|Packaging & Presentation...|
Scrubs Season One comes to you on DVD in a fold-out cardboard binder that slides out of a holder-sleeve. The three discs are situated so that disc one and two overlap each other and the top disc has to be lifted out to get to the lower disc (not my personal favorite disc-holder style); disc three is housed by itself. The packaging is creative, and simulates a doctor's clip-board which holds a booklet (noting the location of each episode and special feature) and there is a very cool transparent X-ray film print that's attached to the outside cover to emulate the "Scrubs" show title that opens each episode. Very cool. Silk-screen art is on all 3 discs which may not sound impressive to an adult-audience but it's been used as an opportunity to print out each episode title on each DVD which should matter to you as it saves you from having to find the booklet that you've lost or pop each disc in/out trying to find where that particular episode is hidden.
Nice presentation overall.
I love this show.
Scrubs was brought to life through creator Bill Lawrence who is/was also involved with Spin City, Friends, The Nanny, and Will & Grace. If you've enjoyed any of those series but haven't seen Scrubs, give it a try. Scrubs brings a great deal of intelligent humor, creative fun, unorthodox risk-taking, and some very, very good writing and puts together a show that is severely entertaining--while at the same time dares to go a little deeper than most network programming. It's strength as a entertainment works because all of the component dynamics work together; the blend and balance between humor and drama is brilliant (and rarely seen on network programming).
Writing is fantastic. Acting is sharp. Comic-timing spot-on. And the show can throw you an emotional curve ball that hits you squarely where the producers wanted without the episode feeling corny or like a glorified sounding-horn for some "message" that was waiting to be told. For lack of a better word, the emotion feels real.
I'm not in a position to comment on how well/poorly the show comes in at accurately portraying real hospital life, but in reviewing the special feature content on the disc, it's clear just how sincere the creative team was about maintaining a feeling of authenticity about the procedures and situations (at least in spirit) while keeping the film true to its "entertainment" mission. Whether you are a nurse, intern, doctor, or none of the above, Scrubs is a show where you can identify--the situations and relationships the characters explore translate easily into many walks of life and the medical context of the show provides an excellent vehicle for the series. My favorite technique is the way Scrubs interweaves "fantasy" sequences into the program to create an edgy, fast-paced momentum that keeps you paying attention so nothing takes you by surprise. With more wit-filled banter than a 1940's Katherine Hepburn/Cary Grant romance-comedy, Scrubs is a show that show-cases dialogue at it's best. Thank-god for DVD...it's not cheating to hit the rewind or throw on the captions to catch that conversation or key dialogue that managed to slip by...once I got over the shame I found a great freedom in allowing myself to "play again with subtitles" without guilt.
Scrubs was shot on 4x3 video in what appears to be 480-interlaced. This is a shame as 480P (and HD) cameras were around when this show first hit the air, but I suppose that most producers don't really think of their programming in terms of how it looks projected on a wide-angle system (even shooting 480-Progressive can look so much better than 480I which will inevitably need to be deinterlaced on HD/digital displays). Scrubs was filmed for 27" 480-interlaced TVs and it looks that way. So I guess it's not fair to review the image quality on a 106" diagonal screen but I'll do it anyway (obviously, if you *are* watching on a 27" TV...these won't be artifacts you'll find distracting).
Moire patterns obscure fine detail, minor edge-halos appear from time to time and the image never breaks free from its "video camera" signature. On the plus side, colors tend to be good, and compression artifacting (from MPEG compression on DVD) seems to be minimal. Contrast seems limited however and the image doesn't "snap" or have that crisp 3-dimensionality that even good NTSC video can pull off (seems a little flatter and less punchy than I would have liked). Still, it's satisfying enough, and aside from the less-than-stellar deinterlacer in my DVD player, I was able to lose myself into the show on my projection screen just as easily (if not more so) than on the tube. I can certainly tell you one thing...the DVD isn't doing anything to degrade the image...this is probably the best that this source material has ever looked outside the studio facilities so no complaints in terms of "DVD mastering" per-se.
When you start watching, do note that the picture quality of the first show (the pilot) is pretty poor and not representative of the rest of the series. The Pilot is noisy, riddled with distracting aliasing artifacting and is dull with lifeless colors (on a high-resolution projection system, it may look more passable on a smaller display). I got nervous but kept my fingers crossed that after the pilot things would shape up and that's exactly what they did...the rest of the shows won't necessarily having you tossing your Fifth Element Super-bit copy to make room for new demo-material, but they do tend to rectify most of the offenses of the first show...video noise vanishes, colors intensify, the image becomes a bit more dynamic in terms of contrast and black-level and visible scan-line aliasing also diminishes to the performance characteristics of the deinterlacing chip in your signal chain (for those viewing on progressive-scan displays which is probably most of you on the forum).
Picture Quality: 3 / 5
In the past I think I've been too ambiguous with my scoring or at least haven't applied it consistently from title to title, so I've endeavored to define my rating system more clearly to help make the scoring more meaningful (for all titles reviewed December 2004 and later):
|1-2||An absolute abomination. Hurts to watch. Think "Outland" (scan-line aliasing, chroma noise, dotcrawl)-- truly horrid.|
|2-3||Has some serious problems, but one can at least watch it without getting a headache despite all the problems though you might try to talk your guests into picking a different movie to watch if you have a large projection screen. Think Cold Mountain.|
|3-4||Good or at least "acceptable" on a big-screen, but not winning any awards and definitely room for improvement if you view the image wide-angle (though smaller-screen viewers may be quite content). Think the first extended cut of Fellowship of the Ring...decent picture but still some HF filtering and some edge-halos.|
|4-5||A reference picture that really makes the most of the DVD medium and shows extraordinary transparency to the film-source elements. Non-videophile observers can't help but remark "WOW". Think The Empire Strikes Back or the Fifth Element Superbit (full â€œ5â€ would be sans EE).|
Actually pretty good. The (English Only) audio is presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital (encoded for surround) and sounds better than what you'd expect for a television show. Overall the presentation is pretty front-and-center heavy, but during musical interludes there's a nice left-right spread and even some ambient fill to occasionally find its way to the rear channel. Dialogue is clear and intelligible and never irritatingly harsh. The scene where the helicopter flies overhead and crashes into the parked shool-bus makes excellent use of the 5.1 array along with some pretty room-shaking bass-impact. Just kidding--wanted to see if you really were reading this or not...
Acceptable, better-than-average "TV Show" sound-quality.
Sound Quality: 3.5 / 5
In my humble opinion, the bonus features on this Season One Scrubs set are generous. There is a nice mix of character-interviews, behind-the-scenes takes, Show-commentary (6 episodes spread over the 3 discs), Music-video etc. It may not be Return-of-the-Kind Extended Edition-level special feature content, but it's better than many TV show SE-content that I've come across. Each disc has a nice smattering of extras...they're not all lumped together on the third disc. I like this distribution...as you're watching your way through the series you get a chance to check out bonus content as you go.
- [*]Newbies: This was the longest and most definitive "making of" type documentary on the bonus material. Creator/producer Bill Lawrence does lots of talking along with many of the cast and crew. I think that even casual program viewers will enjoy taking the time to check this out as it really expands one's appreciation for the series realizing the care and talent that go into the finished product we enjoy.
[*]Commentaries: There are three episodes with Commentary: "My First Day" (pilot show with creator Bill Lawrence), "My Old Lady" (Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff who plays J.D. in the show), and "My Fifteen Minutes" (Bill Lawrence and Actor Neil Flynn). In all cases (here and throughout the entire set) Bill Lawrence is present on the commentaries and has one or two guest actors/talent join him for the fun. Actually, the most revealing/interesting commentary for me was the pilot show where Bill goes solo--he actually seems motivated to talk more in-depth about the show and where he was coming from when he's just got himself to talk to...with other comrades it's still interesting, but tends to drift into "remember when" buddy-talk just a little too often for someone trying to "learn" from the commentary...though fans of the actors will probably enjoy hearing that banter just as much. These commentaries, surprising for me, are easy to get "sucked into" and I found myself rewatching entire episodes I had just watched over again with commentary and not only not getting bored...but also finding myself frustrated when I eventually had to stop listening because of other prior engagements. That's a good sign because I'm not really a commentary sort of guy so if it interests me it probably interests other fans as well.[/list]
- [*]Superman Music Video: Haven't had a chance to screen this on my home system yet so I can't report if it's 16x9 and/or 5.1...but I can say that it's 1.78:1 in aspect ratio and looks/sounds passable.
[*]The Doctor is in: Interview segment detailing Zach Bragg who plays lead "J.D." in the show. Fans will enjoy but casual viewers may want to invest time in other content first.
[*]Alternate Lines: A nice montage of various memorable dialogue moments from the show (from different episodes) showing alternate takes with subtle and sometimes not-subtle changes to wording or emphasis. I really liked this feature because it illustrated just how much time can go into just a few seconds of on-air footage that looked straight-forward enough in the finished show without any indication of the polish and tweaking that went into getting it just right. One can only imagine by extrapolating how much time and energy went into making each finished program.
[*]Commentary: "My Blind Date" with commentary by Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff.[/list]
- [*]Not Just Another Medical Show: Very nice special feature that focuses on everything that went into getting the medical stuff right...from technical terms to real-world hospital stories to choosing sets (a real hospital venue was used) to getting experienced medical professionals to review scripts and blocking to make sure the show stuck to the facts as best as possible. You'll also meet the "real" J.D. here...the friend of Bill Lawrence who served as inspiration for the premise and execution of the series.
[*]Favorite Moments: A nice cross section of brief interviews with various cast and crew recalling memories from on-set action.
[*]Outtakes: Basically a blooper reel in montage form. Cute but not life-changing...fans and non-fans will enjoy and it's not very long so don't worry not having time...just click it.
[*][b]Deleted Scenes: A few scenes here that didn't make it into the series. Best to watch these after having just finished the season so you'll know the shows/context to which they belonged (wisely this feature appears on Disc 3).
[*][b]Commentaries: "My Sacrificial Clam" (Bill Lawrence, Sam Lloyd and Robert Maschio), "My Hero" (Bill Lawrence and John C. McGinley who plays Dr. Cox). I personally found these last two commentaries very interesting...the shows picked for commentary and the actors who accompany Bill are not arbitrarily selected...they're thoughtfully chosen and it makes sense when you watch/listen.[/list]
It's a great TV show. It's as entertaining and well-written as Friends, The Nanny, and Will & Grace, but Scrubs brings something richer to the plate by taking some risks and going deeper than these other programs into the characters--into their lives, their emotions, and their motivations. Managing to do all that and keep the comedy-level top-notch is no small accomplishment, and it's one of the reasons why I have such respect for this show and all those who worked so hard to bring it together. It's not fair to characterize Scrubs as a simple "comedy"...it's really a "comedy-drama" if there were such a genre.
Here's the first-season for you to own on DVD. Picture quality isn't big-screen worthy, but that's source-related and not a DVD-mastering issue (Scrubs has never looked better, all things being equal). Sound is good and bonus materials are satisfying for both fans and casual viewers alike. If you enjoy good humor, intelligent dialogue, and relish an edgy style that probes a little more deeply into the hearts, minds, and issues of its characters than the usual network fluff, give Scrubs a try. You'll be rewarded!