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The Return of ''Scrubs''

By RD Heldenfels Published: January 2, 2006

I can't tell you if Tuesday's return of ''Scrubs'' is any good, because NBC didn't send out those episodes for review. It DID send out two episodes airing on Jan. 10, along with a selection of scenes from coming episodes.

The highlight reel is very funny,  and it gets around my problem with ''Scrubs.''

While the show is nominally a sitcom, structurally it's a sketch-comedy show, with bits of varying length. You could argue that the sketches are bound by a semblance of a plot, but to me that's not much different from Tracey Ullman tying together her ''Tracey Takes On ... '' sketches with an overall theme.

Trying to follow the ''Scrubs'' narrative through the goofy asides and rapid-fire scenes makes me feel like an old person trying to watch MTV in, oh, 1981, when that viewer's whole approach to TV was based on following a more extended narrative. Or having that same person watch ''Sesame Street'' after a childhood that consisted of ''Ding Dong School'' and ''Captain Kangaroo.''

So, as storytelling, ''Scrubs'' is too jumpy for me. And that's frustrating, since I have come to like the cast and characters. It takes talent to be funny while being pummeled by dozens of tennis balls, but Zach Braff carries it off.

So I have decided to treat ''Scrubs'' as the new century's ''Laugh-In,'' paying attention to some bits, shrugging off others -- and finding laughs long after I have stopped thinking about the plot.

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