Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Bill Lawrence et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 414 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 54.99
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Review Date: November 11, 2009
Around the time of its fourth or fifth season, Scrubs slowly evolved into more of a surreal comedy-drama than a straight hospital comedy show. As the seasons have passed, some characters may have left the show or switched positions, but the surrealism and outright silly overemphasis on cutesy overplaying by certain characters have dissipated the audience for the show, a program which on occasion can still be funny and poignant when one is able to look past its absurdist tendencies. The eighth season of the show, the last under this current format though some of the actors will be returning on ABC at midseason in a spinoff series with the doctors teaching medicine, has the usual ups and downs which the show suffered from during its last half dozen years. For fans of the show, they’re going to get more of the same now in high definition of their favorite hospital hijinks. All others need to check in elsewhere.
Zach Braff still toplines the show as Dr. “J.D.” Dorian, well meaning attending doctor at Sacred Heart Hospital. He’s a doctor prone to daydreaming, fantasies which can lead to musical numbers, assaults from the cast of Sesame Street, or simply conjuring sexual situations in his head before snapping back to reality. On again-off again-now on again sweetheart Dr. Elliott Reid (Sarah Chalke) continues as another attending doctor, both overseen by the ever-sarcastic and expert master of the put-down Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley) who midway through the season becomes the new head of medicine at Sacred Heart. J.D.’s best friend, Dr. Chris Turk (Donald Faison) continues his bromance with J.D. while Turk’s wife Carla (Judy Reyes) has remained as head of nurses there. Dr. Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins) has retired as head of medicine but has stayed around to take advantage of the free muffins for him in the hospital’s coffee shop. The eternally prank-filled janitor (Neil Flynn) comes back after being fired in the season premiere by guest star Courtney Cox (who stays for three fun-filled episodes) to continue terrorizing doctors and nurses alike in the halls and corridors of the hospital (it is a pleasure that his practical jokes are now spread among all the staff rather than all simply aimed at J.D.), and sad sack legal accountant Ted Buckland (Sam Lloyd) repeats his mopey ways as before only with a girl friend added near the end of the run.
A handful of new interns give the regular cast new focuses for their potshots or helpful assistance with their stories. Like Grey’s Anatomy with their influx of new interns over two seasons, it took the producers most of the season to get much backstory developed for these characters, and even then, some of them were underutilized and then let go before the season ended. Among the ones who stood out are Aziz Ansari as the lazy Ed, Betsy Beutter as the effervescent Katie, Eliza Coupe as the serious-minded and too-dedicated Denise, and Sonal Shah as the upbeat Sunny.
Here are the nineteen episodes contained on the set’s two Blu-ray discs. The episodes with names in parentheses contain audio commentaries. Creator/executive producer Bill Lawrence participates in every commentary, so I have omitted his name from every listing. The other persons are with him for the relatively low-key conversations.
1 – My Jerks (writer Kevin Biegel)
2 – My Last Words (Zach Braff)
3 – My Saving Grace (Kevin Biegel)
4 – My Happy Place (Robert Maschio aka “The Todd”)
5 – My ABC’s (producer Randall Winston, Kevin Biegel, Sonal Shah, Eliza Coupe)
6 – My Cookie Pants (John C. McGinley)
7 – My New Role (Ken Jenkins)
8 – My Lawyers in Love (Neil Flynn)
9 – My Absence (Randall Winston, Kevin Biegel, Sonal Shah, Eliza Coupe)
10 – My Comedy Show (Sonal Shah, Eliza Coupe)
11 – My Nah Nah Nah (Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison)
12 – Their Story II (Randall Winston, Neil Flynn)
13 – My Full Moon (Sarah Chalke, Donald Faison)
14 – My Soul on Fire (Part 1) (Christa Miller)
15 – My Soul on Fire (Part 2) (Christa Miller)
16 – My Cuz
17 – My Chief Concern (Zach Braff)
18 – My Finale (Part 1)
19 – My Finale (Part 2)
The show has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is only above average for the show with none of the images having much pop or surprising dimensionality or revealing much in the way of significant detail. Contrast seems to be a little light over the course of the episodes. Color values are solid if unexceptional, but the transfers are all clean and artifact free. Each episode has been divided into 4 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track doesn’t get much of a workout from this mostly very verbal comedy series. What surround envelopment there is is due completely to the music which does have a nice spread in the fronts and rears though it is only used for punch lines and for occasional background to the more emotional scenes. Dialogue is well recorded and is frimly placed in the center channel.
There are sixteen audio commentaries, all of which feature creator/executive producer (and occasional director) Bill Lawrence along with one or more people of the cast or production staff (see above episode listing for the other participants in the commentaries). I didn’t listen to every one, but of the ten I did listen to, the ones to avoid are the two with Lawrence’s wife Christa Miller who has very little to say and so her husband also talks much less than on other tracks. The ones with Sarah Chalke and Donald Faison are good natured and fun, and new cast members Sonal Shah and Eliza Coupe seem pleased to be asked to participate and chat agreeably.
Disc one contains the one Blu-ray exclusive, a 2 ¾-minute montage of Dr. Cox’s unending string of insulting girls’ names he used to refer to J.D. during the show’s eight year run. It’s called “It’s All in the Name.”
Disc two has the majority of the bonus features.
“My Bahamas Trip” details the on-location work necessary to film the two episode wedding of the Janitor and Lady from the seven hour flight to Abacos in the Bahamas to behind-the-scenes antics of the cast and crew, most of whom looked on the excursion as more of a holiday than a work trip. This lasts for 20 ¼ minutes in 1080p.
There are fifteen deleted scenes which can be watched separately or in one 11 ¾-minute grouping. The clips begin with the place in the episode where the cut occurred followed by the cut footage.
There are seventeen alternate lines sequences which can be watched singly or in one 14 ¾-minute bunch. Again, the clips begin with the televised footage and then show the variations to the lines that were altered.
There are 3 ¼ minutes of bloopers.
The disc offers twelve webisodes which were featured on the ABC website and which starred four of the season’s new interns interacting among themselves and with several selected cast members (Donald Faison, Robert Maschio, Sarah Chalke, among others).
There are trailers for Lost and Extract.
The discs are enhanced with SeasonPlay which tracks the viewer’s advancement through the episodes from disc one to disc two. It works splendidly with the episodes, always returning you to where you left off, but the enhancement doesn’t work with the bonus featurettes.
Inside the case is a $10 rebate certificate for those who already purchased Scrubs – Season 8 on regular DVD and who want to upgrade to this high definition version.
3.5/5 (not an average)
Scrubs’ patented mix of silly and serious has its fans and its detractors. This Blu-ray set of season eight, released months after the DVD edition of the season, offers up the same episodes and extras with even a little exclusive bonus content thrown in. Fans will likely enjoy the shows in sharper clarity and widescreen. For others, the benefits of the Blu-ray will undoubtedly be minor.