Right off the top, I have to admit I’m a big Scrubs fan. Obviously, this portion of the review will be influenced by that bias, but at least I’m up front about it. Now, this DVD set brings us the ingenious sitcom’s fifth season, which aired in 2006. I didn’t catch any of these 24 episodes on TV, so this release was my first time.
Season five, like all of the previous seasons, picks up at the start of a new year at Sacred Heart. This time around, J.D. (Zach Braff, The Last Kiss) and Elliot (Sar…h Chalke, Roseanne) are full-fledged, attending physicians, while Turk (Donald Faison, Uptown Girls) is vying for one of the hospital’s few surgeon positions. As viewers would expect, the usual gang is still doing its thing, with Dr. Cox ranting, Carla bossing people around, the mysterious Janitor hassling J.D. and Dr. Kelso ruling the place with a nasty fist.
I don’t like giving away any plots, so instead I’ll discuss the general quality of season five, relative to the previous four. Prior to starting this season, I watched the last handful of episodes of Scrubs’ fourth season, which had become my favourite of the series. As such, I was disappointed with the opening episodes of this season. Everything felt off, from the superficial facial hair changes of certain characters to the comic timing, and the most egregious issue, the fantasy sequences. These have been a comedic highlight throughout the series, but in season five they fell flat way more often than in previous outings. After the first six episodes, I began to long for the good old times the series once enjoyed.
That is, until I saw episode seven, My Way Home. In this, the series’ landmark 100th episode, the Scrubs I knew and loved was back. I’m still not giving anything away, but suffice to say that this episode – directed by Zach Braff – is one of the most creative in the show’s history, and it offers an incredible combination of zany humour and heartfelt character development that ranks it as one of the top five Scrubs episodes of all time.
From that point on, season five took off with fresh momentum, and the qualities that make this hit sitcom unique were firing on all cylinders. The actors, with so many episodes under their belts, displayed such mastery of their characters that no opportunities offered by the show’s excellent writing were missed. As the Sacred Heart gang grew as individuals and in their relationships, episode-by-episode, the fifth season secured its place as one of the best yet.
So Scrubs was still alive and kicking in 2006. How’s the DVD set?
Scrubs – The Complete Fifth Season is presented on the usual three discs, with each episode in 1.33:1 full-screen, preserving the aspect ratio of their original broadcast. Video quality is very good for TV-on-DVD. Colours are handled well, even when cranked up during the fantasy 100th episode, the picture is consistently sharp, with finer details – like J.D.’s ridiculously coiffed hair – clean and clear.
As is usual for the Scrubs sets, menus are animated and scored. Careful, though, this time around there are more spoilers in the main menu montage.
English audio is Dolby Digital 5.1. For a sitcom, it sounds great. Scrubs tends to have a more complex mix than most sitcoms, with lots of zany sounds, especially in the many fantasy sequences, plenty of music from both the soundtrack and the score, and a variety of effects – not the kind that go boom, mind you, but effects nonetheless. Anyway, all that’s here is good and clear, so fans will be happy on the aural front.
Audio is also available in French in Dolby Digital 2.0, while subtitles are offered in English, French and Spanish.
Scrubs – The Complete Fifth Season does better than a lot of TV-on-DVD sets in this department. The main highlight here is an extended cut of the 100th episode, but there are other items of interest as well. Here’s the rundown:
- Commentary for Episode 8, My Big Bird: by producer Randall Winston and Neil Flynn (The Janitor). The only bonus feature found on disc one – the others are on disc three.
- 100th Episode, My Way Home – Extended Cut: watch one of the series’ finest episodes with an extra seven minutes of extra footage that either extends existing scenes or incorporates ones deleted from the final cut. Also, it’s a racier version, with lots of alternate lines not shown in the broadcast cut. It includes optional commentary by episode director Zach Braff, who quietly talks his way through his directing choices and praise of his fellow actors.
- My 117 Episodes: Five Seasons of Scrubs: this featurette kicks off with footage from the 100th episode party, and features clips and interviews by cast and crew, waxing poetic about the show’s great run.
- Deleted Scenes: seven in all, these are a mix of extended and deleted scenes, each presented in context from their respective episodes. They’re not bad at all, so these were obviously cuts made for time.
- Alternate Lines: a tradition on Scrubs DVD sets, here we see what characters might have said in place of some of the funnier lines. There are 19 in all, and surprisingly I found none of them funnier than the ones chosen for broadcast. Still, they’re worth a look.
- Commentary for Episode 20, My Lunch: by John C. McGinley (Dr. Cox) and director John Michel. It’s a great episode, and I’m happy to hear more from McGinley about his character.
Despite a weak start, Scrubs season five is one of the best of the series thus far. If you’re a fan, don’t hesitate to pick this one up, especially since the set’s quality is top-notch.
Special Features List
- Audio commentary for three episodes
- 100th episode extended cut
- Deleted scenes
- Alternate lines
- My 117 Episodes: Five Seasons of Scrubs