of view, the way “Scrubs” is filmed means that the facts don’t have to be correct as the storyline is not dependant on it although basic facts are adhered to such as the clothes the characters wear, the places they refer to and the time in which they stay at the hospital. The most impressive thing about “Scrubs” is the way in which the script is written and the clever filming and editing which is implemented to give the show a fast pace and a smooth, modern and funny feel to it.

The filming of it uses long developing opening shots with broad panning shots. You can tell from the filming also that it is shot using single camera techniques and this gives it that edge compared to other sitcoms filmed in front of live audiences. This way it means each scene can be tight and slick and gives the lines the characters read freshness to them. This is also in the writing which follows a template from show to show, each character is characterised by certain traits and this is carefully followed.

The evidence of this is the long monologues uttered by Dr. Cox and the rambling nonsense spoken by Dr. Reid. These speeches are so carefully crafted that they seem to come naturally from the actors as if it were their own words, all part of what makes a sitcom good. To conclude “Scrubs” as a show has dared to go where no other sitcom has done by combining the serious and stressful life of a hospital and medicine with the ordinary lives of the people in it, combining the serious with the less serious creating a unique comedy that has proven well, ratings wise in the US and in the UK.

It uses basic filming technique and very intellectual writing to capture a certain type of television viewer, one that enjoys the fast humour and witty remarks of the doctors and patients in the “Scrubs” hospital. That is the main reason why I chose “Scrubs” to analyse as I enjoy comedy yet need more than something that makes me laugh, a need something with a tale to tell and a moral to get across, not only does “Scrubs” do both but it also makes me feel better for watching it not guilty or ashamed to have done so.

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