DVD Review: Scrubs - The Complete Third Season
Release Date: May 9, 2006
Distributor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
· Zach Braff
· Sarah Chalke
· Donald Faison
· Neil Flynn
· Ken Jenkins
· John C. McGinley
· Judy Reyes
· Season 2 DVD Review
· Season 5 DVD Review
by Raul Burriel
Published: May 9, 2006
Scrubs has never fallen into the zany, wacky format of situation comedies, regardless of what the packaging for the season 3 DVD set might suggest. But as a single-camera comedy with serious overtones (it takes place in a hospital, after all), Scrubs did risk falling into the "life-lesson of the week". It has succeeded in avoiding this trap... until the third season.
Scrubs has always been rife with big name guest stars. This season, if anything, the names have been bigger than before. They include Michael J. Fox, Tara Reid (in a recurring role as Jordan's sister) and Brendan Fraser (also a recurring role, as Jordan's brother.) It is the Brendan Fraser guest role that pushes Scrubs into the realm of contrived sentimentality. The season then goes on to culminate with the wedding of two of the main characters, Turk (Donald Faison) and Carla (Judy Reyes). How long until the cute little kid joins the cast? (To answer that question: we need only wait until season 4 when Jordan and Dr. Cox's son starts making regular appearances.)
But despite the straying, the show loses little of its comedic impact. It's still basically the story of three hospital residents, J.D. (Zach Braff), Elliott (Sarah Chalke) and Turk and the people around them at Sacred Heart Hospital. All the regulars return, including the cunning Janitor (Neil Flynn), gruff but lovable (don't call him that to his face) Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), tough chief of medicine Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins) and nurse Carla. Christa Miller (The Drew Carey Show) also begins to establish herself as a regular character playing hospital administrator (and Cox's ex-wife) Jordan Sullivan.
Where this collection comes up tragically short is in the bonus features. In the past two seasons, I lamented that we only got two audio commentaries per disc (a total of six commentaries per season.) This season, we get the big ol' shaft with a grand total of only two commentaries, both on disc three. These are Donald Faison and writer Mark Stegemann on the episode entitle "His Story II" and show creator Randall Winston and actors Donald Faison and Judy Reyes on "My Self-Examination." Mind you, we get a huge surplus of other bonus material, including the requisite gag real, alternate lines and deleted scenes. And the menus (with Lazlo Bane's theme playing in the background) is - if anything - much more elaborate than last season's.
Certainly the extras are worth a few chuckles but what we want - what we demand these days from our premium TV show DVD collections - is audio commentaries on all episodes. I let it slide in past seasons when we only got commentaries on a handful of episodes. At least we got enough so that most of the cast got to rotate through the commentaries and we got to hear their opinions at least once. It's difficult to pinpoint just which castmember's absence from the commentaries is most painful. McGinley was my favorite, but Flynn and Jenkins were just as entertaining. And having series creator Bill Lawrence steer all the commentaries always made them come together. This time, it seems like the commentaries were an afterthought, tossed together at the last minute in an attempt to appease people like me. Certainly, we still get plenty of good lines from the commentaries ("...that's not that actress's real butt.") But it's not nearly enough.
To add insult to injury, a month after the third season of Scrubs premiere on NBC, Fox introduced Arrested Development, supplanting Scrubs as my favorite (and frankly, the best) comedy on TV. But while Arrested Development does not appear to have survived past the 2005-2006 season, Scrubs may yet return for a sixth season in 2006-2007.
Certainly, Scrubs is funny. It's surprising that by its third season the show had not yet run out of humor (willing to go where few shows dared, turning to slapstick and pratfalls to inject humor into an otherwise serious situation). But cracks are starting to show. Coupled with the linear continuity of the series (which is not conducive to new viewers), in its third season, Scrubs has suffered a little, but not a lot. It's only too bad that such a superb series doesn't get the superb treatment it deserves on DVD.