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Scrubs on DVD: Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5 Season 6 Season 7 Season 8 Season 9

"Scrubs" The Complete First Season DVD Review

Buy Scrubs: The Complete First Season from Amazon.com Scrubs: Season One (2001-02)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Directors: Adam Bernstein, Marc Buckland, Lawrence Trilling, Michael Spiller

Regular Cast: Zach Braff (Dr. John "J.D." Dorian), Sarah Chalke (Dr. Elliot Reid), Donald Faison (Dr. Chris Turk), Ken Jenkins (Dr. Bob Kelso), John C. McGinley (Dr. Perry Cox), Judy Reyes (Nurse Carla Espinosa)

Recurring Characters: Neil Flynn (Janitor), Christa Miller (Jordan Sullivan), Robert Maschio (Dr. Todd), Sam Lloyd (Ted the Lawyer), Aloma Wright (Nurse Laverne Roberts), Charles Chun (Dr. Wen), Brendan Fraser (Ben Sullivan), Elizabeth Bogush (Alex), Nicole Sullivan (Jill Tracy), Scott Foley (Sean), Kelli Williams (Kristen Murphy), Matt Winston (Dr. Jeffrey Steadman), Michael McDonald (Mike)

Notable Guest Stars: John Ducey (Will Forte), Kathryn Joosten (Mrs. Tanner), Travis Wester (David Morrison), Liliana Mumy (Samantha Tanner), Louie Anderson (Himself), Jimmie Walker (Himself), Sean Hayes (Nick Murdoch), Paul Collins (Dr. Benson), Carrot Top (Himself), DJ Qualls (Josh), Adrian Wenner (Philip Chambers), Eric Saiet (J.D. #1), John Ritter (Mr. Dorian), Hattie Winston (Margaret Turk), Markie Post (Mrs. Reid), Lane Davies (Dr. Reid), R. Lee Ermey (Janitor's Dad), William Daniels (Dr. Douglas), Ed Begley Jr. (Dr. Bailey), Stephen Furst (Dr. Franklyn), Eric Laneuville (Dr. Lamar)

Running Time: 540 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: TV-14
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital Stereo Sound (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: May 17, 2005
Season 1 Airdates: October 2, 2001 - May 21, 2002
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Six-sided fold-out Digipak with semi-transparent plastic slipcover

Buy Scrubs: Season 1 from Amazon.com


Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Amidst the current television climate of hourlong crime dramas and reality programming, "Scrubs" is a breath of fresh air. The series could be called a "sitcom", but while half hour in length and marked by both situations and comedies, that's not an entirely accurate label. Still, when it's the rare sitcom that makes a splash near the top of the weekly Nielsen ratings, "Scrubs" may be the closest thing to a beacon of hope for a format many consider stale. At the same time, the show proves adept at innovation, whether it is its ability to seamlessly integrate drama and overarching storylines or its willingness to sprinkle bizarre little visual metaphors throughout for the sake of creating fresh humor.

"Scrubs" is set at Sacred Heart Hospital in an unnamed (and rarely seen) city. In filmed entertainment, hospitals are generally the exclusive domain of medical dramas or the tearjerker scene, but "Scrubs" is a far cry from either of those. The series is centered on John Dorian (Zach Braff), a first year medical intern at the hospital.
He's referred to as "Newbie", "Bambi", and a variety of women's names depending on who's talking to him, but most frequently and most favorably to him, he's known as J.D. He arrives at Sacred Heart alongside surgical intern Chris Turk (Donald Faison, Remember the Titans), who has been his best friend and roommate for a long time, through college and med school. Also among the interns is the fast-talking, neurotic Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke), whose foot is usually deserving a place in her mouth.

To inform, challenge and deride the new kids on the block are the more experienced nurses and doctors of Sacred Heart. Nurse Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes) has a sassy side and always stands up for herself, but she's good-natured at heart and embraces J.D. (whom she dubs "Bambi" from day one) and Elliot (eventually) as friends, while soon becoming Turk's serious girlfriend. Rounding out the regular cast are two often opposing figures of authority who are equally tough to read. Dr. Perry Cox (film veteran John C. McGinley) is a gruff superior who often barks orders with irregular pauses and heavy doses of sarcasm. J.D. soon looks to Dr. Cox as a mentor despite his rough exterior and penchants for treating interns like children or dogs. Dr. Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins) is the hospital's chief of medicine, who wavers between grandfatherly and spiteful, often landing on the latter due to his keeping an eye out for the bottom line.

The "Scrubs" title logo seen at the brief start of each show. Zach Braff plays J.D., a young medical intern trying his best to do right.

Despite a setting that literally springs life and death on a daily basis, "Scrubs" offers more comedy than drama, though it very skillfully blends both. A rarity for the half-hour format, the series is shot on film with a single camera and no laugh track. This gives the show the visual appearance of a drama while also the benefit of being free from formula, enabling laughs to flow without aural cues like "The Simpsons" or "The Wonder Years." Like "Wonder Years", "Scrubs" employs a voiceover track, by J.D., though this is naturally done sans nostalgia since both the show and narration are set in the present. Having a voiceover allows the show to get dramatic without being sappy; the moment you accept this device, you're willing to listen to the protagonist's inner thoughts. Sincere moments can sometimes be better conveyed in comedy without unnatural exchanges of dialogue and that is often the case here.

Of course, not all of J.D.'s narration is straight-faced. The young intern has a nice sense of humor, and his thoughts often setup another trademark of the series: its visual asides. These moments come out of the blue, usually sparked by J.D.'s imagination or fears, and never last particularly long. Nonetheless, they generate some of the show's biggest laughs, and usually work quite well, whether it's J.D. playing Connect Four with Death, a deliveryman bringing a ton of bricks after a shocking revelation, or Dr. Kelso actually duking it out with a threatening fellow doctor.

Humor also flows from supporting characters. Most notable is Neil Flynn, who plays "The Janitor." For an individual whose name is never revealed, Flynn turns up with surprising regularity and always provides a welcome diversion. The running joke is that The Janitor has it out for J.D. from their fateful first meeting when a sarcastic comment is taken the wrong way. As such, the janitor is frequently showing up to put down J.D. or when he's not, J.D.'s well-intentioned remarks to him always come across as hostile. Their rivalry is an inspired one and works well as an ever-running backdrop, never approaching the foreground, but supporting the first season theme of the hospital as a challenging workplace for fresh-faced interns. Another amusing recurring character is Turk's fellow surgeon Todd (Robert Maschio), or as he likes to refer to himself, "The Todd." This thick-headed doctor remains stuck in fratboy mode, a fact which he would wear on his sleeve if he hadn't cut them off. His most common contributions to conversations are sophomoric sexual innuendos and powerful high-fives that leave many a hand red and in pain.

Film veteran John C. McGinley ("Platoon", "Office Space") plays J.D.'s tough-to-please and reluctant mentor Dr. Cox. From day one, J.D. has a rocky relationship with the Janitor (played by Neil Flynn).

Unlike "E.R.", the patient and medical drama is usually not the focus of the show. Still, the setting naturally plays an important role. It is not a show "about doctors" and not a show "about people who happen to be doctors", but somewhere in between. Though each episode stands on its own, the characters are given room to develop throughout the season. There are a few clear arcs in episodes, but more importantly, changes are permanent. What happened in the last show is not forgotten just a few weeks later the way they might be in sitcoms of the past.

"Scrubs" launched on NBC on the first Tuesday in October of 2001, about the time that most Americans were agreeing it was okay to laugh again. The show finished 34th in ratings for its debut season, which was well below other NBC sitcoms like "Friends" and "Will & Grace" but strong enough to land it a second year. In the seasons since, "Scrubs" has remained similarly a modest fan favorite, rising its sophomore year on the network's popular Thursday night lineup and falling a bit in Season 3 when it was ushered back to Tuesday nights.
As a Disney-owned property (distributed through the studio's Touchstone Television branch), NBC owns no stake in the series and so has less reason to promote and serve it the way they do other shows. Nonetheless, an ardent fanbase has kept the show going. Last week marked the season four finale and a fifth season will begin in the fall.

The first season of "Scrubs" explores J.D.'s growth as a doctor and person. It covers: his quest for acceptance by Dr. Kelso, Dr. Cox, and himself; his relationships with friends Turk, Elliot, and Carla; his romantic relationships (including a couple of attempts with Elliot); and his understanding of hospital politics and realities, from patients who won't listen to those he can't help. In spite of such weighty content, "Scrubs" is never tough to swallow. Its lighthearted, good-humored nature enables you to revel in the show's goofy appeal while taking something else from the often subtle and mostly on-the-mark human drama that weaves in and out.

Chief of medicine Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins) catches Elliot (Sarah Chalke) acquiring new scrubs. Turk (Donald Faison) and his fellow surgeon, high-fiver "The Todd" (Robert Maschio).

"Scrubs" is fast-paced and quick-witted. In addition to the imaginative fantasy sequences (which impressively entail so much time and effort for so brief a joke), the exchange of dialogue often moves at a rapid clip and the show is slickly-edited with a mix of long takes on a moving camera and quick cuts. Each episode balances multiple storylines, often with overlap among characters and never in an overly formulaic or inhibiting fashion. The fast pace and numerous storylines make it a bit difficult to distinguish between episodes when reflecting on the show (at least watching an entire season in the span of a week, as I did), but are also responsible for each episode being wholly immersive and involving, with so much going on that there's always something to care about.

There's a greater-than-average number of guest stars on "Scrubs." Fortunately, these rarely dominate a whole episode, so development of the regular characters is not arrested at the cost of a big name guest to boost ratings. Most notable in Season One are Brendan Fraser in a two-episode arc as Dr. Cox's brother-in-law Ben, John Ritter as J.D.'s father, and Sean Hayes ("Will & Grace") as a hotshot intern. Another trait of the show is the use of prerecorded music. One might classify the soundtrack as employing "pop", but it's more often niche songs which fit the specific montage appropriately. Anytime you are dealing with music not created for a series, there comes the task of clearing it financially for use on a digital home video medium. That has mostly been done here, save for a couple, which are discussed on Disc 2's audio commentary.

Overall, "Scrubs" is a sharp, winning series. It's not something that I can see everyone liking since it's not the most accessible program. In fact, I wouldn't rank the show among my favorite sitcoms if only because the characters and pacing can be a bit too much to closely identify with. Also, unlike most of what is reviewed at this site, "Scrubs" is not the most family-friendly series. It's given a TV-14 rating, which seems fair. It's still safe for primetime and its oft-expanding standards, but some of the content isn't appropriate for pre-teens or those younger.

Nonetheless, for the right age group, mindset, and sense of humor, "Scrubs" is definitely one of television's best offerings on the air today. It does not always produce giant laughs, but its clever comedy and compelling characters ultimately provide an entertaining and rewarding experience. When a series is this likable and different from others, it's easy to allow it a few missteps, and so while "Scrubs" isn't perfect, it's very appealing and a show I recommend checking out.

A star () denotes my ten favorite episodes from the season.

J.D. and Turk get a lesson in reality from the hospital in "My First Day." The three interns at the center of "Scrubs." Dr. Cox likes to go off on tirades. Here, he's apparently consulting a hospital manual.

Disc 1

1. My First Day (23:20) (Originally aired October 2, 2001)
J.D. gets a rude awakening on his first day at the hospital. He quickly takes interest in fellow intern Elliot, but he struggles to find his footing amidst challenging procedures and unpleasant superiors.

2. My Mentor (22:09) (22:09) (Originally aired October 4, 2001)
J.D. reaches out to Dr. Cox by thinking he's lonely and in need of a friend, but as usual, he just reads his mentor the wrong way.
Elliot raises the ire of the nursing staff by her inability to shut up. Turk struggles to ask Carla out.

3. My Best Friend's Mistake (22:08) (Originally aired October 9, 2001)
J.D. worries that Turk and him are drifting apart and that time is running out for him to kiss Elliot. Elliot overanalyzes that Dr. Kelso calls her "sweetheart."

4. My Old Lady (22:10) (Originally aired October 16, 2001)
Each of the three lead characters must cope with troubling cases in this touching episode. J.D. befriends a "neat" old woman who doesn't want to be treated. Elliot is inspired to learn a new language to communicate with a patient, but she struggles with her indecisiveness. Turk gets close to one of his surgery patients and finds it difficult.

Jordan Sullivan is on the hospital's board and happens to be Dr. Cox's ex-wife. She is played by Christa Miller (the real life wife of "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence). Sean Hayes guest stars as a hotshot intern in "My Super Ego." Signs like this turn up around the hospital after Turk and J.D. prove heroic in "My Fifteen Minutes."

5. My Two Dads (22:08) (originally aired October 23, 2001)
J.D. struggles to please both Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso with their differing priorities and winds up golfing with both. Elliot experiments with a new way to improve the status of her patients: showing some skin. Turk tries to make things right with Carla by getting her a present.

6. My Bad (22:09) (Originally aired October 30, 2001)
Dr. Cox battles with suspension and J.D. tries to help out and gets mixed up with Cox's ex-wife. Carla's mother gets in between Carla and Turk. Elliot considers therapy when her jaw-sealed shrink patient involuntary listens to her problems.

7. My Super Ego (21:39) (Originally aired November 6, 2001)
J.D. has been riding high with his performance around the hospital, but the arrival of Nick (guest star Sean Hayes of "Will & Grace"), another intern who seems to do no wrong, threatens his standing. After a surgical procedure almost goes terribly wrong, Turk realizes the gravity of his work and begins freezing up in the OR. When he doesn't talk to Carla about it, she turns to Dr. Cox.

8. My Fifteen Minutes (21:50) (Originally aired November 15, 2001)
When J.D. and Turk rescue a cameraman on their lunch break, the hospital tries to capitalize on the two interns' heroics with an ad campaign around the community. J.D.'s excited about the attention, but Turk isn't thrilled by the fact his image is being used to promote diversity and emphasize that he's black. J.D.'s more worried by his intern evaluation that Dr. Cox wants him to fill out himself. Meanwhile, Elliot feels left out when she gets stood up by Carla and her friend.

J.D. spends Thanksgiving in the hospital in "My Day Off." Turk secures his favorite lunchtime spot in "My Nickname." Turk is the only one who can find the Christmas spirit in "My Own Personal Jesus."

Disc 2

9. My Day Off (22:09) (Originally aired November 20, 2001)
J.D. comes down with a case of appendicitis and has to stay at the hospital for Thanksgiving week. When he won't let Turk operate on him, it throws a hitch in their friendship. Dr. Cox takes care of the former head of medicine. Elliot is surprised to learn that patients think she is rough with them.

10. My Nickname (22:29) (Originally aired November 27, 2001)
J.D. and Carla re-evaluate their friendship after Carla stands up to Dr. Cox for J.D. Cox meanwhile is on the warpath due to an annoying patient, who gets along well with Elliot. Turk and Kelso battle over the ideal lunchtime bench.

11. My Own Personal Jesus (22:08) (Originally aired December 11, 2001)
It's Christmastime, but J.D. and others are having trouble getting into the spirit. But Turk is, until he spends a rough Christmas Eve on call. Elliot works with a young pregnant girl who goes missing, while Dr. Cox bonds with his ex-wife over their mutual friends' new baby. It's surprisingly religious and surprisingly poignant holiday episode.

12. My Blind Date (22:08) (Originally aired January 8, 2002)
Dr. Cox is going for a "perfect game", meaning that all 27 of the ER patients stay alive during his 24-hour stretch. Elliot wants to help out, but Cox is more comfortable calling upon J.D. Meanwhile, Kelso advises J.D. to stay with a hospital worker who has fallen on its wet floors and gets stuck in the M.R.I. There's an attraction, but is it a problem that J.D. doesn't know what she looks like? After getting mad over some little things, Turk surprises Carla.

Elliot yearns for the type of respect that J.D. gets from Dr. Cox. Elliot and J.D. can't understand how a serious relationship seems to be so easy for their friends Turk and Carla. Like the rest of the staff, Turk opens up his past for a psychologist's research project in the supersized episode "My Bed Banter & Beyond."

13. My Balancing Act (22:08) (Originally aired January 15, 2002)
J.D. finally gets to see the M.R.I. girl he asked out and things are going well, but he has trouble pulling himself away from the hospital to spend time with her. Dr. Cox stands in for Dr. Kelso during rounds and suddenly no one fears Kelso anymore. Turk and Carla have some sexual problems.

14. My Drug Buddy (22:19) (Originally aired January 22, 2002)
J.D. has an extra bounce in his step thanks to his thoroughly progressing relationship with Alex. But that hits a snag when she disagrees with Elliot over a recovering addict patient, and J.D. has to take a side.
Meanwhile, Turk and Dr. Cox not only happen to be on the same bathroom schedule but they share an interest - Carla. Carla gets to know Dr. Kelso better when he starts driving her to the hospital, but their friendship turns the nurses against her.

15. My Bed Banter & Beyond (28:16) (Originally aired February 5, 2002)
Through a lot of sex, J.D. and Elliot find themselves in a serious relationship, one they try to keep secret among the hospital. Kelso requires the entire staff contribute to a psychologist's research project, which leads to first-person confessions and reflections from all the regulars. In addition to this unusual device, there are some jumps in the chronology which takes you back and forth between J.D. and Elliot's pizza-fueled lovemaking and the problems they face soon after. All of this leads to an atypical episode, with less comedy than usual despite the extended running time.

16. My Heavy Meddle (22:10) (Originally aired February 26, 2002)
Turk and Elliot collaborate on a study, forcing her to deal with her newly ex-boyfriend: J.D. J.D. is upset to hear about the death of one of high school teacher. Dr. Cox's rage leads to him demolishing a lab room, but also a late night bar visit with J.D. Carla sees to it that a comatose patient's unusual request about a Poison song is honored.

Sam Lloyd plays Ted, the hospital's eternally sweaty and stressed out lawyer. Judy Reyes plays Nurse Carla Espinosa. Here, they collaborate to sing some Poison for a comatose patient in "My Heavy Meddle." "How low is my self-esteem that I'm the sidekick in my own fantasy?!"

Buy Scrubs: Season One DVD from Amazon.com

Continue to Page 2 >>

Page 1: Show Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed May 15, 2005.