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Standout Songs: "Overkill" on Scrubs

In Episode 1 of the second season of Scrubs, JD tries to deal with the consequences of the night before, following confessions of feelings and admissions of guilt between his friends and co-workers. It's a tricky web of people sleeping with each other and/or secretly having feelings for each other. Basically, it's JD who has to bear the brunt of the fall out. (In particular, JD is gutted that his mentor [and reluctant "quasi-father figure" *insert signature growl*) Dr. Cox found out about him sleeping with Cox's ex-wife, Jordan. On top of that, he feels burdened by the knowledge that Elliot still has unresolved feelings for him. His personal drama gets in the way of his work, and leads him to "forget" about checking on Mr. Zerbo, one of the patients assigned to him.)

At this point in the series, the audience has gotten to know the characters well enough to become invested in their relationships with each other. But it is actually the first time that we see our Sacred Heart gang actually get hurt as a consequence of all their actions - and omissions. This is a comedy, first and foremost, but very early on in its run, Scrubs has realized that it does itself great favors when it takes giant strides at allowing their characters to not just be funny, but be real and emotional. When there is an acknowledgment of real hurt, even at the expense of a few seconds of comedy, consequent jokes land better as a result, because the audience understands that humor is actually used in context to heal, not some cheap device to earn some laughs.

Scrubs embraces its introspective narrative. For instance, take a look at its typical episode format: JD has voiceovers in the beginning and end to share his thoughts or wrap up a good lesson about life (and the medical practice). But it also acknowledges the importance of music to further emphasize these moments of rumination. Throughout its run, Scrubs gets better at selecting songs to imprint specific sentiments into the mind of the audience. The show is a definite favorite of mine because of its writing (great pacing, fully realized characters, brilliant sense of humor), but a good portion of my affection for it is also brought about by its soundtrack. From this show, I picked up some truly memorable tracks which, though not always within the genre I lean towards (i.e. not a lot of rock here), I have grown to truly appreciate.

Enter "Overkill" by Colin Hay. This is probably the most illustrative of Scrubs' ability to weave comedy and emotion into one quirky but still meaningful script. Here, we see JD and Turk walking on their way to work. The opening lyrics come in, and almost immediately we see singer Colin Hay by a bench, actually singing the song. It gets quirkier: JD sees him. In the beginning, it elicits from the audience a "WTF" reaction almost similar to JD when he thinks he's possibly imagining the guy. And then throughout the day, as the consequences of the fallout with his friends make themselves more apparent, Colin Hay (and the song) pops up in random places throughout the hospital, singing random verses on random occasions. As if on cue, the song will jump into the scene and mirror the confusion, despair, and anxiousness of JD. It starts off as funny and ends up being completely substantial to the episode to drive a point home, which is: it all gets better. "Ghosts appear and fade away." It will all be okay... eventually.

The clip I'm attaching here is actually one that already stitched together Colin Hay's scenes through out the episode, thereby completing the song. As posted, it encapsulates the essence of a typical Scrubs episode: starting out with JD concerned about the decisions he's made, personally or professionally, and ending with him realizing something valuable. Life is often difficult, funny, or both. But sometimes, all it takes is a little introspection, an acknowledgment of the struggle - and a really good song in the background - for things to fall back into place.


"My Overkill"
From Scrubs
Episode: 2 x 01
Writer: Bill Lawrence
Director: Adam Bernstein
Air date: September 26, 2002


(Just randomly had the idea of writing about my favorite music moments in TV and movies. Yeah, apparently, driving through rush hour traffic does that to you. You suddenly have so much time to think about your old to-write lists! I have a few more written down, so let's see if I can keep this one up. For TV, I have a couple of favorites from sitcoms [because comedies are the smartest thing on television, #fightme], and a few more from movies that are slightly more varied in genre.)