Certainly one of the finest sitcoms since "Seinfeld" and one of the best ensemble casts in a good ten years, I've often said "Scrubs" is one of network televisions few bright spots since its debut in 2001. For those unfamiliar with the series, it focuses on a group of new medical interns at a local hospital, including John Dorian "J.D." (Zach Braff), Turk (Donald Faison) and the attractive, yet utterly neurotic Elliot (Sarah Chalke). They're looked over by the near-psychotic Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley in an utterly classic performance), cost-cutting head Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), nurse Carla (Judy Reyes) and others, including Janitor (the brilliant Neil Flynn).
During the first year, "Scrubs" launched with an unusually high degree of confidence. The show's mixture of the real and the surreal is often brilliant, as the random dream sequences are at their best during some of the first season episodes. The show's ability to mix comedy and drama is downright remarkable, such as the incredibly touching season 1 two-parter "My Occurence"/"My Hero", which stars Brendan Frasier as Cox's best friend and his ex-wive's brother, who finds himself admitted to the hospital for a serious issue. I won't give away any more than that, but while "Scrubs" had been terrific up until this point, it's this exceptional two-parter where the show really showed what it was capable of and it showed non-believers that it deserved to be around for a long, long time.
"Scrubs" is a delicate balance, and yet creator Bill Lawrence ("Spin City") manages to get it right nearly all of the time. The show's dream sequences are remarkably funny and add even more punctuation to nearly all of the show's bits. It helps that two of the show's writers, Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan, were picked up from the king of surreal dream sequences, the animated "Family Guy". The performances by the leads are also first-rate, as Braff makes for a likable "everyguy" and Faison somehow balances a frat-guy sense of humor with a lot of intelligence and heart. Sarah Chalke is also makes what could be an unlikable character charming. Finally, John C. McGinley rips into the role of Dr. Cox, who terrorizes everyone but occasionally lets a caring side show.
The show's supporting cast is simply priceless, lead by Robert Maschio as Todd (aka "The Todd") a "frat boy" surgeon who turns every sentence into something sexual, yet he also somehow is a good doctor. As we learn in the first commentary on the second season DVD, "The Todd"'s high-five "whoosh" is the only sound effect left in a show that used to have quite a few. There's also Ted, the hospital lawyer who is a reluctant servant of Kelso. Johnny Kastl plays a wonderful target for Kelso and Cox, as Dr. Doug Murphy, a resident Cox refers to as "nervous guy." Finally, there's Christa Miller ("Drew Carey Show" and creator Lawrence's wife), playing Cox's ex-wife, who's as much of a rage-a-holic as he is. The cast works together perfectly, especially Faison and Braff, who are completely believable as long-time friends. One of the best character elements of the series is that everyone's flawed and the mistakes that people make here aren't sitcom cliches, but feel real. It's one of the reasons why "Scrubs" can manage to be so touching at times, and why the characters are so engaging.
The second season started off after Jordan (Miller) dropped a bombshell in the last episode of the first season, revealing a secret each character had been sitting on. The second season surprised many by not only keeping up the remarkable level of quality that the first season had held up, but actually improving on it in some regards.
The third season of the series focuses on the relationship between Turk and Carla, as the two prepare for their wedding (the season finale.) Additionally, J.D. still has his sights set on Elliot, despite the fact that she's taken by Sea World employee Sean (guest star Scott Foley) and he finds himself attached to Danni (Tara Reid, decent in a supporting role), the sister of Jordan. When J.D. and Elliot finally come together again, one of the first things that comes to mind about their relationship is one of the last things he'd expected.
The fourth season of the series throws some changes into the mix, including a recurring guest star role for Heather Graham as Dr. Molly Clock, who befriends Elliott, but gets a more mixed reception from the other doctors. Graham is funny and rather charming in the role; while the character doesn't make a great deal of impact, she fits in nicely. The season also opens with J.D. and Elliott trying to work together - and compete for the Chief Resident position -sfter what happened at the end of the fourth season. Turk and Carla also come to the realization that their relationship has problems and eventually, J.D. decides that it's time to move out to leave the couple to themselves.
Season 5 continues the evolution of the relationship between Turk and Carla, who discuss her desire to have a child and his reluctance to become a parent. While Turk eventually warms up to the idea, there's more obstacles for two on the road to having a child. Meanwhile, J.D. continues on the search for the right one, screwing things up one more time with the girl all his friends like: the klutzy Julie (Mandy Moore, Braff's real-life ex.)
The series still has a flair for finding the surreal in real life after four seasons, such as a moment when J.D. buys his own little bit of land, adding only the deck, with a blank lawn remaining behind it. The bit is wonderfully framed and built upon, as Julie and J.D. greet their dismayed neighbors from the comfort of their isolated deck. The deck has some repeat appearances, and the gag doesn't grow old.
The all-out fantasy sequences (co-exec producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan come from the fantasy sequence-heavy "Family Guy") remain as funny as ever, such as a hilarious parody of old-fashioned kung fu in "My Day at the Races" that's actually also choreographed pretty well. The show's writing is terrific to begin with, but it's helped by the fact that the series doesn't underline or force gags, having enough confidence that the audience will get the joke on their own.
Highlights of this season include: "My Intern's Eyes" (an episode from the perspective of new intern Keith), "My Day at the Races" (JD finds a list of things he wanted to accomplish before turning 30 and decides to run a triathalon), "My Jiggly Ball" (JD has to introduce Kelso at an awards dinner), "My New God" (Cox's religious sister, Paige - played by guest star Cheryl Hines - comes to visit), "My Way Home" (a delightful nod to "Wizard of Oz", where Elliot searches for knowledge, Turk tries to get a heart, Carla worries and JD tries to find his way home), "My Half-Acre" (JD meets Julie and becomes a land owner, if not a home owner), "My Five Stages" (Ted finally gets the upper hand when Kelso hits him with a car) and "My Lunch" (John C. McGinley offers a powerful performance in an episode where three transplant patients suddenly take a turn for the worse. The episode is a prime example of how the series can do exceptionally well at turning from hysterical to absolutely heartbreaking in moments.)
There's a couple of minor things that don't work in this season, although they're over pretty quickly - the main issue being Elliot's departure to another hospital, which quickly goes wrong, leaving her trying to find her way back into Sacred Heart. Still, the performances and writing still are terrific during this fifth round of the series, which will hopefully return for another go after the current 6th season.
94. 5- 1 501 3 Jan 06 My Intern's Eyes
95. 5- 2 502 3 Jan 06 My Rite of Passage
96. 5- 3 503 10 Jan 06 My Day At The Races
97. 5- 4 504 10 Jan 06 My Jiggly Ball
98. 5- 5 506 17 Jan 06 My New God
99. 5- 6 507 17 Jan 06 My Missed Perception
100. 5- 7 505 24 Jan 06 My Way Home
101. 5- 8 508 24 Jan 06 My Big Bird
102. 5- 9 509 7 Feb 06 My Half-Acre
103. 5-10 510 7 Feb 06 Her Story II
104. 5-11 511 28 Feb 06 My Buddy's Booty
105. 5-12 512 28 Feb 06 My Cabbage (1)
106. 5-13 513 7 Mar 06 My Five Stages (2)
107. 5-14 514 14 Mar 06 My Own Personal Hell
108. 5-15 515 21 Mar 06 My Extra Mile
109. 5-16 517 28 Mar 06 My Bright Idea
110. 5-17 516 4 Apr 06 My Chopped Liver
111. 5-18 518 11 Apr 06 My New Suit
112. 5-19 519 18 Apr 06 His Story III
113. 5-20 520 25 Apr 06 My Lunch
114. 5-21 521 2 May 06 My Fallen Idol
115. 5-22 522 9 May 06 My Déjà Vu, My Déjà Vu
116. 5-23 523 16 May 06 My Urologist
117. 5-24 524 16 May 06 My Transition (1)
VIDEO: "Scrubs" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by Buena Vista. Presentation quality is generally very good, as the episodes as a whole look as good as they did when they were originally broadcast. Sharpness and detail are never really exceptional in any way, but the picture does at least maintain a consistent level of definition, and always appears at least crisp.
Some minor grain and edge enhancement appear at times during the proceedings, but mostly, the presentation appeared clear and free of flaws. No wear was present on the elements used. The show's color palette is mostly fairly low-key, although bright colors occasionally show through quite nicely. No smearing or other faults are spotted. Black level appeared solid, while flesh tones looked natural.
SOUND: "Scrubs" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 here. Despite the 5.1 presentation, the sound still remains fairly front-heavy, with dialogue and music remaining crisp and clear throughout.
EXTRAS: actor Neil Flynn and producer Randal Winston offer an audio commentary for "My Big Bird" and actor John C. McGinley and director John Michel offer a commentary for "My Lunch", where McGinley offers the season's most powerful performance. Actor Zach Braff offers a commentary for an extended version of "My Way Home". This is not included on the same disc as the episode - it's included on the final disc. There's some great little moments that didn't make the final cut - it's definitely worth a view.
We also get "My 117 Episodes", a documentary providing an overview of the show's 5 seasons, where creator Bill Lawrence reveals that "Scrubs" has been embraced by the medical community as the "most accurate" of the medical shows on TV. We also get a series of deleted scenes and alternate lines, both available in the bonus section on the last DVD.
Final Thoughts: "Scrubs" continues to entertain in its fifth season, with performances that continue to get better and writing that can be hilarious at times and quite moving at others. The DVD set provides fine audio/video quality and an enjoyable set of supplements. Still one of the funniest shows on TV, the fifth season of "Scrubs" is highly recommended.