After seven seasons on NBC, Scrubs found itself in strange circumstances at the end of the 2008 season. The Writer's Guild strike in late 2007 impacted the show's production, which led to a bit of a struggle between show creator Bill Lawrence and the network. The network tried to continue production on the show and even tried to hire non-union writers to finish work on episodes, despite Lawrence's protests.
As a sidebar: this was a little ironic because through the show's seven-year run, it was beleaguered by switching time-slots and low ratings, a shame as it was one of the funniest shows the network was airing, assuming you could find it on TV on a given week. So while Lawrence and his group were expecting to leave after Season Seven, ABC came in and asked them to produce 18 more episodes in an eighth season. Lawrence presumably took this opportunity because, if nothing else, it gave the chance for the staff of fictional Sacred Heart Hospital to leave on their own terms and perhaps a wider audience to boot.
For those unfamiliar with the show, it's main character in J.D., or John Dorian (Zach Braff, Scrubs). J.D.'s inner monologue is the comedic voice for the show as the people in his life at the hospital are introduced. Whether it's his girlfriend Elliot (Sarah Chalke, Roseanne), his best friend from college Chris Turk (Donald Faison, Clueless), his wife Carla (Judy Reyes) or their boss Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley, Platoon), they all get a comic skewering, either in real-life or in J.D.'s head. It's worked for seven years, yet still remains funny for most of the eighth season.
Through the years, the main component driving the show forward was the "bromance" between J.D. and Turk. Some of their hijinks involved innocuous games like "steak" and "hide the cracker," but other times you couldn't help but enjoy what they could get away with, and the joys they had, which knew no political correctness bounds, as J.D. referred to the African-American Turk as his "brown bear." But through the years as they were growing older and starting families, they both sensed the fun was winding down and transitioning to a new phase in their lives. While we still see them engage in silliness, they also have to balance this between their girlfriends/wives and children. In Season Eight they handle both effectively, not to mention pull at the heartstrings.
A good example of this is "My Last Words," when J.D. and Turk comfort a lonely, dying man in intensive care, played by Glynn Turman (In Treatment). They both discuss how death affects their work and assess where they are with their relationships to some degree. Many of the other episodes in the season cover things like moving onto new ground, such as "My Happy Place," where Dr. Cox finally stops looking over Turk's shoulder in patient's rooms, or "My Nah Nah Nah," when Cox' wife Jordan (played by Lawrence's wife, Christa Miller, from The Drew Carey Show) is curious about why he's wearing his wedding ring, when he's normally a cold, heartless fellow. Season Eight is as much about accepting new phases of personal growth for the characters as it is a proper goodbye to a great show.The Blu-ray Disc:
This release of Scrubs is notable for being the first season of the show filmed in high-definition, and the AVC MPEG-4 encode for the show works fine, thank you very much. You see more image detail than in previous years, but as a sitcom, there's not much production value to be gained from this. It was decently shot in full frame in the last two of three years on NBC, and the high definition look translates nicely. But why Disney releases the Blu-ray its proper video format when the standard definition set was released in full frame is a bit of a head scratcher.Sound:
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround, which as a longtime Scrubs fan is nice to listen to. Through the years Lawrence has weaved some excellent songs into the show, to the point where a couple of soundtrack compilations were released, and to hear the music from this season in lossless audio is a treat. Dialogue stays strong in the center channel, and there's occasional use of the rear channels for directional effects and activity. The subwoofer doesn't engage during the season but it doesn't need to; everything is controlled and effective sonically.Extras:
For whatever reason, Disney releases Season Eight of Scrubs three months after its standard-definition partner, but at least gives the consumer a $10 mail-in rebate and some extra material exclusive to the Blu-ray release. What are those exclusives? Seamless menus, the SeasonPass option (which allows you to pick up the season from any stopped point with a user-created profile) and "It's All in the Name" (2:48), which highlights all of the women's names Dr. Cox has used when asking for/talking to J.D. Yay, additional value!
To be fair, compared to other Scrubs seasons, Lawrence and gang have packed the extra material on here (most of it on the second of two discs), starting with commentaries on all episodes. Lawrence contributes on every one, and the cast (with the exception of Reyes) and selected crew join in on the fun. The differences on working on ABC from NBC are covered, and there's lots of show watching, and laughing at particular jokes. Lawrence talks about how the show regained its creative footing, and the cast members share their thoughts on the show and the people they worked with. If you like the show a little bit, these commentaries are worth listening to for enjoyment's sake.
From there, "My Bahamas Vacation" (20:14) looks at the show's production during the "My Soul on Fire" two-part episode late in the year. Lawrence (whose parents live on the Bahamian island of Hope Town, where the episode was shot), discusses the whys and hows for shooting there. The cast and crew talk about how nice the island is and there's loads of footage of general cast goofiness, including Robert Maschio (who plays The Todd) surfing in his banana hammock. All in all this is pretty fun. The deleted scenes (15, 11:47) are neat in the way the original aired scene is first shown, followed by the deleted footage. The alternate lines (17, 14:48) are done the same way. The blooper reel (3:12) is cute, but quick. The webisodes (12, 38:00) featuring the new class "interns" is next, but they're all in character, are a bit long and boring after awhile.Final Thoughts:
The eighth season of Scrubs gave Lawrence, Braff and gang a chance to give the show the goodbye that it might not have gotten on the network it used to be on. It was funnier and more compelling than it had been in the last couple years because the cast "was definitely, for sure" in a position not to return for another year, despite current rumors to the contrary. Technically it looks and sounds better than any of the other seasons and the supplements are better than expected. I'd pick this one up if you're a serious fan, or if you were lucky enough to wait Disney out and get the proper video treatment the show received during its broadcast run.