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"Scrubs" The Complete Eighth Season DVD Review

Buy Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season from Amazon.com Scrubs: Season Eight (2009)
Show & DVD Details

Repeat Writers: Bill Lawrence, Kevin Biegel, Debra Fordham, Andy Schwartz, Bill Callahan, Angela Nissel / Repeat Directors: Bill Lawrence, Michael Spiller, John Putch

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

Recurring Characters: Sam Lloyd (Ted Buckland), Robert Maschio (Dr. Todd Quinlan), Christa Miller (Jordan Sullivan), Eliza Coupe (Dr. Denise "Jo" Mahoney), Betsy Beutler (Dr. Katie Collins), Sonal Shah (Dr. Sonja "Sunny" Day), Kit Pongetti (Ladinia "Lady" Williams), Todd Bosley (Dr. Howie Geller), Aziz Ansari (Dr. Ed "Big Ed" Dhandapani), Kate Micucci (Stephanie Gooch), Courteney Cox (Dr. Taylor Maddox), Taran Killam (Jimmy), Lee Thompson Young (Dr. Derek Hill), Elizabeth Banks (Dr. Kim Briggs), Andrew Miller (Baby Jack), Johnny Kastl (Dr. Doug Murphy), Manley Henry (Snoop Dogg Attending), Frank Cameron (Dr. Mickhead), Bob Bencomo (Colonel Doctor), Randall Winston (Leonard), Deontι Gordon (Orderly)

Notable Guest Stars: Travis Schuldt (Dr. Keith Dudemeister), Aseem Batra (Josephine), Glynn Turman (George), Kevin Clash (Elmo), Stephanie D'Abruzzo (A.M. Muppet Ex Ray), Eric Jacobson (Grover), Carroll Spinney (Oscar the Grouch), Anthony Russell (Mr. Lawton), Blair Williamson (Craig), Aloma Wright (Nurse Laverne Roberts), Geoff Stevenson (Dr. Seymour Beardfacι), Amanda Thorp (Brianna Tarasi), Robert Clendenin (Dr. Zeltzer), Tim De Kay (Rich Hill), Corena Chase (Robin), Mark Ankeny (Mr. Swick), Mike Schwartz (Lloyd), Barry Williams (Himself), Bill Lawrence (Van the Justice of the Peace, Janitor), Scott Foley (Sean Kelly), Josh Cooke (Dan Stonewater)

Running Time: 409 Minutes (19 episodes) / Rating: TV-PG
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Analog Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
DVD Release Date: August 25, 2009; Later released on Blu-ray Disc
Season 8 Airdates: January 6 - May 6, 2009
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Clear Keepcase with embossed cardboard slipcover and bonus cardboard envelope

Buy Scrubs: Season 8 from Amazon.com: DVD • Blu-ray


Page 1: Show and Season 8 Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Elliot's serious ex Sean (Scott Foley) and J.D.'s baby mama Kim (Elizabeth Banks) are now a couple, rendering wiener cousins and bajingo sisters. Dr. Cox reads an excerpt from a book of his painful past rants, J.D.'s farewell gift to his standoffish mentor. Dozens of characters from over the years return for uncredited one-line appearances in J.D.'s touching final walk out of Sacred Heart in "My Finale."

Disc 3

16. My Cuz (21:32) (Originally aired April 22, 2009)
J.D. and Elliot are surprised to learn that his ex (Elizabeth Banks) is dating her ex (Scott Foley). Turk pleads Dr. Cox to make him chief of surgery. Admitted with an intestinal bug, Dr. Kelso tries to treat himself.

17. My Chief Concern (21:32) (Originally aired May 5, 2009)
J.D. announces he'll be taking a job at a different hospital and moving closer to his son.
J.D. and Turk disagree on a patient. Against the Janitor's advice, Ted plans to move in with Gooch.

18. My Finale (Part 1) (21:32) (Originally aired May 6, 2009)
J.D. is disappointed that no one makes a big fuss out of his last day at the hospital.

19. My Finale (Part 2) (21:32) (Originally aired May 6, 2009)
Questions linger as J.D. wraps up his final shift at Sacred Heart. Will he get a big farewell? Will he make peace with the Janitor and learn his real name? Will Dr. Cox finally acknowledge him? It's hard to imagine another comedy series delivering this emotional and satisfying a finale (even if it's not the absolute end of "Scrubs"). J.D. exits with a send-off that looks both back and forward without sap or cheese. It stands as perhaps the show's greatest achievement and one which succeeds leaning on the 168 episodes that preceded it.

Turk shows Carla his surgical blood splatter resembling a tiger. (He used ketchup on the tail.) Lightly bearded J.D. gets a taste of the behavior that earned Jimmy the Overly Touchy Orderly (Taran Killam) his nickname.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The eighth season finally ushered "Scrubs" into the 21st century, as the show made an overdue leap to high-definition broadcasts. And yet, the DVD chooses to present the show in the 1.33:1 "fullscreen" aspect ratio of its analog transmissions.
The season's Blu-ray release, scheduled for November 24th, is sure to provide widescreen presentations (1.33:1 would require side bars on that format). So why not the DVD? Is it to maintain consistency or to indicate that the framing of standard broadcasts is preferred by the creators? The latter sounds unlikely and the former seems like such a non-issue. Was it maybe pure oversight or to make the pricey Blu-ray more appealing? Whatever the case, a 2008 article in High Def magazine revealed that, from the start, the show's Super 16 footage was protected for 16:9 (but composed for 4:3).

Naturally, there are no major framing concerns and the 1.33:1 presentation is valid, just not ideal. The lighting department must also feel the effects of budget cuts, as the picture is a bit darker than in recent seasons (another way in which Season 1 is recalled). Still, the visuals are perfectly clean and vibrant.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is crisp and vital, although as usual, surround channels supply only mild reinforcement, most notably on the short theme song mixed louder than the rest.

BONUS FEATURES

Every one of the previous two seasons' episodes was accompanied by an audio commentary. Season 8 comes close to turning that feat into a three-peat, but only 16 of the 19 episodes are given the treatment here. Shockingly, the thing most likely to be commented upon (the 2-part finale) is not, even though creator/producer and sometime writer/director Bill Lawrence repeatedly mentions recording a big group track for it.
There's not even a featurette to make up for it. Is something being saved for the Blu-ray or expectable complete series set? That's pretty lame if so.

But let's not dwell on the negative -- the vast majority of Season 8's shows are discussed by "host" Lawrence and 1-3 guests from the cast and crew. Here are the line-ups:
8.1 - Bill Lawrence and writer Kevin Biegel
8.2 - Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff
8.3 - Bill Lawrence and Kevin Biegel
8.4 - Bill Lawrence and Robert Maschio ("The Todd")
8.5 - Bill Lawrence, producer Randall Winston, Eliza Coupe, and Sonal Shah
8.6 - Bill Lawrence and John C. McGinley
8.7 - Bill Lawrence and Ken Jenkins
8.8 - Bill Lawrence and Neil Flynn
8.9 - Bill Lawrence, Sonal Shah, and Eliza Coupe
8.10 - Bill Lawrence Sonal Shah, and Eliza Coupe
8.11 - Bill Lawrence, Donald Faison, and (for the first half) Sarah Chalke
8.12 - Neil Flynn, Randall Winston, and (in the background) Bill Lawrence
8.13 - Bill Lawrence, Sarah Chalke, and Donald Faison
8.14 - Bill Lawrence and Christa Miller
8.15 - Bill Lawrence and Christa Miller
8.17 - Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff

The tracks vary in quality and style, but are generally engaging, entertaining, and informative. Lawrence questions his cast members (whose increased participation here is greatly appreciated) on the show's run and their career experiences. A number of topics arise in several commentaries, like Braff's "controversial" beard, but repetition is refreshingly minimal.

Some of the highlights... "My ABC's" exposes us to how Muppet appreciation divides into two generations ("The Muppet Show" vs. "Muppet Babies"). Out of nowhere, the same group minus Winston tackles musical theatre, vegetarianism and religion on "My Absence." McGinley shares John Malkovich's acting theories on "My Cookie Pants." Ken Jenkins' penchant for "drive-bys" is explained on "My New Role." "My Lawyer's in Love" (which you'd wrongly expect to feature Sam Lloyd) discusses fans' passionate speculation over the Janitor's real name. Zach Braff brings a director's perspective to "My Chief Concern."

Two you can skip are "Their Story II" (which only picks up when Lawrence begins asking questions in the background) and "My Soul on Fire (Part 2)", as husband Lawrence and wife Miller stop Part 1's humorous airing of their dirty laundry and discussion slows to simply point out tiny continuity errors.

Eight "Scrubs" cast members pose happily by a Hope Town welcome sign in "My Bahamas Vacation." Jordan (Christa Miller) shows Elliot another way her breast implants pay for themselves in this deleted scene. The Todd (Robert Maschio) gives us varied flexed poses in his "Alternate Lines" contribution.

Disc Three provides video bonus features. Unlike the show itself, all of these are presented in 16:9 widescreen.

First up is "My Bahamas Vacation" (20:12), a making-of on the season's most unique "Scrubs" episodes. It documents the working getaway that cast and crew clearly enjoyed shooting the "My Soul on Fire" two-parter in the tiny island of Hope Town, Bahamas. The featurette reveals the experience was even more fun than you'd expect and shows us how everything went down.

Next, we move to the show's standard extras. "Deleted Scenes" (10:38) give us 15 short excisions from 11 of the episodes. None of the cut bits exceeds a minute, but there are definitely some laughs amidst these lost moments, each of which is nicely identified by episode title and context.

"Alternate Lines" (13:21) shows off some of the amusing ad-libs that went unused. As usual, Zach Braff and Neil Flynn are the most prominent improvisers, but their castmates (and creator) also get into the act. Altogether, we get variations on 17 jokes from 12 episodes.

A callback to the knitwork of the Janitor's imaginary wife causes Judy Reyes to crack up in the Bloopers reel. Sunny Day (Sonal Shah), Katie (Betsy Beutler), Denise (Eliza Coupe), and Howie (Todd Bosley) pose in the title logo to the "Scrubs: Interns" web series preserved here. Exclusive to the DVD is the webisode that shows us how a short episode of the Janitor and Ted's sitcom "Legal Custodians" might play out with the Todd and a pillow playing their adopted kid.

A reel of Bloopers (3:12) amuses with footage of the cast just being goofy and occasionally screwing up.

Last and probably best comes the entire series of "Scrubs: Interns" (41:56) webisodes. Released online throughout the season, these 2½-5-minute in-character shorts bring us a fresh-faced newbie's perspective to life at Sacred Heart Hospital. Front and center are host Sunny Day (Sonal Shah) and her fellow interns, Denise, Howie, and Katie. They're almost always joined by at least one regular cast member. Sporting a rough YouTubey look, the series is the definition of a fun bonus feature and, despite the unfortunate lack of a "Play All" option, easier to consume and appreciate on DVD than on the Internet. Included among the twelve episodes are two never released to the web (thankfully, they weren't kept exclusive to Blu-ray as threatened).

Here's a short guide to a short series that starts promisingly, begins to slow, and recovers nicely:
1. Our Intern Class - Sunny introduces us to her video journal and gets Ted's band to compose a theme tune (which, unfortunately, is always played much louder than the rest of the content).
2. Our Meeting with J.D. - J.D. gives a candid lecture on hospital practices.
3. Our Meeting in the Broom Closet - The Janitor dispenses some rules,
but cuts things short.
4. Screw You with Ted and the Gooch - The couple simply performs a song they sang on the show.
5. The Late Night with Jimmy Show - In the series' best episode, the overly touchy orderly hosts a talk show whose "guests" are his great impressions of random celebrities (among them, Paul Giamatti and Topher Grace).
6. Our Meeting with the Brain Trust - Sunny sits in on the meeting that lays the groundwork for Season 7 joke "Legal Custodians" to become an actual sitcom.
7. Legal Custodians Outtakes - Ted's hot sweater hinders production of his and the Janitor's sitcom.
8. Our Bedside Manner - Elliot teaches Sonny and Denise how to interact with patients.
9. Our Meeting with Turk and the Todd - The surgeons try to explain differences between them and their medical brethren.
10. Our Final Advice - Dr. Kelso dispatches wisdom from his heart and we get some closing thoughts from the interns (including Ed).
11. Our Meeting with Carla (exclusive) - Carla explains how doctors should treat nurses.
12. Legal Custodians Episode (exclusive) - The Janitor shows off his and Ted's show to the interns and us.

Disc One loads with previews for "Greek": Chapter Three, "Samantha Who?": The Complete Second Season, The Proposal, Cheri, and Blu-ray. Disc Three supplies a Sneak Peeks menu which holds promos for Extract, "Grey's Anatomy": The Complete Fifth Season, "Life on Mars": The Complete Series, Adventureland, Surrogates, "Lost": The Complete Fifth Season, and "Ugly Betty."

Appropriately enough, the cursor of the ABC Starter Kit DVD's menu is the logo of the network whose shows are promoted. Those most excited to see how Kitty (Calista Flockhart) and Nora (Sally Field) deal with a pregnant woman in labor probably already have plans to own the Third Season of "Brothers & Sisters." He (Nathan Fillion) is a best-selling author of murder mysteries. She (Stana Katic) is a straight-laced NYPD detective. Together, they solve crimes, beginning with the "Castle" pilot episode.

Upon release at least, a fourth disc is included in a cardboard envelope. Titled ABC Starter Kit, this promotional DVD sampler contains short videos meant to catch you up on five of the network's dramas that return to DVD and primetime this fall: "Grey's Anatomy", "Private Practice", "Ugly Betty", "Desperate Housewives", and "Brothers & Sisters."
The 5-minute overviews describe the characters and arcs of the disc-bound latest season with clips and narration. Though essentially extended ads with spoilers, they do give a fuller taste of the series than shorter standard promos.

More substantially, the disc also includes "Troubled Waters" (1:25:37), a "2-hour movie event" of "Brothers and Sisters" from the middle of its third season (first aired March 1, 2009). True to the show, life and death drama abounds for the Walker family. As a mother prepares to give birth to Kitty (Calista Flockhart) and Robert's adopted baby, Robert (Rob Lowe) announces his candidacy for California's governorship, then passes out and is rushed to the same hospital. In addition, Nora (Sally Field) has reached out to "bastard son" Ryan and the wedge between Justin (Dave Annable) and Rebecca (Emily VanCamp) leads Holly (Patricia Wettig) to look into Tommy's (Balthazar Getty) business dealings.

Also here is "Flowers for Your Grave" (42:55), the full pilot episode of the non-recapped "Castle." In it, best-selling mystery novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is called in to aid in the New York City Police Department's investigation of a series of murders staged to resemble ones from Castle's books. He and all-business detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) work together to see if the clear suspect isn't the true one. This first tenth of the drama's introductory spring mini-season establishes a partnership for the personality-clashing duo destined for romance.

On a 4:3 TV, both episodes appear to be presented in fullscreen and plain stereo with no subtitles. In fact, the whole disc is encoded in 16:9 widescreen but with automatic center cropping. "Brothers" is bafflingly windowboxed, but the extra width of "Castle" is lost like the safe space of the menu.

Ted gets too comfortable in a main menu montage image that would surely turn off anyone truly browsing the cafeteria's salad bar line. For no apparent reason, Disc 3's Bonus Features menus are in an awfully morbid setting: the hospital morgue.

MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The main menus again take us around the hospital, playing montages in animated renderings of the coffee shop, the cafeteria line, a supplies closet, and a random hallway X-ray machine while Lazlo Bane's theme tune "Superman" is heard in full. Morbidly, Disc 3's bonus features menus take us to a morgue with toe tag listings accompanying a minimally-seen CGI corpse. Per tradition, submenus are static but scored.

The Eighth Season of "Scrubs" is packaged in a clear standard-sized keepcase with overlapping discs, reverse side imagery & contents listings, and a sparingly embossed cardboard slipcover. One booklet promotes adult Disney Blu-rays, the other advertises TV DVDs. A manufacturer's coupon gives you the chance to save $10 on the new season sets of "Samantha Who?", "Scrubs" (too late for that!), "Desperate Housewives", "Brothers and Sisters", "Grey's Anatomy", "Private Practice", "Ugly Betty", "Castle" and "Life on Mars." A very similar coupon is held in the promotional bonus disc, promising $10 in-stores off all of the aforementioned except "Life on Mars."

Ted (Sam Lloyd) notices the Bahama sun burning him while Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins) shaves and enjoys yet another Bahama Mama. J.D. (Zach Braff) and Elliot (Sarah Chalke) together stroll out of Sacred Heart Hospital's East Wing.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Eighth Season DVD of "Scrubs" should probably present it in widescreen, since that's how it aired for many viewers. Also, the two-part finale should have been among the majority of episodes given audio commentary. Other than those annoyances, it's just as satisfying a release as past ones. Although the show will go on, this definitely marks the end of an era, an era that wasn't as appreciated and followed as it should have been, but one which still gave us eight years of reliable laughs and some affecting drama too. I recommend this set to anyone who's liked "Scrubs" enough to buy a DVD of it. A truly complete series collection is at least a year away and the Season 1-8 bundle is more expensive than buying the eight sets individually. Your other option is to wait until November brings the Season 8 Blu-ray, which will set you back an additional $10 or so and bring inconsistency to your shelf, but also give you the episodes in 16:9.

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Page 1: Show and Season 8 Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

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Reviewed August 22, 2009.