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Scrubs Season Two Episode 5 Review: “My New Coat” Can’t Find Its Rhythm



On paper, “My New Coat” is an easy episode of Scrubs to get excited about, being credited to the same writer/director combination behind season one’s “My Old Lady”. Immediately establishing itself as an episode about identity is even more promising – which makes it a major bummer when the episode mostly fails to deliver on its ideas through the first and second acts of the episode, stumbling its way to low key climatic moments that just don’t have enough humor, or more importantly pathos, to carry rather light plots for 23 minutes. While it’s a definite improvement over “My Big Mouth” – save for one wildly disappointing Elliot story – it’s still nothing memorable, a perfectly middling, forgettable episode of Scrubs more notable for its missed opportunities than for the few moments it really nails.

“My New Coat” hammers home what “My Big Mouth” made abundantly clear: gender conflict is not Scrubs‘ strong suit.

The central conceit of “My New Coat” is solid enough; spending a lot of time in a hospital allows one to play pretend as anyone they want. There’s a freedom to spending the majority of your time interacting with strangers: JD wears a white coat and suddenly feels recognized, Cox is free to be an asshole to whoever he wants, and the Janitor can convince anyone that he too, is an actual doctor. When the threads of the episode lean towards the ways we reinvent ourselves professionally, “My New Coat” has a surprising amount of legs – it’s when “My New Coat” shifts towards the rippling effects of these personas on our personal lives that “My New Coat” loses its balance a bit.

My New Coat

Perhaps the strangest pairing of the episode is Elliot and Turk: although JD’s initial observations serve their typical role as the framing device for the story to follow, Elliot and Turk’s adventure down Chauvinist Lane dominates more than half the episode time. After Elliot has a one night stand with a cute doctor, she’s labeled as the hospital slut by the entire staff, from the nursing staff all the way up to Kelso. The surgical gang in particular is fascinated with Elliot’s perceived promiscuity, continuing the forgettable thread from the previous episode, with Elliot replacing Bonnie (who has disappeared from sight) and sex replacing work performance.

“My New Coat” hammers home what “My Big Mouth” made abundantly clear: gender conflict is not Scrubs’ strong suit, being both a product of its time and a show that’s so capable of telling other, meaningful stories about life in a hospital. It is absolutely a major blind spot the show only occasionally approaches at addressing in a meaningful way; most of the time when it tries to construct stories around the dichotomy between men and women in the medical industry, however, it falls flat on its face. “My New Coat” is no exception, and feels particularly sour coming on the heels of “My Big Mouth” – Elliot getting excited at being labeled the hospital slut is the kind of idea that seems empowering at first, until Scrubs spends the rest of the episode cracking jokes at the systemic sexism that allows Elliot to feel being known for her sexuality makes her more popular at work.

To be honest, the Elliot material in “My New Coat” is nowhere near as vicious as the horribly thin characterization of Bonnie in “My Big Mouth”; but it’s no real improvement, either, as Elliot once again has to use her shame to teach Turk extremely obvious lessons about his behavior and privilege. And neither of these episodes leans into the unique position of privilege and disadvantage Turk is in as a prominent black surgeon – which I’m actually thankful for, because racial humor is the only thing Scrubs does worse than gender dynamics.

Yet, it still leaves a bad taste to watch Turk completely ignore Elliot’s pleas to earn his respect, and only realizes he’s being a pig once a doctor he’s admonished for being extremely short points it out to him. Man-splaining, y’all!

My New Coat

It’s also strange how little a role Carla once again plays in Turk’s story; as the senior member of the central quartet who also works in an extremely marginalized, but critical, role at hospitals, Carla would have quite the perspective on the struggles Elliot is facing, as well as the damage she’s doing to herself in the position Elliot’s excited to occupy around the emergency wing. Instead, Carla exists a device to move plot along, a bystander in a story that would greatly benefit from her perspective as the true nucleus at the center of Sacred Heart.

Unsurprisingly, the most effective moments of the episode once again belong to Dr. Cox, who bypasses the regulations for a clinical trial, in order to admit one of Elliot’s patients into it. When it is revealed the woman was actually eligible and wasn’t initially admitted to administrative error, Cox shrugs and says he would’ve done it anyway, and enjoyed watching Kelso sweat and squirm over it.

A subtle callback to the final moments of “My Case Study”, Cox throwing the middle finger up to The Man in the name of healing paints another stark picture between the optimism of young people trying to figure out who they are, and a grizzled vet who has condemned himself to play the same role forever. Cox is stubborn by nature, and vehemently attaches himself to a performative persona to hide the deeper anxieties of a man who knows he’s the one holding himself back. To know the hard truths about yourself is one thing; it’s allowing that knowledge to limit you that ultimately hurt the most.

My New Coat

In “My New Coat”, that attitude is held up as a shining beacon; but Scrubs is sharper than this, planting the seeds for deeper, more dangerous conflicts with Kelso later in the season, and the series. Ted’s right to be extremely nervous mediating their interactions, or trying to stand up to either one of them: Kelso and Cox are two men who think they understand who they are, forcing themselves into dissonance with people they have more in common with then they might think. As Scrubs matures, it will continue to unravel these characters and redefine their relationship: it’s fun to see those seeds being planted this early on, hinting towards more personal, complex explorations of a relationship defined in pretty stark, one-dimensional terms in season one.

However, those four or five minutes at the end of the episode can’t erase the presence of the first eighteen: and it’s in those scenes where “My New Coat” fails, unable to deliver the big laughs or the big emotional moments the series is remembered for. As Scrubs settles into its sophomore season, the growing pains are real, and “My New Coat” fumbles its way through these larger, more ambitious stories and societal reflections. Large swaths of this episode are completely forgettable and small portions are down right cringe worthy; but in those few, fleeting moments of glory, it’s clear Scrubs is ever so slowly finding its voice, a promising sign for the season to follow.

Other thoughts/observations:

  • happy birthday, Ted!
  • this week in JD’s A Little Shitbird: he moves his cue ball while playing pool with Turk, a move he is thoroughly unsurprised by.
  • “Domo Arigato, Dr. Amato!”
  • this episode aired in a time where Lil’ Bow Bow dropping the “Lil'” from his name was a big deal.
  • Kelso: “You couldn’t scare a child.” Ted: “Who would want to??!!”

A TV critic since the pre-Peak TV days of 2011, Randy is a critic and editor formerly of Sound on Sight, Processed Media, TVOvermind, Pop Optiq, and many, many others.

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Watchmen Season 1 Episode Four Review: “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own”

A thick metatextual layer coats an episode of enigmatic introductions and underwhelming mystery building.



Watchmen If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own

Near the end of “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own,” trillionaire Lady Trieu accuses Will Reeves of employing “passive-aggressive exposition” and tells him he’s being “too cute by a half-measure” teasing out his identity to his granddaughter. It is one of many meta moments in a Watchmen episode where Damon Lindelof’s anxieties and fears constantly bleed through the text of dystopian superheroes; and while that certainly makes for fascinating television to dissect and theorize about, it doesn’t exactly make for a neat, satisfying hour of television. In fact, much of it feels like its explicitly doubling down on its most esoteric qualities, drowning out much of its interesting character work and world building, with an ungodly amount of narrative winking and hand gesturing in the place of a coherent, driven plot.

Watchmen‘s density appears to be coming into conflict with its narrative momentum more often than it should, which could prove troublesome in its climactic moments.

It’s not necessarily bad television; but many of the bread crumbs it drops throughout the hour make “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” feel both bloated and empty through most of the episode. Even Lady Trieu, whose introduction is unsurprisingly strange and intriguing, falls victim to this by the end of the hour, becoming the author’s overt mouthpiece in perhaps the most strained exchange of the young series. After a fascinating introduction, where she convinces a couple to sell their house and land by bringing them a test tube baby (one she had made from their DNA), Trieu’s later scenes are a bit more grating, the farther they move away from defining her character, and closer to becoming a sounding board for self-critique.

Watchmen If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own

Lady Trieu’s arc through “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” is emblematic of the entire hour: rich subtext obfuscated by an unwieldy amount of foreshadowing and stalling. This is obviously by design – Will establishes we’re three days away from whatever event is coming, and Veidt’s timeline reveals his scenes are three years from the present – but instead of leaning on character and theme to pass the time, the fourth episode of Watchmen doubles down on objects nodding towards what’s to come. An object falling from the sky, a mention of a horseshow Veidt “doesn’t need yet,” the direct mention of nothing being able to take down the Milennium Clock, “save for a direct hit from a nuclear blast”; every object and line in “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” is a nod towards what’s to come – which, in retrospect, may make this the most important episode of the series.

But in the present, it just makes the whole affair feel a bit clumsy in its deliberate, straightforward delivery; to borrow from the episode’s symbolism, we never see any of the acorns grow into trees in this hour. We learn facts like Looking Glass is a conspiracy theorist, and Trieu’s daughter is probably some kind of lab creation who has her mother’s memories of Vietnam, and Veidt pull babies out of the water to make his clone servants in a steampunk machine; all enthralling imagery, all stepped in some of the show’s deeper thematic material about identity and purpose – but it feels laborious, and hollow, in the isolated context of “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own.”

Watchmen If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own

At some point, all of this will mean something; even the vigilante who lubes himself up to slide through sewer grates will hold some significance in this world, even if it’s only a cheeky side note across this hour. I just wish I felt more emotional purpose to this episode: in those terms, most of “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” is just inert, a middle-chapter episode that makes no qualms about its position as the episode positioned between the series’ beginning, and the start of its climb to the season’s dramatic apex; but that honesty comes at the cost of everything feeling just a bit trite.

The most interesting parts of “If You Don’t Like My Story” end up being in the margins; details like Angela and Lady’s shared Vietnamese heritage (and language), Will’s fears about what’s to come, and Looking Glass’s questionable living quarters stand out among the episode’s always-lush aesthetics. Even more interesting are the metatextual connotations; Lindelof as “master and not the maker,” the cheeky episode titles and closing conversations, and the synchronicity between timelines, as the episode ends three days from whatever is about to happen on Earth, while Ozymandias’ escape is clearly nearing its own apex (and with each episode suggesting another year interned, suggests he’s three years away from his own release).

Watchmen If You Don't Like My Story, Write Your Own

It all amounts to a collection of interesting moments, stranded in a forgettable episode unable to mark any important narrative shifts; it’s all intrigue and ominous language, muting the impact of Lady Trieu’s showy introduction. Piles of bloody clone bodies and Will’s pointed disappointment in “betraying” Angela makes for fascinating images and moments, but as a part of Watchmen‘s whole, feels a lot more weightless than what came before it, and what appears to be coming on the horizon.

It’s a small misstep, but an important one: Watchmen‘s density appears to be coming into conflict with its narrative momentum more often than it should, which could prove troublesome in its climactic moments. Tick tock, tick tock, I suppose – hopefully next week’s episode offers a bit more clarity and cohesion than what “If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own” has to offer.

Other thoughts/observations:

Who would’ve thought Watchmen would challenge Mom for the title of “most engaging, mature female lead characters on the same show”?

Lot to pull from the meaning of the episode’s title: it could hint to characters taking control of their own narratives (Ozymandias reframing his imprisonment as a challenge, Angela learning about her family’s history and grandfather’s mission, Laurie’s legacy running around “yahoos”in her past), or it is a middle finger to Lindelof’s critics. Or it is what Lindelof probably told himself every day that Alan Moore would tell him if they ever got to speak to each other.

Few scenes on TV are more disturbing than watching Veidt casually discarding infants around in the open water. Or making them into very nude adults in his steampunk magic machine.

“So you’re building the eighth wonder of the world?” “No, we’re building the first wonder of the new world.” THAT’S NOT OMINOUS OR ANYTHING.

Senator Keane clearly knows he shouldn’t be naming Angela while she’s in her Sister Night uniform… and yet he keeps doing it. Almost like he’s making a point about it… it is most certainly too clever, by at least a half-measure.

So if Ances-Tree was able to trace the “unknown” Will to his parents, why would the program think the whole family died in the fire? If Will died, he wouldn’t be a grandfather – and since her family tree shows no siblings for him, it would seem natural that he, in fact, did not die in the fire. Not a big thing, but it’s a point of logic that stuck out in the moment.

So either Lady Trieu is trying to kill Dr. Manhattan or create time travel? Those are my best two guesses, as if I have any clue what the fuck is actually going on here.

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‘Sesame Street’ at 50: A one-of-a-Kind Tradition



Sesame Street, as of this weekend, has been on the air for 50 years. Like no other work of popular culture, with the possible exception of Pixar Animation Studios, the show has cracked the very difficult task of appealing to the sensibilities of both adults and children, with the same bit of entertainment. 

Between the Sesame Street 50th anniversary – occasioned this weekend with a somewhat underwhelming TV special– and the arrival of the new biopic of Mr. Rogers, this is a big month for nostalgia about beloved, long-running children’s entertainment of the past. 

An educational show that’s also entertaining, having created indelible characters human and Muppet alike, Sesame Street occupies a place unlike anything else America has ever produced. 

Many people experience Sesame Street exactly twice: When they first watch it as children, and then again, decades later when they watch it with their own children. This is due largely to the show’s style, underlying values and general sensibility being so timeless, but also because the show re-uses old material so often. It doesn’t hurt that, in the modern era, many of the best Sesame Street moments live on YouTube. 

At its best, the series’ scenes have the timing of the very best comedy sketches, such as “mystery box” bit with Kermit the Frog and Cookie Monster: 

And of course, there’s also stuff to make you cry. Most notably, of course, the Mr. Hooper scene: 

And the famous Snuffy reveal from 1985: 

The 50th anniversary, of course, means that Sesame Street began in 1969, and yes, this show that nearly universally found its way into the homes all over the world was very much a creation of the counterculture- one of its most enduring, in fact.

Street Gang, Michael Davis’ 2008 book, is the definitive history of the show, depicting how Jim Henson, Joan Ganz Cooney and the rest of the original crew developed and sustained the show. There was also the 2015 documentary I Am Big Bird, in which Spinney told the stories of his years in the Big Bird suit, his sometimes contentious relationship with Henson, and the episode in which he was considered for a spot on the doomed Challenger space shuttle. 

And while Sesame Street has been much parodied, no one has ever done it better than the Broadway musical Avenue Q, which debuted in 2003. Featuring Muppet-like puppets and a Sesame Street-like setting, the show may have been uncommonly raunchy, but its underlying values of acceptance and friendship ultimately weren’t that different from those of its inspiration. 

'Sesame Street' at 50

While Sesame Street has endured for a half-century, its future is somewhat in flux. In 2016, the show’s first-run episodes moved from their longtime home of PBS to the premium channel HBO, although PBS still shows the second run, arriving there nine months after the first. 

This led to some hand-wringing back when it was first announced, although it’s pretty clear the show’s main target audience of preschoolers doesn’t know from first-run and second-run episodes,  the series always includes lots of vintage material even in its “new” episodes. Also, the new Sesame Street material that goes viral – most notably, its frequent kid-friendly TV parodies- always go up on YouTube immediately, along with so much of the classic stuff. And the HBO deal gave Children’s Television Workshop a cash infusion that allowed them to produce more episodes per season. 

Next year, another change is planned, per an announcement last month: The first-run Sesame Street episodes will debut not on HBO proper but rather on HBO Max, AT&T and Warner Media’s new streaming service that will launch next May. For those who care about seeing first-run episodes, this puts the new shows not only on a streaming service, but the most expensive one. 

'Sesame Street' at 50

On the bright side, the HBO Max deal includes streaming access to the entire 50 years of Sesame Street’s back catalog. Plus, the service is planning spin-offs of Sesame Street including, per The Verge, “a live-action late-night parody hosted by Elmo.”

However it’s consumed in the future, Sesame Street occupies a place that’s all by itself in the history of children’s entertainment, one enjoyed now by three generations of children, along with their parents.

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Sesame Street Celebrates 50 Years with an Underwhelming Special



Sesame Street 50 Year Anniversary

Sesame Street turns 50 years old this week, and for the occasion the show’s current home, HBO, showed a special Saturday night, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the show’s human and puppet casts of the past and present. 

The anniversary show, while it contains some decent nostalgia moments, feels somewhat underwhelming. It was barely promoted, feels thrown together and doesn’t really have the ambitious scale that’s worthy of the magnitude of the show’s half-century anniversary. 

The gimmick of the anniversary special, which runs just under 50 minutes, is that Gordon-Levitt, a longtime fan, is visiting Sesame Street, and really wants to get his picture taken with the characters, under the Sesame Street sign. The sign, however, has gone missing, and Elmo and friends must distract him to keep him from discovering that it’s gone. They all reach the honorable but not-so-earth-shattering conclusion that Sesame Street is less a physical place than a state of mind. 


Throughout, we get some surprise appearances by Sesame Street‘s human characters of old such as Luis (Emilio Delgado), Gordon (Roscoe Orman) and Maria (Sonia Manzano), and also long-absent muppets like Guy Smiley and even Kermit the Frog, who was a mainstay of Sesame Street‘s early days but has mostly been absent from the show since the 1980s. 

Kermit duets his signature Sesame Street tune “Bein’ Green'” with Elvis Costello, one of several musical numbers in the special. Norah Jones shows up to sing a song, and is visited by the talking letter “Y,” a callback to the time she remixed her song “Don’t Know Why” as “Don’t Know Y,” and there’s also a montage of famous Sesame Street songs. Patti LaBelle also shows up, as do Nile Rodgers and Meghan Trainor, and the show’s longtime mainstay Itzhak Perlman plays his violin on the show again as well. 

Non-musical cameos include Sterling K. Brown (from This is Us) eating cookies with Cookie Monster, as well as an appearance by Whoopi Goldberg. 

One of the more underwhelming aspects of the special is the relative lack of classic footage. The 50th anniversary could have occasioned an hour-long clip show, featuring some of the show’s most significant moments, celebrity cameos, and other Sesame Street touchstones, in a way that tells the story of the history of the show. 

Instead, we get Joseph Gordon-Levitt spliced into footage of classic Sesame Street moments, such as the Mr. Snuffleupagus reveal from 1985 and Grover’s “This is near/this is far” routine. 

The show chooses not to address the incongruity of young-seeming characters like Elmo and Big Bird not actually being 50 years old. And while it’s understood that the characters’ voices aren’t going to say consistent as different performers cycled through the roles, whoever is currently voicing Big Bird sounds nothing whatsoever like the recently retired Carroll Spinney. 


Those who are longtime Sesame Street devotees, whatever their age, will likely find some elements to enjoy in the new anniversary spell. But the special doesn’t feel anything close to definitive. 

The special will head to PBS on the 17th, the same day the show debuts its 50th season. 

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