Friday, 14 June 2013

Scrubs Review

One of my main presents from Mr Click at Christmas was the complete box set of all nine series of Scrubs on DVD. I had no idea that I was getting this. I’d been dropping hints for ER and Friends (the latter of which was also one of my main presents) but hadn’t mentioned wanting Scrubs (although I really did). It was such a surprise to unwrap the gift and find Zach Braff’s face staring back at me.

I watched the first few series right from the start. I’d heard about it online and read the advert in the TV guide and thought it seemed right up my street. I remember the night of the first episode we were out at someone else’s house and people wouldn’t stop talking so we could leave. I kept looking at the clock thinking ‘it’s starting in twenty minutes, it’s starting in ten minutes’ and worrying that we wouldn’t be back in time for it. We were, by just a couple of minutes!

It follows three new doctors as they start out their careers at Sacred Heart Hospital; JD and Elliot who work on the Medical ward and Turk, who is a surgeon. It’s a really quirky sort of series, told from JD’s perspective, about the patients and people he encounters in the hospital. JD narrates most of the episodes, though there are a few where he passes the narration on to another character, and occasionally it breaks for a little fantasy where JD imagines what would happen in certain scenarios. The ninth series is sort of a spin-off with new characters, though some of the old ones hang around too; the narration is largely handed over to the ‘new JD’, a med-student named Lucy.

In the past my brother and I used to watch odd episodes of Scrubs but Mr Click could never really get into them. I was really surprised when he suggested we watch Scrubs in bed at night when we’d finished with the Charles Dickens set. He ended up really getting into it; the problem he’d had before was that by just watching random episodes he didn’t get how the series was set up (with the different characters and the fantasy moments).

I’d previously owned the first two series on DVD so I’d watched all those as well as seeing most of the episodes up to about series four on TV (though not necessarily in the right order). So once we got into series five and beyond there was a lot that was new to me. I liked the way that it followed the progression of the doctors through the series as they went from interns, to residents, to chief residents.

The series has a fantastic cast of characters. You can’t talk about Scrubs without mentioning the Janitor. He’s scary and funny and I love that watching the special features you can see just how much of his character was Neil Flynn just improvising and playing around with things. I love Sarah Chalke as Elliot as well; she’s ditzy and crazy and one of my friends at school used to call me Elliot at times so I guess I can kind of relate to her.

As the narrator JD is wonderfully human. The opening credits end with ‘I’m no Superman’ and JD isn’t. Sometimes he’s a downright jerk. He’s always trying his best for his patients but sometimes he wants to do what’s best for himself too. I love the way that he narrates the episodes; after a while of watching them in quick succession the way that we did (sometimes three or four episodes in a night) you can’t help but find yourself narrating moments of your day in a similar style. He’s loveably geeky too, plus he looks like Zach Braff which is always a bonus.

The series itself has a brilliant balance of laugh out loud comedy and moments of surprising pathos. I remember back when I first watched it there was an episode where Elliot was feeling really overwhelmed and at the end one of the nurses brings her a drink as JD’s voiceover says something along the lines of ‘sometimes you realise that where you are is where you’ve belonged all along’ and that really got to me at the time. There are episodes with patients facing death (and their doctor’s having to face it alongside them) and there are moments when characters have to make big life-altering decisions. It’s a very clever show that can go from one emotion to another so smoothly.

I have too many favourite episodes to list them all here. The very first one is right up there, as is the last episode of series eight (I honestly wanted to cry). There’s one where Dr Cox is telling his son a fantasy bedtime story featuring all the people from the hospital and there’s a fantastic musical episode with a woman who has a condition that makes her think that everyone is singing. Plus dozens and dozens of others.

The eighth series was supposed to be the last so everything gets pretty much wrapped up. So the ninth series is more like a spin-off series. I enjoyed it more when I thought of it that way as opposed to Scrubs: The Ninth Series. It basically moves the action to a new hospital and JD is only in it for about half the episodes as Lucy takes over as the new starring character. Pretty much everyone comes back for at least one episode, with the exception of the nurses. Because it’s not the original Scrubs it was a little harder to get into, but it finds it's stride around the middle of the series and I got really into that too. It’s different but in a good way.

I actually think I would’ve enjoyed it more if they hadn’t made such an effort to have all the old regulars come back for a visit. It was good to see JD and Elliot but I think it might have been a smoother transition if they’d gotten them out of the way closer to the beginning. It’s a shame that they didn’t take it any further because I think Scrubs: Med School might have found its feet in a second series and would’ve filled the regular Scrubs gap nicely.

It’s a really good box set (although some of the DVD cases are a little bit flimsy and the bits that hold the discs in snap so they don’t hold them secure any more). We made a point of watching all of the bloopers as we went along as well as some of the alternate lines (which shows you the actors improvising their lines, the best of which was then used in the episode). I’ve watched most of the special features from series one and two in the past, but I’m really looking forward to watching some of the later special features. I’m planning on watching the episode commentaries at some point but that could take a while because some series have a commentary on every episode. Not that I’m going to complain about rewatching Scrubs again, it’s a firm favourite in our house now and one I’m sure we’ll revisit again.

Now our night-time viewing is The Sweeney which I’m actually rather enjoying. It’s surprising how well it’s aged (with the exception of the clothes, hair and cars). We’re onto the second series already so expect a review of that soon.


  1. I love Scrubs, I got into it when my brother started watching it a few years ago, and devoured all of the episodes in a matter of weeks. I haven't watched it in a while, though.

    1. You'll have to have a rewatch. I have a funny feeling ours will be rewatched again in the future. ;-)

  2. My son loved Scrubs. I might have to give it a try.

    1. You really should. My husband really wasn't a fan at first, but by the the end of the first series I think he was more into it than I was!


Let me know what you think. :-)