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Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season
DVD Released on 8/25/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 8/26/2009
Those of you who are regular visitors to this site (and I hope that you all are) should by now know that the reviews follow a specific pattern. I give a synopsis of the movie/show, discuss why I didn't like it, critique the Blu-ray Disc or DVD itself, and then give an overview of the extra features. However, with this review for Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season, I'm changing that order and diving right into the technical portion, because it deserves the most attention.
Seasons 1-7 of Scrubs were broadcast on NBC and the show was broadcast in a 4 x 3 aspect ratio. The subsequent DVD releases mirrored that formatting in their transfers. However, when the show moved to ABC for its eighth season, the show was now broadcast in a 16 x 9 aspect ratio over digital channels/cable. It was great to see Scrubs widescreen. But, then the Season 8 DVD arrives and we find that the episodes are presented in a 1.33:1 format? What? Why broadcast the show widescreen and then not give us that option for home video? Is any footage lost in this smaller frame? I honestly don't know, but if it can be framed widescreen, it should always be shown that way. Not only is the show not framed accurately, as far as I'm concerned, the image is dark and somewhat grainy. This isn't a pilot we are watching here -- this is an established series and it shouldn't look like this. On the positive side, the colors do look pretty good. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, and work very well when someone makes a comment from off-screen. The surround sound and subwoofer effects are fairly subdued here, but we do get some nice bass from the in-show music. Perhaps when this season is released on Blu-ray Disc the framing will be accurate.
Now, onto the regular discussion...
Again, Scrubs had a home on NBC for seven years, but the network decided to cancel the show. The series was produced by ABC Studios, so they brought it over to their network. Fans were unsure of this move and there was concern that the series would change. The truth is that there were some changes, but they didn't turn Scrubs into anything different.
The end of Season 7 of Scrubs saw Sacred Heart Hospital and its employees going through some changes. Dr. Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins) was forced to retire and now the hospital has no Chief of Medicine. A new chief, Dr. Taylor Maddox (Courteney Cox), is brought in, but the staff soon learns that she is corrupt and send her on her way. Despite his protests, Dr. Perry Cox (John C. McGinley) is named the new Chief of Medicine. Meanwhile, J.D. (Zach Braff) and Elliot (Sarah Chalke) have decided to rekindle their on-again/off-again romance and they are disappointed to learn that at this point, no one cares. Turk (Donald Faison) and Carla (Judy Reyes) learn that they are going to have a second child, and Turk wonders how this will effect their lives. Meanwhile, a new crop of interns has invaded the hospital, and J.D., Elliot, and Dr. Cox must do everything in their power to impart wisdom on these youngsters.
As you can see, there were many changes to the storyline in Season 8 of Scrubs. I didn't even discuss the fact that two of the oddest characters on the show found love and suddenly had relationship sub-plots. But there were also some important changes in the overall dynamics of the show as well. The first is that this was to be Zach Braff's last full season on the show. I don't think that I'm giving anything away by saying that, as this was announced by ABC well in advance of the premiere. Thus, the last few episodes deal with how he will "leave". (Rumors have been circulating that if a Season 9 does materialize, Braff will make some appearances.) While there have been interns in past seasons, they have never gotten the screen-time devoted to the new doctors on this season. Given this notion, plus the fact that the group starred in a series of webisodes (which are included on this DVD), one can make the assumption that they are being positioned to be major characters if the show returns. Finally, is it just me, or was The Janitor (Neil Flynn) on the show a lot more in Season 8? While he's always been a prominent figure in the hospital, he seemed to be everywhere in this season. And it seemed as if Flynn was given more license to make up his dialogue.
Going into Season 8, Bill Lawrence and his staff weren't sure of the longevity of the show, and they clearly threw caution to the wind. While Scrubs has always been an odd show, the level of absurdity is pretty high here, and if you don't believe that, simply listen to anything that The Janitor says. But, the changes didn't really make Scrubs much different overall. The show is still funny and also has the ability to take the wind out of your sails with the serious medical stories.
The Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season DVD set features three discs which contain all 19 episodes from Season 8. The set contains several extras. Every episode on Discs 1 & 2 contain an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Creator Bill Lawrence and an assortment of cast and crew members. On Disc 3, the only episode with a commentary is "My Chief Concern". "My Bahamas Vacation" (20 minutes) gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the two-part episodes which takes place in the Bahamas. We essentially get to see what a great time the cast and crew are having -- even though they are working -- and we learn about the island. The DVD contains DELETED SCENES, 15 in all, from 12 episodes. We also get six ALTERNATE LINES, which come from four different episodes. The DVD has a 3-minute BLOOPER reel. "Scrubs Interns" features six webisodes which star the new interns from this season. Each one runs 3-4 minutes.
On November 17, 2009, ABC Studios brought Scrubs: The Complete Eighth Season to Blu-ray Disc. While this seems like a great idea, it may cause a fuss with those who went ahead and bought the DVD. Why? Because the episodes on the Blu-ray are widescreen. Why do widescreen here and not on the DVD? I don't know the answer to this, but it's good that we finally get these shows in widescreen. However, the ABC "bug" isn't on the screen in the first episode, so that joke still doesn't work on video. The episodes are letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only slight grain and no defects from the source material. However, the image is a tad dark in some scenes. Despite this, the colors are nice and natural. the level of detail is good and the depth is fairly good for a sitcom. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and nicely detailed. The subwoofer effects are good, but sparse. The surround sound effects are weak, only appearing during musical cues.
The only new extra here is "It's All in the Name", which is a 3-minute
montage of all of the girl's names which Dr. Cox has called J.D. Just imagine,
some poor editor had to put this together.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long