Some television shows are self-aware of their value to the entertainment world, and wisely recognize when it is time to call it a day. The Eighth season of Scrubs ended on a positive note; one that didn’t call for any continuation. But, much like a vehicle owner that firmly believes he can squeeze one last trip down the road out of his once-faithful jalopy, series creator Bill Lawrence decided that he’d give Scrubs a final go. The result was a pseudo spin-off: something that bears the onscreen title of Scrubs: Med School, but is referred to on DVD as Scrubs: The Complete And Final Ninth Season.
First off, this isn’t the same Scrubs many of us had embraced so well. For starters, the setting is different. Instead of the original Sacred Heart Hospital, the series now takes place at a newly-constructed Sacred Heart teaching hospital located within Winston University. The cast has also changed considerably: Judy Reyes’ Nurse Carla is nowhere to be seen; Neil Flynn’s janitor character makes a thirty second cameo in the first episode before disappearing forever; and other series favorites Zach Braff (Dr. Dorian), Sarah Chalke (Dr. Reid), and Ken Jenkins (Dr. Kelso) only pop up in a few of the season’s thirteen episodes (with Jenkins emerging victorious as the most frequent guest star).
But perhaps the biggest change in cast is the addition of new characters. Faithful viewers will no doubt recall the introduction of Eliza Coupe as intern Denise Mahoney in Season Eight. Eliza returns here as a resident teacher/physician, playing second fiddle to the show’s new leads, Donald Faison (Dr. Turk) and John C. McGinley (Dr. Cox); while all three teaching heads preside (and often make room for) newbies Kerry Bishé (who essentially takes over JD’s narrating and daydreaming duties), Michael Mosley (a nice addition, serving as both Dr. Cox’s protégé and Coupe’s love-interest), and James Franco’s little brother Dave (who plays a complete and utter ass).
As depressing and uninteresting as it may sound, Scrubs: The Complete And Final Ninth Season isn’t 100% bad. In fact, it holds a number of great moments. Sure, most of said “great moments” happen to occur when Zach Braff is guest-starring (he appears in six episodes total here as a teacher), but the rest of the cast (old and new alike) are given a number of memorable moments as well. McGinley and Faison play off of each other quite well, while semi-regular Jenkins gets a chance to stretch the god-like character of Bob Kelso a bit further than he has in the past: with the old hospital’s coffee shop and his sufferable wife both gone, Kelso now frequents the University grounds to do a bit of teaching as well…but mostly just to mack on the ladies and party it up with the students.
In all probability, the biggest downside of Scrubs: The Complete And Final Ninth Season is the new cast. Several of the new actors and actresses seem like pale imitations of their forerunners. Fortunately, Bill Lawrence and his writing crew manage to turn these clones into (mostly) unique individuals. Unfortunately, by the time those of you who will begin to bond with the new characters do begin to bond, the series comes to an abrupt end — a somewhat bittersweet (emphasis on “bitter”) conclusion courtesy of the execs at the ABC network, who decided to take Scrubs off of life support once and for all.
The two-disc DVD set of Scrubs: The Complete And Final Ninth Season presents all thirteen episodes in their original SD-TV 1.33:1 full frame ratio with 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. For the most part, the video is above average, with a couple of grainy moments to be had (the previous season was released on Blu-ray, but I don‘t know if this one will be seeing such treatment), and the mostly front-heavy audio comes through without any noticeable distractions. English, Spanish, and French subtitles are included.
On the special features side of this release, Scrubs: The Complete And Final Ninth Season contains what is perhaps the weakest of bonuses any Season Set of Scrubs has ever had. There are no audio commentaries to be found here, and a six-minute featurette “Scrubbing In” (hosted by Zach Braff) does little to make one feel better about the way the series ends. Nearly ten-minutes worth of deleted scenes are introduced by Bill Lawrence who — atypical to previous DVD sets — appears via split screen next to the snipped bits in question and talks over the very moments he boasts about being so funny or clever. Sigh. An all-too-brief blooper reel really doesn’t succeed in doing anything for anyone (other than the bloke that edited the so-called featurette together, perhaps), nor does the fourth and final featurette, “Live From The Golf Cart,” a mostly unfunny crumb featuring Windell Middlebrooks and co-writer Steven Cragg (who appears off and on throughout this series as Winston University’s dimwitted campus security officers.
Yes, Scrubs: The Complete And Final Ninth Season (Scrubs: Med School, depending on how you choose to look at it) is disappointing (especially if you watch the special features). While there are a couple of really great ups to be had here, there are also a number of painful “bull-in-the-china-shop” downs. In short, the beloved television sitcom goes out with a whimper instead of a bang.
One might even diagnose this final hoorah as bi-polar.