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‘Scrubs’ Dispenses Doses of Laughter

TIMES TELEVISION CRITIC

Never has draining a stomach been funnier than on NBC’s new “Scrubs.” All right, you have to be there.

“Scrubs” ranges from silliness to wonderful silliness as prime time’s first medical comedy that generates big laughs, its young protagonist starting his career as an intern in a chaotic teaching facility only a bit less twisted than the one in Paddy Chayefsky’s dark satire, “The Hospital.”

Joining J.D. (Zach Braff) on his terrifying first day are his best friend and fellow intern (Donald Faison) and a sassy female intern (Sarah Chalke).

Meanwhile, a caring nurse (Judy Reyes) looks after him, the chief of medicine (Ken Jenkins) orders him to turn away patients who don’t have insurance, and a caustic staff doctor at once torments him and dispenses sage advice: “If you push around a stiff, nobody will ask you to do anything.”

J.D.: “You’re like a father to me.”

Although the humor begins broadly, it grows on you as you adjust to its rhythms, and ultimately you hear yourself laughing out loud. This is easily NBC’s best new series. It’s also one of those distinctive comedies in which everything meshes, joining Braff and the rest of the likable cast with smart, creative writing that at one point pauses tenderly to reflect on the death of one of J.D.'s patients without becoming maudlin.

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“I’ll never forget that moment,” J.D. says about the man on a slab, “how he looked exactly the same, only completely different.”

It’s a nice moment in a premiere of many witty moments. Including that stomach.

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“Scrubs” premieres tonight at 8:30 on NBC. The network has rated it TV-PG (may be unsuitable for young children).


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