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"Scrubs" The Complete Fifth Season DVD Review

Buy Scrubs: The Complete Fifth Season from Amazon.com Scrubs: Season Five (2006)
Show & DVD Details

Repeat Writers: Janae Bakken, Tim Hobert, Aseem Batra, Kevin Biegel, Garrett Donovan, Neil Goldman, Debra Fordham, Bill Callahan, Mark Stegemann, Tad Quill

Repeat Directors: Bill Lawrence, Michael Spiller, Victor Nelli Jr., John Inwood

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: Christa Miller (Jordan Sullivan), Robert Maschio (Dr. Todd Quinlan), Travis Schuldt (Keith Dudemeister), Sam Lloyd (Ted Buckland), Aloma Wright (Nurse Laverne Roberts), Johnny Kastl (Dr. Doug Murphy), Michael Learned (Mrs. Wilk), Mandy Moore (Julie Quinn), Elizabeth Banks (Dr. Kim Briggs), Christina Miles (Gloria), Jordan Zucker (Lisa), Shaughn Buccholz (Jason "Cabbage" Cabbaggio), Michael Hobert (Lonnie), Aaron Ikeda (Rex), Charles Chun (Dr. Wen), Frank Encarnacao (Dr. Mickhead), Philip McNiven (Roy), George Miserlis (Crispin), Paul F. Perry (Randy), Andrew Miller (Baby Jack), Jay Kenneth Johnson (Dr. Matthews), Yvonne Arias (Nurse Martinez), Randall Winston (Leonard), Bob Bencomo (Colonel Doctor)

Notable Guest Stars: Alexander Chaplin (Sam Thompson), JP Manoux (Charlie), Josh Randall (Jake), Cheryl Hines (Paige), Gary Busey (Himself), David Downs (Mr. Bolger), Jason Bateman (Mr. Sutton), Peter Jacobson (Mr. Foster), Allison Smith (Millie), Billy Dee Williams (Himself), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Himself), Nathan Lee Graham (Eric, Devin), Dave Foley (Dr. Lester Hedrick), Janet Carroll (Mrs. Cooke), Maria Menounos (Tamara), Robert Clendenin (Dr. Zeltzer), Paul Hipp (Marc), Jeffrey Stubblefield (Frank), Tom Cavanagh (Dan Dorian), Jerod Mixon (Herbert), Markie Post (Lily Reid), Nicole Sullivan (Jill Tracy), David Warshofsky (Dave Bradford), Paul Adelstein (Dr. Stone), Sarah Lancaster (Gift Shop Lisa)

Running Time: 524 Minutes (24 episodes) / Rating: TV-14
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Broadcast Ratio) / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Surround (French) / Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007 / Season 5 Airdates: January 3 - May 16, 2006
Three single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9); Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Six-sided Digipak with cardboard slipcover

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Page 1: Show and Season 5 Discussion, Disc 1, and Disc 2
Page 2: Disc 3, Video/Audio, Bonus Features, Menus & Packaging, and Closing Thoughts

Of the thirty-four primetime network television shows that debuted in the fall of 2001, "Scrubs" was one of just ten programs (a mere four of them comedies) to remain in production in the 2005-06 season. Clearly, the medical comedy was doing something right, a claim that was supported by the record four Emmy nominations the series received in 2005.
At the same time, it appeared to be doing something not right, as evidenced by the fact that NBC indefinitely sidelined the series the same year, excluding it from the network's fall schedule.

As with most TV industry decisions, the unusual fate of "Scrubs" was determined, at least largely, by viewership ratings. Though widely praised as a unique take on comedy, many argued that NBC's treatment of "Scrubs" was uniquely unflattering. Some people -- including cast/crew members and series creator Bill Lawrence -- have reasonably contended that the opposite forces behind the show (Disney's Touchstone Television produces, while NBC Universal airs) account for the limited promotion and occasional schedule change. Common sense supports that NBC would see greater value in marketing its in-house productions like "The Apprentice", "Fear Factor", and the various "Law & Order" series than shows which will only yield short-term profit for NBC as a distributor. Still, this argument ignores the fact that, even in the recent years that enforced studio/network alliances, some of NBC's biggest and most supported hits ("Friends", "ER") have been shows produced by other parties.

In truth, "Scrubs" had not been among the most-watched primetime series for a few years. At the same time, while modest in size, "Scrubs"' audience was large in its dedication. Viewers stuck with the show they considered television's best secret through night changes and time changes. They helped make the May 2005 DVD release of "Scrubs"' Complete First Season an enduring strong seller. And they, especially those in the all-important 18-49-year-old demographic, justified the show being renewed once again.

J.D. (Zach Braff) pulls roommate/pal Elliot (Sarah Chalke) while driving his scooter Sasha. Carla (Judy Reyes) and Turk (Donald Faison) are once again "Scrubs"' most featured couple. In Season 5, they try to have a baby.

The faithful "Scrubs" following was rewarded when NBC began airing the show's fifth season halfway into the '05-'06 season. Beginning with the season premiere, on 2006's first Tuesday, viewers were treated to a full hour of "Scrubs" via back-to-back new episodes. Just five weeks in, when the 2006 Winter Olympics took over NBC's airwaves, nearly half the season had aired. When normal programming resumed, "Scrubs" had one more all-new full hour in it. After that, it dedicated half of its retained hour of airtime to a rerun of an episode not yet on DVD and not yet in syndication. To make it even sweeter, each rerun offered a downloadable audio commentary on NBC's website from a cast member who considered the rebroadcasted episode a favorite. Aired as essentially a dream for "Scrubs" fans, among them those who had devoured the show's first two seasons on DVD in the months since Season 4's finale, Season 5 was a compact, but not abbreviated season.

Perhaps because they felt "very dissed" (as Zach Braff put it) and perhaps because no one was seeing the episodes still being churned out on a regular schedule, those behind "Scrubs" seemed to shift in Season 5 from pleasing viewers to merely pleasing themselves. While that sounds like a recipe for disaster, it wasn't. Critics stayed behind the show, and viewership levels remained steadfast even in the face of tough competition. In Season 5, "Scrubs" definitely ups the ante for wackiness, but it does so while remaining faithful to its central cast of characters and while still managing to squeeze some heart and drama into the proceedings.

The three fresh-faced interns of Sacred Heart Hospital who were the focus of the show upon launch have long since matured but still face plenty of life obstacles on- and off-duty. J.D. (Zach Braff) remains a goofy narrator and lead who cares for his patients but rarely lets them hinder his penchant for fun. This season gives him a pair of new love interests (Mandy Moore appearing in two episodes that perhaps reflect her concurrent real-life relationship with Braff and Elizabeth Banks as an end-of-the-season cliffhanger-supplier), a new mode of transportation (a blue scooter named Sasha), and two new homes (initially rooming with repeat ex Elliot, then buying a half-acre of land upon which merely an elderly gay-attracting deck is built). J.D.'s extremely close best friend Turk (Donald Faison) competes to advance his career as a surgeon, though his young marriage with sassy nurse Carla (Judy Reyes) stays in the foreground, as they try to have a baby. Elliot (Sarah Chalke) begins the season as part of a fellowship outside of home base, but the show gets her back to Sacred Heart hospital as quickly as possible. There, as her neuroses provide a steady stream of laughter, she gets another new love interest in barely-defined intern Keith (Travis Schuldt). Though the relationship begins most casually, it develops into something more and contributes to J.D.'s dislike of Keith.

J.D. and Turk's extra close friendship remains an amusing staple of "Scrubs." Here, the buddies try to avoid some imposing ostriches in "My Big Bird." The hospital's chief of medicine Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins) is able to put on a happy face the moment he steps off the premises.

While the show intends otherwise and many will disagree, the two constant figures of authority -- narcissistic-yet-self-loathing attending Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) and detached chief of medicine Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins) -- move further into territories of unsympathetic and sympathetic, respectively. Cox's hard-edged speechifying shtick feels old hat and snatches time away from more interesting elements, without quite qualifying as a detriment. On the other hand, the grouchy Kelso is quite the hoot, his old-fashioned ways, prejudices, and intermittent air of befuddlement making him a regular source of hilarity. Though he's often supposed to be the "bad guy", you can't help but like Kelso and appreciate how removed he is from his doctors.
Of the two, however, Cox features far more prominently, and he is given a dramatic arc this season after an ill-fated judgment call throws him for a loop. Kelso's wacky extra-hospital life is repeatedly referenced (his family supposedly includes an obese, paralyzed wife and a play-writing gay son) but never seen, while Cox's unmarried arrangement with the usually-caustic Jordan (Christa Miller) and young son Jack (Andrew Miller) stays on the radar.

Many of "Scrubs"' most hilarious moments feature supporting characters, a group which only grows this season. Though figuring in every episode and even narrating one, the unnamed Janitor (Neil Flynn) somewhat still feels like the president of this class. His days of making trouble for J.D. are far from over, but he has expanded his repertoire to also torment Kelso, Cox, and Carla as well. From time to time, the Janitor's antics occasionally step over a line of good taste, as "Scrubs" has occasionally done from its launch.

Like never before, Season 5 dabbles in the bizarre, as things that might make sense in one of the show's many fantasy/dream asides appear to actually be happening. It's easy to take this in stride as the various shenanigans keep us laughing as intended. But scenes and storylines involving J.D. contorted into a backpack, a beach on the hospital's roof, and the Janitor inexplicably robbing an Asian couple are bound to leave thoughtful viewers scratching their heads. Surely, such random hilarity would never have been genuinely incorporated into the show in its early, more sincere Season 1 episodes. The better off-the-wall moments of Season 5 are framed as unreal fantasies; some of the most memorable images of this type pertain to J.D.'s dream of Floating Head Doctor and his vampire screenplay/movie Dr. Acula. Other highlights include Turk going on an Indiana Jones-type exploratory surgery, PSA-type gags about child-smothering and coffee addiction, Carla's glass-shattering response to a Janitor comment, and J.D. considering his adoption options at a grandfather kennel.

Supporting characters of "Scrubs", unite! Laverne (Aloma Wright), Ted (Sam Lloyd), The Todd (Robert Maschio) and Janitor (Neil Flynn) stand together in protest of Carla's rejections. J.D.'s interns feature repeatedly throughout Season 5. They include the elderly Gloria (Christina Miles), the inept Cabbage (Shaughn Buccholz, center) and Elliot's booty call Keith (Travis Schuldt, second from left in back row).

Getting back to those supporting characters, they once again include such likable misfits as "The Todd" (Robert Maschio), the fratboyish surgeon to whom sexual innuendos never get old; Ted (Sam Lloyd), the hospital's pitiful, put-upon lawyer (whose a capella band, The Worthless Peons, again harmonizes to nice effect); Laverne (Aloma Wright) the gossipy veteran nurse; and Doug (Johnny Kastl), a hapless morgue doctor. Joining them are J.D.'s quirky interns, who range from the old to the hairy and generate laughs by their presence, ineptitude, and willingness to appease their superior.

Though silliness is rampant throughout the season to the point where new viewers may be stumped at trying to figure out what's real and what isn't, "Scrubs" still attempts, and usually succeeds at, injecting some poignancy into the proceedings. One recurring element of Season 5 involves Mrs. Wilk (Michael Learned of "The Waltons"), a kindly old woman who bonds with a number of doctors, especially Dr. Cox and J.D., while battling illness over the course of seven episodes. It's a daring show which can maneuver from outlandish humor to affecting pathos, but "Scrubs" continues to get it right most of the time.

The Complete Fifth Season of "Scrubs" serves up the 2006 season's 24 episodes on three discs. It is timed to arrive right after the sixth season finale, which airs this Thursday on NBC. Earlier this week, it was announced that "Scrubs" would return to NBC this fall for a seventh and final season. Assuming Buena Vista keeps the show on the same schedule it has for the past two years, one can expect the Sixth Season DVD to arrive in the fall and the Seventh Season to complete the series' run shortly after the series finale airs next spring.

Episode synopses follow, with a star () indicating the season's ten best episodes.

Dr. Cox takes us play-by-play as his ex-wife Jordan falls for a con man's (Alexander Chaplin) scam in "My Rite of Passage." Elliot chats up J.D. as he competes in his first triathlon. Guest Cheryl Hines ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") is Dr. Cox's sister and his son's godmother in "My New God."

Disc 1

1. My Intern's Eyes (21:41) (Originally aired January 3, 2006)
J.D. secretly moves back in with Turk, who is hesitant to get Carla pregnant. Elliot struggles at her new hospital while pretending she still works at Sacred Heart. Some of the episode is seen through the eyes of one of J.D.'s new interns.

2. My Rite of Passage (21:40) (Originally aired January 3, 2006)
J.D. is upset to find his interns pretend-laughing at his jokes. Dr. Cox lets Jordan get fooled by a con man drug addict (Alexander Chaplin, returning from Season 3). Carla sees Elliot at her new hospital, to Elliot's dismay.

3. My Day at the Races (21:41) (Originally aired January 10, 2006)
With his 30th birthday approaching, J.D. competes in a triathlon
to check off one of his life dreams. At Carla's encouragement, Turk attempts to remove a patient's appendix with hypnosis instead of anesthesia. Elliot re-evaluates her relationship with Jake (Josh Randall).

4. My Jiggly Ball (21:41) (Originally aired January 10, 2006)
JD finds it hard to come up with nice words about Dr. Kelso for an awards dinner introduction. Elliot won't let her friends help her return to Sacred Heart. J.D. wonders (and learns) what "jiggly ball" is.

5. My New God (21:42) (Originally aired January 17, 2006)
To his annoyance, Dr. Cox's born again Christian sister Paige (Cheryl Hines) is in town for his son's baptism. Meanwhile, J.D. helps the Janitor "move" and Turk gets hooked on "angry sex."

This is perhaps the most blatant visual nod to "The Wizard of Oz", but "My Way Home" is one big homage to the classic 1939 musical. Zach Braff and Jason Bateman use "Scrubs" to develop chemistry for their poorly-promoted big screen comedy "The Ex." Art imitates life as J.D. dates Julie (Zach Braff's then-girlfriend Mandy Moore) in back-to-back Season 5 episodes.

6. My Missed Perception (21:43) (Originally aired January 17, 2006)
J.D. misinterprets a patient's (Michael Learned) request for a treatment. Elliot and Turk are stumped by a patient's inexplicable pain. Carla tries to rally support for this year's hospital staff photo.

7. My Way Home (22:45) (Originally aired January 24, 2006)
Elliot hides textbook pages to help maintain her reputation as an endocrinology expert. Turk tries to get the parent of a brain-dead patient to approve a heart transplant. After watching Cox's son, Carla starts to reconsider her quest for kids. The three of them fill in for the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion in an episode that pays tribute to The Wizard of Oz with countless references to the classic musical. This, the series' 100th episode, also appears on Disc 3 in a longer cut.

8. My Big Bird (21:11) (Originally aired January 24, 2006)
After their patient curiously dies, J.D., Turk, Elliot and Carla have to account for themselves at a morbidity and mortality conference. Between a thankless garbage man (Jason Bateman), an irate wife (Allison Smith), and a $100 million lottery jackpot, all four may be to blame in this non-linear episode.

9. My Half-Acre (21:41) (Originally aired February 7, 2006)
Against Elliot's advice, J.D. begins to move fast in his new relationship with Julie (Braff's then girlfriend Mandy Moore). Turk joins Ted and the Janitor in a rocking air band, until Kelso bans the activity. Dr. Cox is reluctant to seek out surgery alternatives for a Jehovah's Witness patient.

Elliot, Carla, and Turk are among those who stage an intervention to advise J.D. against breaking up with perfect girlfriend Julie in "Her Story II." The Janitor befriends a crow he names Sanchez in "My Cabbage." Dr. Cox and J.D. are by Mrs. Wilk's (Ms. Michael Learned) side in her dying days.

Disc 2

10. Her Story II (21:41) (Originally aired February 7, 2006)
J.D. tries to get out of his head so as not to ruin his relationship with the clumsy, compatible Julie. Thus, as reflected by the episode title, Carla gets to narrate, as the Janitor points out her rising age and she worries she might be infertile.

11. My Buddy's Booty (21:42) (Originally aired February 28, 2006)
J.D. is offended when Elliot picks Keith, his least favorite intern, as her "booty call." Carla asks Turk to plea for female equipment in the hospital's gym, creating a rift between them. Dr. Cox and the Janitor bond over bar drinks, but their friendship doesn't carry over to the workplace.

12. My Cabbage (21:41) (Originally aired February 28, 2006)
Still regularly annoyed by Elliot's permanent booty call Keith, J.D. tries to be harder on him than his other less capable interns. Turk and Elliot fumble but bond in dealing with identical twins whose father's dying note is missing. The Janitor befriends Sanchez, a crow who helps him raise trouble against Kelso's wishes.

13. My Five Stages (21:41) (Originally aired March 7, 2006)
J.D. and Dr. Cox unite in dealing with the grief counselor (Dave Foley) assigned to Mrs. Wilk in her dying days. After dabbling in booty call politics and power shifts, Elliot upgrades Keith to boyfriend. With help from the Janitor, Ted tries to capitalize on his newfound leverage with Kelso.

The Janitor's days of track and field glory are glimpsed at in "My Bright Idea." Carla helps Dr. Cox cope with his grief over his dog Baxter's death in "My Chopped Liver." J.D. is surprised to find his brother (Tom Cavanagh) under wraps in "My New Suit."

14. My Own Personal Hell (21:41) (Originally aired March 14, 2006)
Elliot's preferential treatment toward Keith is questioned by fellow interns. With sensitivity, Turk gets tested to see if he's sterile. Dr. Cox's personal plans are put on hold when Dr. Kelso requires him to pay close watch to a patient/friend.

15. My Extra Mile (21:39) (Originally aired March 21, 2006)
J.D.'s belief in patient devotion gets questioned when a leukemic woman's family expects him to shave his head in support.
Turk and other surgical residents resort to sucking up to help them vie for three attending spots. Carla and the Janitor collaborate to find a missing patient.

16. My Bright Idea (22:04) (Originally aired March 28, 2006)
Once Turk finds out Carla's pregnant before she does, J.D. and he plan an elaborate group revelation of the news to her. The Janitor unknowingly swallows an electronic hide-and-seek piece which alerts J.D. when he's near.

17. My Chopped Liver (21:41) (Originally aired April 4, 2006)
After reluctantly going on a double date with Jordan, Elliot and Keith, Dr. Cox is subjected to interns wanting to socialize with him. Standing in for a grieving Kelso, Carla upsets her co-workers with her rejections. Turk spends his treasured free time with J.D.

18. My New Suit (21:43) (Originally aired April 11, 2006)
J.D. finds it hard to be honest with his brother Dan (Tom Cavanagh), who is in town. Turk and Carla come up with potential names for their newly-conceived baby. Dr. Kelso assigns Dr. Cox to work with Ted.

The Cool Cats, Sacred Heart's premier air band, rock out to Boston's "More Than a Feeling" in one of Season 5's best episodes. In his first very own storyline, The Todd finds his sexuality questioned.

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Reviewed May 17, 2007.