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Buena Vista Home Video presents
Scrubs: The Complete First Season (2001)

"It's never easy to see a patient who's getting worse instead of better. In fact, that's kinda the opposite of what we're going for."
- J.D. (Zach Braff)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: May 16, 2005

Stars: Zach Braff, Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison, John C.McGinley, Ken Jenkins, Neil Flynn, Judy Reyes
Other Stars: Sam Lloyd, Christa Miller, Robert Maschio, Johnny Kastl, Aloma Wright, John Ritter, Brendan Fraser, Markie Post, Jimmie Walker, Nicole Sullivan, Elizabeth Bogush, DJ Qualls, Sean Hayes, R. Lee Ermey, Scott Foley, Ed Begley Jr.,
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for nothing offensive
Run Time: 09h:17m:57s
Release Date: May 17, 2005
UPC: 786936273809
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AB+B+ A-

DVD Review

Since the departures of Seinfeld, Friends, and Frasier, there have been endless discussions on what is in fact the next great American sit-com. Here is the answer. It airs on Tuesdays on NBC and it's called Scrubs. The series, shot without a laugh track and using a single camera setup, manages to offer up a healthy balance of laughs and drama, transitioning effortlessly into each.

Scrubs has quietly become a moderate success since its debut in 2001 and while it has not reached the peak that others have, it remains (along with Arrested Development) the smartest and most kinetic comedy on television. The series is built around the lives of three first-year interns (two medical, one surgical) who are faced with the struggles of not only learning how to be good doctors but also trying to make friends amidst the pressures of their chosen professions.

The trio consists of J.D. (Braff), a neurotic young man who just wants to be a good doctor, but also wants to please everyone and never be seen as the bad guy. His best friend Turk (Faison) is the exact opposite, as he portrays a sense of infectious cockiness while never breaking a sweat in the midst of a problem, but on the inside he is just as much a shattered collection of nerves as his best friend. Elliot (Chalke) is a bungle of nerves who has a knack for always saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and talks faster than most people can comprehend.

As the pilot episode titled My First Day progresses, we are introduced to the existing characters that inhabit Sacred Heart Hospital. These include Dr. Kelso (Jenkins), the Chief of Medicine who sees patients as checkbooks rather than sick people; Carla (Reyes), a nurse who tells it like it is and will soon begin dating Turk as the season continues; and of course Dr. Cox (McGinley), who is the sarcastic backbone of the series as he torments the interns, but also offers a helping hand to help get them through their first year.

There are of course other supporting roles such as the janitor (Flynn) who torments J.D.—and J.D. alone; "The Todd" (Maschio), a frat-boy surgeon who always wants to make a double entendre regardless of the setup; and Tedd (Lloyd), a meek lawyer who may be the most consistently funny character on the series. Even as peripheral character, each of them embody some of the best performances on television today. I will say it now: how no one in this series has ever been nominated for an Emmy for their work, most notably Braff, Chalke, and McGinley, is beyond me.

Scrubs takes a strange approach in its style as, aside from the previously mentioned absence of a laugh track or the single camera setup, the show employs the use of narration as well as extended fantasy sequences that occur in J.D.'s head. These fantasies can include anything from a random cutaway to shots of the Fat Albert gang to the appearance of Jimmy Walker as J.D.'s potential dream girl in My Blind Date. The benefit of this style is that while not only offering up a change of pace, they—especially the narration—give the show an added dose of both humor and sweetness. It may seem strange to wrap things up in a tidy package at the end of each episode with the amount of cynicism that exists today, but not in your typical Full House "everything is gonna be fine because we have each other" sort of way. The thoughts that occur in J.D.'s head are well written, and offer a nice wrap up for the multiple story lines that exists in each episode.

Looking back on the first season it becomes clear that the show has not lost any strength since its inception. It is rare that the first season of a series feels just as strong as those that are still to come, but each of the episodes from this debut season represent the series at the level of quality that it maintains today. Some of the best episodes here include My Old Lady, in which the interns must deal with the loss of special patients; My Bed Banter and Beyond, where J.D. and Elliot take their relationship to the next level as the action cuts from their day in bed to the characters offering their thoughts on being a doctor and their personal struggles to a psychiatrist that is visiting the hospital. The absolute best moments are saved for the two episodes featuring Brendan Fraser as Ben, Cox's former brother-in-law who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia. The sheer amount of emotion and humor found in each of these episodes showcase why this is the pinnacle of comedies on television today.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Each episode is presented in its original 1.33:1 broadcast ratio and look just as good as they did initially. The colors are nicely rendered with little bleeding while the image itself shows very little grain. This isn't the best-looking TV set on DVD but it is certainly in the higher echelon.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround track used for the season one set of Scrubs is an adequate mix as the dialogue remains crisp and clear while the surround channels do well with ambient sounds as well as the terrific music used for the series.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
18 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
4 Featurette(s)
6 Feature/Episode commentaries by Bill Lawrence, Zach Braff, John C. McGinley, Neil Flynn, Robert Maschio, Sam Lloyd
Packaging: custom cardboard cover with sl
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes
  2. Superman music video by Lazlo Bane
Extras Review: To be truthful, Beuna Vista could have released Scrubs with no bonus material at all and I still would have been very happy. Thankfully, they went above and beyond and have included some of the best extra features that I have seen on a TV release. First is a collection of commentary tracks by creator Bill Lawrence and assorted cast members. For My First Day Lawrence flies solo, but he is joined on My Old Lady by Zach Braff, My Fifteen Minutes adds on Neil Flynn. For My Blind Date, it is once again Lawrence and Braff while My Sacrificial Clam offers Lawrence, Sam Lloyd, and Robert Maschio, and My Hero offers Lawrence and McGinley.

Each commentary is decidedly low key though there are treasures of information to be discovered. It becomes clear that both Braff and Lawrence are suffering from the flu on their tracks but they still offer up useful insights including behind-the-scenes jokes and first season secrets that are incredibly entertaining. These tracks are worth a purchase alone.

Next is a collection of interviews titled Newbies with Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, John C. McGinley, Sam Lloyd, Ken Jenkins, Judy Reyes, Neil Flynn, Aloma Wright, Christa Miller, and others recount how they came to Scrubs and share little stories including the secret that very few of the Flynn's lines are actually scripted.

Also included are 18 deleted scenes that are brief and only occasionally funny, as well as outtakes, a video for the song Superman performed by Lazlo Bane and directed by Zach Braff, and a collection of Favorite Moments from the cast and crew. Finally, a collection of Alternate takes and a brief look at the real John Dorian are also included.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

I will admit that there have been times where I have dropped everything and driven across town after forgetting to set the recorder on a Tuesday night as opposed to not being able to see an episode. That is how much I love Scrubs. It is the only show that I consider "appointment" television. If you disagree, pick up the Season One set and you will quickly be one of the converted. From the extras to the packaging, this is one of the best TV sets available today. Highly recommended.

 


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