When we left J.D., Turk, and the rest of the staff of Sacred Heart Hospital at the end of their seventh season, there were good reasons to believe we had seen the last of Scrubs:
1) The show had suffered the lowest ratings in its history.
2) It was widely considered to be the show’s least funny season, at times treading perilously close to levels of cloying sentimentality not seen since the last few seasons of M*A*S*H*.
3) NBC had announced that they would not be renewing the show.
Well, luckily for everyone ABC picked up the rights to the show and the producers managed to churn out a season that’s on par with some of their best work.
The season begins strong, introducing the new Chief of Medicine, Dr. Taylor Maddox (Courtney Cox-Arquette). She has been hired to replace Dr. Kelso, who still manages to be around, hanging out in the hospital cafeteria every day. She quickly becomes the new ogre for the staff to vanquish. As the season progresses, J.D. and Elliot finally settle things and reveal their true feelings for each other, Turk campaigns for the position of Chief of Surgery, Dr. Cox gets a big promotion, and the Janitor gets married. Everyone’s story progresses and all the characters get their moments in the sun (figuratively and literally – episode 14 takes the cast to the Bahamas).
Scrubs has always been one of those shows that, despite wit, originality, and wonderful comic performances, has never quite clicked with a mass audience. This is not surprising. The show has always featured quirky, absurdist comedy blended with genuinely moving moments. It is shot with a single camera, does not have a laugh-track, and constantly flashes to outlandish and elaborate fantasy sequences imagined by the show’s main character, J.D. However, like the best shows do, it continually rewards long-term viewers, as much of the comedy is character-driven and is so much funnier when you know the characters well.
Season Eight ends up being one of the show’s funniest and most consistent collections. The cast and crew were working under the impression that this was to be the show’s swan song and as a result, many of the show’s loose ends are tied up by its conclusion, and several characters receive ‘endings’ to their stories (though none are set in stone). Season nine has been announced and will apparently transition the show to a new group of characters so, to many fans, the eighth season finale was the series’ finale.
Despite the show being shot in HD for the first time ever, the Season Eight set is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The colors are bright and accurate with pretty good clarity throughout. The transfer is clean and the images look good, though it’s a shame that they didn’t go with a widescreen format.
The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital, and the track is well-recorded and clear, particularly where dialogue is concerned. There are no big aural flourishes to push your system, but why would there be on a small, character-driven sitcom? What there is sounds good though, with some subtle environmental effects and good music choices for several episodes.
There are audio commentaries for almost every episode, featuring various selections of production people, writers, and actors. The disc also features subtitles in Spanish and French.
My Bahamas Vacation (20:12): A short feature that chronicles the making of a two-parter from this season that took the cast and crew to the Bahamas. It’s full of behind the scenes footage and a lot of goofing off.
Deleted Scenes: Selections from twelve episodes. These are nice because they show an ‘as aired’ version first, then show the ‘deleted’ version.
Alternate Lines: One of the great things about Scrubs is that the actors have always been encouraged to improvise. This feature lets us see some of the improvised moments that didn’t make it to air.
Bloopers (3:11): Typical blooper reel.
Scrubs Interns: In conjunction with season eight, a series of twelve webisodes were produced, following the adventures of several of the shows intern characters. They’re pretty funny and run an average of 3-4 minutes each.
Scrubs has been a consistently funny and original show since its debut and, whether season eight is the end or not, it is a more than worthy addition to any fan’s collection. For those new to it, give it a rent and see what you think, though you’d be better served going back to season one and working your way from the start.