Ever since its inception, Scrubs has been unafraid to indulge in sentimentality. While the comedy has always been whimsical, creator Bill Lawrence has interwoven serious dramatic materials into the show all the way through. It's a delicate balance, but the series always made sure that the laughs balanced out the serious side, and hopefully the two elements elevated each other. Unfortunately, the sixth season marks the end of an incredible five-year run of keeping that balance in check.
At the end of season five, J.D. (Zach Braff) discovered that his "not really a girlfiend" Dr. Kim (Elizabeth Banks) is pregnant...and J.D. is the father. This news throws J.D. into a crisis. He's never been the most mature guy in the first place, and now he's got the responsibilities of a father and a provider. His own dad was a terrible role model, and to make matters worse, J.D. isn't even sure he likes Kim. Certainly a bad start for a new parental relationship.
In my opinion, this is the worst storyline Scrubs has ever had. The entire series has been about J.D.'s road to maturity, but it was always an organic process. This baby is not only thrust upon J.D., it's thrust upon the audience. It's an abrupt interruption from the flow of the show. And yes, you could make the argument that the unexpected happens in life, but let's face it, this isn't real life. How many completely unbelievable events have occurred over the course of the show's run? While Scrubs has never felt like one long ongoing story, it always seemed like Bill Lawrence had some idea of where he wanted his characters to go. This baby is the first time that I felt like the writing team was grasping at straws.
Zach Braff has made no secret that he's aching to distance himself from Scrubs and his persona as that disarmingly clueless but loveable doctor J.D. You can feel him straining with the character, only putting in half as much energy as he used to. Perhaps part of it is his J.D.'s internal struggle making him listless, but it's hard to look at it that way given Braff's vocal opposition to remaining with the show.
Elizabeth Banks doesn't get much better treatment. She's a graduate of both the David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) and Judd Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin) schools of comedy, but she's completely wasted here in a thankless role that does nothing but pile on the pain. She's perpetually at the mercy of J.D.'s mercurial moods, and her solution to the problem is about as despicable as you can get. The resolution, while an attempt to make J.D. more mature, just feels forced.
Thank goodness the rest of the cast are there to salvage the season. Sarah Chalke really steps up to the plate, portraying Elliot as satisfyingly confident, and sparring mostly with Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), who is as verbally abusive and thus hilarious as ever. Turk (Donald Faison) and Carla (Judy Reyes) also shine with a much better baby storyline (i.e. they actually want this kid). This is where we get our laughs, and luckily they're still as spot on as ever. In some ways, the lack of J.D. humor helps the audience realize just how talented everyone else is.
Season six of Scrubs is still funny, it's just that the main storyline is such a downer that it overshadows what the audience tunes in for: the laughs. I applaud Bill Lawrence and the rest of the writing team for trying to branch out, but to do so in such an awkward and haphazard manner does the show no favors. I'm still recommending the set, because if you're six seasons in to the show, you will find enough laughs here to make it worthwhile, but it's with the caveat that this just isn't up to the level of the past five years.
The episodes included in this season are as follows:
"My Mirror Image"
"My Best Friend's Baby's Baby And My Baby's Baby"
"My Friend With Money"
"His Story IV"
"My Road To Nowhere"
"My Therapeutic Month"
"My Night To Remember"
"My No Good Reason"
"My Long Goodbye"
"My Words Of Wisdom"
"My Turf War"
"My Cold Shower"
"My Conventional Wisdom"
"My Point Of No Return"
Disney presents Scrubs in a 1.33:1 full frame transfer. On the whole, the image on this set is fairly average. You'd think a brand new TV show would offer up a sharp and clear picture, but this is strictly middle of the road. I did notice some minor artifacting, which unfortunately is all too common on sets that put a lot of footage onto one disc. Still, this is far from the worst DVD I've ever seen, and it looks better than any TV broadcast that you'll find.
Scrubs gets the full Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment (presumably the mix used for the high def broadcasts), but this has always been a dialogue-based comedy. Still, the various sound effects employed throughout the series do offer some directional panning. Less convincing are the rear surrounds, which are used sparingly. Dialogue, the most important part of the show, is well balanced and always easy to hear.
In a nice change of pace from the typical TV on DVD set, every single episode of the sixth season of Scrubs gets a cast and crew commentary. For the most part, things are pretty lively, although by the end of the season it seems like people start running out of things to say. Still a good additional value. You can choose to watch individual episodes with commentary, or you can choose to play all the episodes on a disc in a row, each with corresponding commentary.
The third disc of the set offers the rest of the extras in the form of featurettes. There are the expected deleted and alternate scenes, of course. We get several different featurettes, including a making-of on the "My Musical" episode, which is sadly too short to really go in depth. There's a chat with Judy Reyes called "Judy Reyes Keeps Talking," a featurette focusing on the supporting cast called "The Third Tier," and a "The Deborah and Stephanie Show" which is another discussion about the "My Musical" episode. Aside from the deleted/alternate scenes and comentaries, there's not much to shout about in the extras package.
Scrubs is a hilarious show, with a varied and talented cast. The sixth season still brings the laughs, but they're tempered by a heavy handed storyline that just won't go away. Still, for fans of the show, season six will still be worth watching. The DVD has audio/visual quality that tops any TV broadcast, but will never be home demo material. The crown jewel of the extras package is a cast and crew commentary on every episode. Not the best set I've ever seen, but still a worthy purchase for fans. Recommended.
Daniel Hirshleifer is the High Definition Editor for DVD Talk.