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"Scrubs" The Complete Third Season DVD Review

Buy Scrubs: The Complete Third Season from Amazon.com Scrubs: Season Three (2003-04)
Show & DVD Details

Regular Writers: Tim Hobert, Eric Weinberg, Bill Lawrence, Neil Goldman, Garrett Donovan, Mike Schwartz, Debra Fordham, Mark Stegemann, Gabrielle Allan, Janae Bakken

Regular Directors: Chris Koch, Bill Lawrence, Gail Mancuso, Ken Whittingham, others

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: Tara Reid (Danni Sullivan), Scott Foley (Sean Kelly), Aloma Wright (Nurse Laverne Roberts), Christa Miller (Jordan Sullivan), Sam Lloyd (Ted Buckland), Robert Maschio (Todd), Bellamy Young (Dr. Miller), Michael J. Fox (Dr. Kevin Casey), Freddy Rodriguez (Mark), Johnny Kastl (Dr. Doug Murphy), Martin Klebba (Randall), Charles Chun (Dr. Wen), Frank Encarnacao (Dr. Mickhead), Jason Baumgard (Chet)

Notable Guest Stars: Sean Whalen (Laddy), Maureen McCormick (Herself), Christopher Meloni (Dr. Norris), Matt Winston (Dr. Steadman), Tom Cavanagh (Dan Dorian), Erik Estrada (Himself), Nicole Sullivan (Jill), Bernie Kopell (Mr. Moran), Barry Bostwick (Mr. Randolph), Mike Starr (Mr. Iverson), Brendan Fraser (Ben Sullivan), Embeth Davidtz (Maddie), Julie Warner (Allison), Nestor Carbonell (Dr. Ramirez), Alexander Chaplin (Mr. Thompson), Richard Kind (Harvey Corman), Larry Thomas (Himself), George Takei (Priest)

Running Time: 477 Minutes (22 episodes) / Rating: TV-14
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: May 9, 2006 / Season 3 Airdates: October 2, 2003 - May 3, 2004
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Six-sided Digipak with semi-transparent plastic slipcover and lithograph inside

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

After two seasons on NBC, "Scrubs", the half-hour comedy series about doctors, returned in the fall of 2003 as the fifteenth-highest rated show on television and retained its cushy 8:30 PM (Eastern) Thursday night timeslot in between ratings forces "Friends" (in its much-discussed final season) and "Will & Grace." Things were going well for show creator/producer Bill Lawrence, who had gracefully moved from one hit ("Spin City") to another with one overlapping year. The same could be said for the talented ensemble cast and the clever troop of writers, both of which were succeeding while departing from long-accepted conventions.

"Scrubs" may not have been breaking Nielsen records, but it had a considerable audience which strongly approved of its unprecedented but highly appealing style. So, as was the case with the show's second season, there was little need for implementing
change in Season Three. That is not to say that the medium's eternally-feared stagnancy set in. Nor is it to say that things remained completely the same.

As a whole, "Scrubs" was not switching gears. It still focused on three resident doctors (now, like the show, in their third year) -- protagonist and regular narrator J.D. (Zach Braff), his cocky best friend Turk (Donald Faison), and the traditionally unassertive Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke) -- who were gradually becoming surer of their career calling while dealing with ups and downs of twentysomething life on the side. Two veteran doctors -- the speechifier Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) and the cantankerous chief of medicine Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins) -- remained present as tough-to-please, largely unsympathetic authority figures. There was also a romantically involved nurse (Judy Reyes), a tormenting unnamed janitor (the hilarious Neil Flynn), an amusing collection of recurring characters (ranging from the innuendo-obsessed surgeon to the sorely underappreciated hospital lawyer) and a steady supply of impressive guest stars. It is this last element which introduced variety and shaped overarching storylines of Season Three.

J.D. (Zach Braff) and Danni (Tara Reid), his girlfriend for much of Season 3, hold differing opinions on their art class date. Scott Foley returns as Sean and spends most of his nine appearances in a serious relationship with Elliot (Sarah Chalke).

Outside of the seven central cast members (who have all stayed with the show from day one), the guest and supporting cast of "Scrubs" can be divided into a number of classes, which one of the Season Two DVD's bonus features mostly did. For the purposes of this review, I'll call that number "four." There are the pop culture icons who show up as themselves, appear in a single scene, and provide a quick, hearty, and enduring laugh. Season Three serves this purpose with Maureen "Marcia Brady" McCormick, Erik "Ponch" Estrada, Larry Thomas (the "Seinfeld" Soup Nazi), and George "Mr. Sulu" Takei. Then, there are the single-episode guests who figure largely but are mostly forgotten afterwards. Often filling this opening are actors called back from "Spin City"; Barry Bostwick, Alexander Chaplin, and a returning Richard Kind all show up this year, as do film/TV veterans Brendan Fraser, Tom Cavanagh, Nicole Sullivan, Embeth Davidtz, and Julie Warner.

There are also the ever-present secondary characters who are rarely asked to do anything substantial but do contribute big laughs. This group loosely includes hospital board member/Dr. Cox's ex-wife Jordan (Christa Miller, seemingly decreased here, but still most significant of the lot) plus the afore-alluded to high-fiver Todd (Robert Maschio) and sweaty attorney Ted (Sam Lloyd). It more accurately defines caricatures like sassy nurse Laverne (Aloma Wright), "Nervous Guy" Doug (Johnny Kastl), Turk's soft-spoken superior Dr. Wen (Charles Chun), and other background figures like Chet (a doctor so tall we never see beyond his neck) and "Colonel Doctor" (a man with a white beard like KFC's Colonel Sanders). Season Three clearly inducts at least two new members into this class, with the arrival of Randall (Martin Klebba), a bald midget who keeps showing up and eventually becomes head of the janitors' union, and Dr. Mickhead (Frank Encarnacao), little more than a punch line name kept alive as verbal humor.

Finally, there are the guest stars who show up for an extended stay, figuring largely in their episodes' scripts though not destined to become a full-fledged cast member. Actors falling into this class definitely shape the third season more than any other group and either previous season. In this, the "junior" year of sorts, there are precisely five personas who fit into this group. Most significant are Scott Foley as Sean Kelly, a full-lipped SeaWorld dolphin guru who rekindles a relationship with Elliot, and Tara Reid as Danni Sullivan, Jordan's sister (i.e. Dr. Cox's sister-in-law) who is J.D.'s girlfriend for much of the season. Appearing in 9 and 10 episodes, respectively, these two become quasi-regulars in an extended cast, as "Scrubs" persistently explores the dating habits of its two single doctors. The other three guests commanding a decent amount of screentime are: film/television legend Michael J. Fox ("legend" feels right and checks out: though he was playing a teenager last decade, the man is almost 45) as a highly skilled, but obsessive-compulsive doctor in a pair of supersized shows; "Six Feet Under" star Freddy Rodriguez as Carla's Spanish-speaking brother who disapproves of her fiancι in three separate episodes; and Bellamy Young as an attractive new attending surgeon who is sort of a younger, female version of Dr. Cox but never fully fits in, though appearing in six episodes.

Engaged couple Turk and Carla offer the show's most stable relationship. Sacred Heart's roof becomes an increasingly-seen location in Season 3. Here, Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins) shows little regard for the hospital's thankless lawyer Ted (Sam Lloyd).

Now that the players of Season Three have been thoroughly classified and explained (or reviewed for those who have already caught these episodes), it's time to address two major questions: "What happens?" and "Is it any good?"

The third season focuses heavily on two central relationships: one that is in place (wedding-bound couple Carla and Turk) and one that might be (the close friends and maybe more J.D./Elliot duo). The latter is detoured by two relationships that seem less promising (i.e. they involved non-regular cast members of stature): J.D.'s increasingly unhappy fling with Danni and Elliot's imperfect but worthwhile reunion with the similarly neurotic Sean. The J.D./Elliot relationship is central and compelling, with Sean being the seemingly flawless foil to our sympathetic narrator who wants what he can't have. Though, as always, there are multiple storylines being bounced around at all times and this potential
coupling never dominates all, the show wavers into romantic comedy territory in the later episodes of this lot. While this track becomes disappointingly dismissed in the season's penultimate installment, the journey there is an interesting, twisted one which taps into the complex nature of two of the show's most likable characters. At the same time, the relatively minor (and commonplace) skirmishes and arguments found among the engaged Turk and Carla also hold our attention and prove amusingly relatable.

As for the question of quality, the answer is a resounding "yes." Season Three is the show's best yet, as it ups the ante on all the characters, humor, and guest stars. By now, both the show's writers and audience seem fully adapted and warmed to the characters; most kinks seem to have been worked out or are easier to overlook. Individuals who seem excessively unsympathetic (like Dr. Kelso), caustic (Jordan), or aloof (J.D.'s brother Dan) are shown to be more complex in subtle yet palpable ways that neither the show nor the viewer are apt to forget. The series begins paying more attention to Elliot, who feels like a second lead for much of the season and works well with the increased emphasis.

The Janitor and his lunchroom worker friend Troy have a riddle of their own in one of the season's funniest storylines. Elliot enjoys a new look and a growing amount of important screentime in Season 3.

The pacing feels better; with all that is packed into 20-21 minute episodes, satisfaction isn't denied the way it somewhat was in the rushed-feeling storylines of Season 2. Each installment finds just the right amount of story and laughs in the time period that commercial television necessitates. Allowed an extra six minutes in three "super-sized episodes", the show excels even more, delivering a trio of highlights.

Finally, as is important of any comedy series, the show is very funny. There are lots of laughs, running the gamut from well-realized physical gags to the trademark visual asides of flashbacks and fantasies, with gentle ribbing of human behavior providing more subtle and clever humor as well. Even seemingly throwaway moments are given payoff in these tight episodes, ensuring maximum comedy per episode. Amidst the sharp, quick-witted writing and perfectly-timed deliveries, there is still room for intelligent drama, which the show gets away with far better than most things that can be considered a "situational comedy."

Oddly, though the show was as good as it had ever been, "Scrubs" ended the season with a significant decline in viewership from the year before. Thanks to this and the unexpected popularity of "The Apprentice", "Scrubs" was bumped back to Tuesday nights beginning in February 2004, where it has remained in the seasons since.

Arriving six months after Season 2 and a year after Season 1, The Complete Third Season comes to DVD in a fashion similar to its predecessors, meaning that all 22 episodes are found on a relatively loaded 3-disc set.

Elliot boasts a new look and newfound courage to stand up for herself in season premiere "My Own American Girl." Elliot's intern isn't the most confident, but his beatbox skills are pretty dope. (He's got fluid!) With flowers in his hand and an early dismissal, J.D. won't let anything stand in his path to Elliot in "My Lucky Night."

Disc 1

1. My Own American Girl (21:05) (Originally aired October 2, 2003)
Things haven't changed much at Sacred Heart Hospital, but Dr. Kelso's squeaky nose alerts staff members to his whereabouts and leads to slacking. J.D. is stumped by a patient. Dr. Cox has to perform check-ups on prisoners instead of spending time with his son. Finally, when bad luck seems to have left Elliot helpless and low, she decides to do something about it, beginning with a choppy new haircut.

2. My Journey (21:03) (Originally aired October 9, 2003)
The setting of a wedding date for Turk and Carla leads J.D. to pursue a "man-date" with Turk, which Turk reluctantly agrees to while pondering his homophobic nature. Elliot dates former ex Sean, who she re-encountered last episode,
and though they appear to be clicking, the hospital still demands her time. Meanwhile, Carla goes to great lengths to identify an unlabeled urine sample.

3. My White Whale (21:01) (Originally aired October 23, 2003)
J.D., Elliot, and Turk grapple with intern problems, and Sean steps in to guide J.D., in spite of the uneasy feelings between them. The Janitor tries to eradicate a resilient marker wipe on a wall. Dr. Cox and Jordan must deal with a highly recommended but difficult pediatrician who has a puppet fetish. Elliot and her nervous intern try to stand up against Dr. Cox's tough tongue.

4. My Lucky Night (26:48) (Originally aired October 30, 2003)
Sean is about to leave for six months and is unwilling to carry on a long-distance relationship with Elliot, leaving J.D. to wonder if he should pursue her. Meanwhile, Turk and Carla find some kinks in working together in the operating room, while Dr. Cox is reluctant to receive help from Jordan in his quest for the position of residency director. In an amusing subplot, J.D.'s 30-cent riddle plagues the Janitor and his lunchroom friend Troy. Running nearly six minutes longer than the rest, this "Supersized" episode is actually billed as such on the set, in contrast to lengthier shows on the past two seasons' DVDs.

J.D.'s brother Dan (Tom Cavanagh) is back in town in "My Brother, Where Art Thou?" Carla's brother Marco requires subtitles, but Turk isn't buying the innocent foreign guy act. Stuck atop a ferris wheel, Dr. Cox, J.D., Danni, and Jordan are in for an awkward hour.

5. My Brother, Where Art Thou? (20:21) (Originally aired November 6, 2003)
J.D.'s lovelorn feelings over Elliot's long distance relationship prompts him to consult his older brother Dan (Tom Cavanagh, forever NBC's "Ed"), who quickly shows up but offers little help. To help raise money for a trip to New Zealand, Elliot goes moonlighting with Carla at an animal clinic, which gets them both a suspension from Sacred Heart. The opening sequence is reduced to merely a title in this shorter-than-usual episode.

6. My Advice To You (20:09) (Originally aired November 13, 2003)
Carla's Spanish-speaking brother arrives, holding dislike for Turk and a secret. J.D. tries to get over his feelings for Elliot and meets Danni (guest Tara Reid, in the first of several appearances), a young woman who is also trying to move on. Dr. Cox settles into his role as residency director, but has trouble retaining the support of J.D. and other advisees.

7. My Fifteen Seconds (20:56) (Originally aired November 20, 2003)
J.D.'s relationship with Danni grows more serious through several double dates with her sister Jordan and Dr. Cox, including a night at the carnival. A shoddy stethoscope impairs Dr. Kelso's hearing, opening him up to smile-wrapped insults. A bad recommendation puts a tiny hitch in the otherwise strong friendship of Carla and Elliot. The Janitor takes charge of hospital announcements. And finally, a returning patient tests the doctors' accepted 15-seconds-of-listening limit.

8. My Friend the Doctor (20:52) (Originally aired December 4, 2003)
Elliot vies to shine under pressure without help the way that Turk and J.D. recently have. A show-off slam dunk gives Dr. Cox an injured back, but he remains in denial while Carla helps him. Meanwhile, J.D. tries to figure out the real Janitor from the various international personas he puts on for other hospital workers and a possible appearance spotted in The Fugitive.

Carla and Elliot are surprised by what they see in "My Rule of Thumb." The students of Dr. Cox's residency class does not take their sessions very seriously. As obsessive-compulsive doc Kevin Casey, Michael J. Fox may just be the mentor J.D. has always wanted.

Disc 2

9. My Dirty Secret (21:15) (Originally aired December 11, 2003)
J.D.'s advice for Dr. Cox's marital problems leads to Dr. Cox moving becoming his roommate for the time being. Turk, troubled by Carla's decision to abstain from sex until their forthcoming wedding day, also happens to become the Janitor's new annoyance target. Sex is something of a theme here, as a reticent middle aged couple has fears about a prostate operation and Elliot tries to overcome her reliance on substitute terms for private parts.

10. My Rule of Thumb (20:47) (Originally aired January 22, 2004)
Concerned by how Dr. Cox will honestly assess him to Carla, Turk stumbles into a complicated relationship with Cox, which gets even more difficult when Cox's good friend and long-waiting patient might have disqualified himself for a liver transplant. Elliot and Carla aim to fulfill a dying 38-year-old patient's wish by seeking out a male prostitute. Meanwhile, J.D. has second thoughts about inviting Danni to "crash" at his place.

11. My Clean Break (21:41) (Originally aired February 3, 2004)
When Danni expresses interest in buying a place with J.D., he carefully plans to dump her in a sensitive fashion, but she beats him to the punch. Dr. Cox is concerned by his newfound uncharacteristically pleasant disposition, which gets tested by his slacking residency class. Elliot is offended by Dr. Kelso's objections to her new look.

12. My Catalyst (26:18) (Originally aired February 10, 2004)
Dr. Cox's old obsessive-compulsive friend Kevin Casey (guest star Michael J. Fox) shows up and wows everyone with his seemingly unrivaled surgical skills and medical know-how. J.D. considers Casey the mentor he has always wanted, while Turk and Cox feel threatened by his prowess. Meanwhile, Dr. Kelso pays the Janitor (and his new midget friend) to dispose of the trash and Ted contemplates suicide.

Brave enough to finally try out the "epiphany toilet" on the roof, Elliot gets a surprise in "My Porcelain God." Brendan Fraser returns as Dr. Cox's quirky brother-in-law Ben in "My Screw Up", easily one of the season's most memorable episodes. Which chest the airborne insect decides to land on has great consequences in "My Butterfly."

13. My Porcelain God (26:18)
(Originally aired February 17, 2004)
The Janitor installs an "epiphany toilet" on the hospital's roof and though it's supposed to be a secret, word soon leaks out to all of Sacred Heart's staff who find its powers compelling. Elliot has trouble incubating patients and turns to the helpful Kevin Casey for help, Turk asks J.D. to be his best man, and because he has closed a wing to keep costs down, Dr. Kelso must endure having his office be the site of his bed-ridden gardener.

14. My Screw Up (21:30) (Originally aired February 24, 2004)
Carla encourages Turk to have the mole above his lip removed, but begins to feel guilty soon after. Jordan's sister Danni and brother Ben (Brendan Frasier, returning from Season 1) are in town for her son's first birthday. Dr. Cox blames J.D. for the death of a patient, and takes on all his others.

15. My Tormented Mentor (20:16) (Originally aired March 2, 2004)
Dr. Cox remains in a bout of depression over Ben's death and having two of Jordan's friends around the house doesn't help, nor does having J.D. ask them to leave. Dr. Kelso agrees to set up a box for sexual harassment complaints, and he, Todd, and Cox soon find themselves in a seminar run by Carla. A sassy new female surgeon questions the intentions of Turk and Elliot.

16. My Butterfly (20:47) (Originally aired March 16, 2004)
Turk is in need of his lucky Tabasco doo rag, Elliot is trying to find a stuffed dog toy she promised a young girl, and J.D., who has been put in charge of Dr. Cox for the day, is struggling to spot help a patient whose ailment is tough to spot. This episode relies on a gimmick, in which it proceeds through the same series of events twice, with things amusingly changing in ways big and small the second time around.

17. My Moment of Un-Truth (20:48) (Originally aired March 30, 2004)
Carla catches up with an old doctor friend and when she accepts his dinner offer after a streak of nagging Turk, J.D. is conflicted by his alliances. Elliot deals with a pained patient (Alexander Chaplin, the 100th guest from "Spin City") who Dr. Cox thinks is merely seeking a drug prescription. In the episode's funniest storyline, the Janitor's identical twin hangs around the hospital, or is it merely a transparent scheme?

It's the Janitor's identical twin brother Roscoe! Or is it? It wouldn't be a UD "Scrubs" review without a pic of The Todd.

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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

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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 11, 2006.