MSRP: $29.99
RUNNING TIME: 390 minutes
•  “Scrubbing In” – featurette showing how the series has changed
•  Deleted Scenes
•  Bloopers
•  Live From the Golf Cart

The Pitch

Scrubs: The New Class

The Humans

Starring: Zach Braff, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, Judy Reyes, John C. McGinley

The Nutshell

J.D. (Braff) returns as a professor at Winston University to mentor a new crop of med students along with his best friend, Turk (Faison), and his own reluctant mentor, Dr. Cox (McGinley).  But he’s not the focus of this series, handing the reins over to the new cast of characters led by Lucy, Drew, and Cole, so that he can focus on being a soon-to-be dad with Eliot (Chalke).  Lessons are learned.  Lives are changed — some are lost. 

Scrubs made me.  I made The Shins.  Bow to me, hipster friends.

The Lowdown

Calling this the ninth season of Scrubs is a bit of a misnomer.  Given that it focuses on a completely new main character after the previous eight were led by the fantastical imagination of Zach Braff’s John Dorian, this is less a culmination of the series (despite being the final season) and more re-boot using some of the old cast — not unlike Saved By The Bell: The New Class.  Based on that similarity, you can imagine that Scrubs‘ last hurrah leaves much to be desired.

I used to be a big fan of the show.  Its ability to go seamlessly from punchy one-liners to truly emotional, heartfelt moments — sometimes with characters we only see once in that particular episode — set it apart from being just another sitcom.  We’re not talking ER-level drama here, of course, but just enough to give you a little dose of reality.  Despite the total goofiness had between J.D and best friend/surgeon Turk, the rivalry with Janitor, the love connections with Carla and Eliot, and, of course, the mentoring/terrorizing by Dr. Cox, every now and then when you least expected it, they would throw in something that grounded the show and made you realize that, at the end of the day, these might be immature twenty-somethings, but they’re also doctors who deal with life and death situations all day long. The balance that writer/creator Bill Lawrence achieved – along with his stable of writers over the years – kept me coming back for more for years.

(It helped, too, that it was a single-camera show — not one of the increasingly archaic three-cam ilk — giving it a more cinematic feel that it needed to pull off the constant visual gags that added to the emotional depth.)

It wasn’t long before Franco was using the whole “I cut off my own arm” schtick to pick up ladies – as if he needed more help.

For Season Nine, the formula remains much the same, just substitute out some of the familiar faces for noobs with Scrubs regulars Donald Faison and John C. McGinley anchoring the 13 episodes as professors at the fictitious Winston University.  Much of the same scenarios happen that we’ve seen before only this time the characters we’ve followed for nearly a decade are the ones giving the advice instead of receiving it.

Never would’ve guessed how much I’d miss the old cast until seeing the new, utterly-forgettable-at-best-and-totally-annoying-at-worst lineup — the worst of which is the replacement for J.D.: the horse-obsessed, child-like, Lucy.  I suppose the same problems I have with her could be the same as for those who couldn’t stand Braff’s main character from before — annoying, flighty, utterly unconvincing as a doctor-in-training.  But where I found J.D. likable because of his naivete and innate dorkiness, I can’t stand Lucy despite having those same qualities.  And when that’s the person through whom we see much of the show play out, that’s a problem.

Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t part of one of his daydreams.

And that brings up another issue.  Lucy may have taken over the reins as the lead character in theory, but in practice, the show is all over the place.  Braff shows up in the first handful of episodes to pass the baton so he takes the focus with he and Turk doing their usual mancrush antics.  And then he’s just gone.  At which point Eliot shows up randomly – pregnant with J.D.’s baby – to mentor Lucy.  And then she’s gone.  We’ve got Turk and Cox being their usual selves and they have some minor arcs.  Then there’s Drew – the old guy trying med school for the second time – and Cole, the legacy enrollment who coasts through on his smarm and the fact that he’s James Franco’s little brother.  The original series was able to juggle the characters and their storylines — season nine can’t.

All that said, I didn’t hate sitting through the 300+ minutes of the show.  It had its moment and when Braff is around, it works best.  The usual rhythms flow naturally with J.D. maneuvering with the new crew.  And even if there are no stakes for him anymore and he’s now an equal with Dr. Cox, I like that he still has those same issues of inferiority and needing acceptance from his mentor.  It feels familiar and comfortable, exactly what you come to expect when you turn on Scrubs from any season. 

Damn, I really should’ve gone to med school.

It seems fairly clear that this season came about as more of an afterthought.  The show was canceled by NBC, prompting ABC to pick it up for the eighth season with the understanding that it’d be the last one for most of the cast.  They even aired a web series called Scrubs: Interns to slowly introduce the faces that we’d come to see in Season 9 and I bet if this season had done better, they would’ve kept it going as a sort of non-spinoff-spinoff, like maybe following the lead of ER by recycling the cast with new doctors and nurses as the years went on.  Alas, that just wasn’t to be.

While Scrubs was a comedic, half-hour take on the medical genre, at its heart it was a platonic buddy love story between two best friends, J.D. and Turk.  Without that relationship, Season 9 lost its heart, leaving it as a mildly entertaining diversion without the depth and resonance that made it a successful show for much of the last decade.

This scene also doubled for his audition tape for Skyline.

The Package

Not great.  How anything can be released on DVD in a 4:3 aspect ratio these days is beyond me — those are usually saved for the grocery counter checkout line.  I get that it’s television, but that would’ve been a good excuse ten years ago, not for a DVD set hitting the market in 2010.  Clearly they didn’t care too much about the series by this point.  Still, pretty weak considering the show did have quite a few fans.  There are also some bonus features including deleted scenes and bloopers — for those die-hard fans, these will be entertaining.  But nothing too exciting here.

5.5 out of 10

If you’ve never seen the show, this pretty much sums up half of every episode.