Certainly one of the finest sitcoms since "Seinfeld" (and it even offers a "Seinfeld" parody in "My Karma") and one of the best ensemble casts in a good ten years, I've often said "Scrubs" is one of network televisions few bright spots since its debut in 2001. For those unfamiliar with the series, it focuses on a group of new medical interns at a local hospital, including John Dorian "J.D." (Zach Braff), Turk (Donald Faison) and the attractive, yet neurotic Elliot (Sarah Chalke). They're looked over by the near-psychotic Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley in an amazing performance), cost-cutting head Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), nurse Carla (Judy Reyes) and others, including Janitor (the brilliant Neil Flynn).
During the first year, "Scrubs" launched with an unusually high degree of confidence. The show's mixture of the real and the surreal is often brilliant, as the random dream sequences are at their best during some of the first season episodes. The show's ability to mix comedy and drama is downright remarkable, such as the incredibly touching season 1 two-parter "My Occurence"/"My Hero", which stars Brendan Frasier as Cox's best friend and his ex-wive's brother, who finds himself admitted to the hospital for a serious issue. I won't give away any more than that, but while "Scrubs" had been terrific up until this point, it's this exceptional two-parter where the show really showed what it was capable of and it showed non-believers that it deserved to be around for a long, long time.
"Scrubs" is a delicate balance, and yet creator Bill Lawrence ("Spin City") manages to get it right nearly all of the time. The show's dream sequences are remarkably funny and add even more punctuation to nearly all of the show's bits. It helps that two of the show's writers, Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan, were picked up from the king of surreal dream sequences, the animated "Family Guy". The performances by the leads are also first-rate, as Braff makes for a likable "everyguy" and Faison somehow balances a frat-guy sense of humor with a lot of intelligence and heart. Sarah Chalke is also makes what could be an unlikable character charming. Finally, John C. McGinley rips into the role of Dr. Cox, who terrorizes everyone but occasionally lets a caring side show.
The show's supporting cast is simply priceless, lead by Robert Maschio as Todd (aka "The Todd") a "frat boy" surgeon who turns every sentence into something sexual, yet he also somehow is a good doctor. As we learn in the first commentary on the second season DVD, "The Todd"'s high-five "whoosh" is the only sound effect left in a show that used to have quite a few. There's also Ted, the hospital lawyer who is a reluctant servant of Kelso. Johnny Kastl plays a wonderful target for Kelso and Cox, as Dr. Doug Murphy, a resident Cox refers to as "nervous guy." Finally, there's Christa Miller ("Drew Carey Show" and creator Lawrence's wife), playing Cox's ex-wife, who's as much of a rage-a-holic as he is. The cast works together perfectly, especially Faison and Braff, who are completely believable as long-time friends. One of the best character elements of the series is that everyone's flawed and the mistakes that people make here aren't sitcom cliches, but feel real. It's one of the reasons why "Scrubs" can manage to be so touching at times, and why the characters are so engaging.
The second season starts off after Jordan (Miller) dropped a bombshell in the last episode of the first season, revealing a secret each character had been sitting on. The second season surprised many by not only keeping up the remarkable level of quality that the first season had held up, but actually improving on it in some regards.
The second season has the former interns are now residents, and the episodes continue to develop the characters and relationships, such as the romantic tension still working between J.D. and Elliot and the mentor/goof relationship between Dr. Cox and J.D. There's also other subplots, such as Elliot dealing with being cut-off financially by her wealthy parents. The writing also became consistently even sharper and funnier, with many of Braff's random throwaway lines and inner dialogues remaining classics, including "I made a lanyard" (to no one in particular after an attack from Jordan about Summer camp.) "Scrubs" also continues its brilliantly oddball moments, such as Ted's barbershop quartet, who make return appearances this season.
Highlights of this season include: "My Overkill" (the characters deal with the fallout after the last episode of the first season. Colin Hay of "Men at Work" fame provides a great song played at various points throughout the episode, including one great moment where McGinley's character becomes irritated after waiting for the song to end), "My Case Study" (which features a brilliant pair of happy/angry hall walks from Dr. Kelso), "My Big Brother" (which features a great guest spot from "Ed"'s Tom Cavanaugh, playing J.D.'s older brother), "My First Step" (Heather Locklear guests as a pharmacutical rep that everyone lusts after), "My Lucky Day" (J.D. and Dr. Cox treat two patients with the same diagnosis, leading to one of the season's funniest Cox bits: "Two identical patients, I say we divide 'em up, just like in 'The Parent Trap.'"). There's plenty of other gems, as well, including "My Philosophy" (Turk finally decides to propose to Carla, but a kid swallows the ring first); the Cox-focused "His Story" and "My T.C.W." (JD thinks about starting up a relationship with the attractive wife of a man in a coma - hence "T.C.W.", or "Tasty Coma Wife" - played by guest star Amy Smart).
25: My Overkill
26: My Nightingale
27: My Case Study
28: My Big Mouth
29: My New Coat
30: My Big Brother
31: My First Step
32: My Fruit Cups
33: My Lucky Day
34: My Monster
35: My Sex Buddy
36: My New Old Friend
37: My Philosophy
38: My Brother, My Keeper
39: His Story
40: My Karma
41: My Own Private Practice Guy
42: My T.C.W.
43: My Kingdom
44: My Interpretation
45: My Drama Queen
46: My Dream Job
VIDEO: "Scrubs" is presented in the show's original 1.33:1 full-frame aspect ratio by Buena Vista. Presentation quality is generally very good, as although some of the first episodes look a little less vibrant than later efforts, the episodes as a whole look as good as they did when they were originally broadcast. Sharpness and detail are never really exceptional in any way, but the picture does at least maintain a consistent level of definition, and always appears at least crisp.
Some minor grain and edge enhancement appear at times during the proceedings, but mostly, the presentation appeared clear and free of flaws. No wear was present on the elements used. The show's color palette is mostly fairly low-key, although bright colors occasionally show through quite nicely. No smearing or other faults are spotted. Black level appeared solid, while flesh tones looked natural.
SOUND: "Scrubs" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 here. Despite the 5.1 presentation, the sound still remains fairly front-heavy, with dialogue and music remaining crisp and clear throughout.
EXTRAS: Creator Bill Lawrence and actors Zack Braff and Donald Faison provide a commentary for "My Overkill" and start off by commenting on Miller (wife of Lawrence)'s figure. The three have a great time chatting about the episode, joking about some of the moments in the episode and pointing out some of the episode's smaller details. There's not a lot of in-depth information here, but the track is a great deal of fun.
"My Case Study" offers a commentary from Lawrence and actor Ken Jenings. The track is a bit subdued, but we get some good details about the making of the episodes, some behind-the-scenes stories and jokes about on-screen moments. "My First Step" offers a track from Lawrence and Faison, who riff on the episode in a funny, but not particularly detailed track.
On the second disc, "My Sex Buddy" offers commentary from Lawrence and actress Sarah Chalke and "His Story" offers comments from Lawrence and actor John C. McGinley. Both commentaries are a lot of fun, but the McGinley track is just about the best of the set, as it offers the most detail about characters and production and also offers McGinley's quick and funny comments about day-to-day life on the series. Finally, the third disc offers an entertaining commentary from Lawrence and Judy Reyes on "My TCW".
Also on the first disc is "Johnny C. Keeps Talking" (about 5:30), which is an interview with actor John C. McGinley, talking about various aspects of the series, such as getting the role and creating the character. "A Rare Condition" is a 15-minute "behind-the-scenes" piece looking at season 2, starting off with another performance from Ted's Group. Throughout the documentary, we learn about how the cast and crew have gotten used to having to work in a giant abandoned hospital, about costumes and how stunt work is done on the show's fairly small budget.
Also on the second disc are "Stunt Casting" (guest stars) and "A Second Opinion: Alternate Lines" (improvs.) The third disc offers "Musical Stylings" (a featurette the hugely important role of music in the series.), "Secrets and Lies" (stories from behind-the-scenes, such as Donald Faison missing 21 jump shots in a row while trying to film a lengthy tracking shot and moments in early seasons where the cast had partied too much before shooting), "Scrubbed Moments" (9 minutes of deleted scenes), "Practice, Practice and Malpractice" (about 5 minutes of very funny bloopers), "Imagination Run Wild" (the show's fantasy sequences) and "JD's Mojo" (sex scenes in the second season.)
Final Thoughts: "Scrubs" is even better the second time around, with performances that are even better and a wealth of wonderful episodes. The DVD set provides fine audio/video quality and, as with the first season, a terrific set of supplements. Still one of the funniest shows on TV, the second season of "Scrubs" is highly recommended.