When it premiered in 2001, Scrubs was a hilariously entertaining show. It had one of the best ensemble casts on television, a very unique sense of humor, and a great sense of storytelling. Over the years, the show has gradually declined into a mediocre mess of a show, trying to force sentiment it doesn’t earn and forcing laughs where there is no humor. A hospital can be a great location for serious and humorous storytelling, and through the prism of the hilariously fanciful J.D. (Zach Braff), the writers used to create a perfect balance. Unfortunately, the characters had to evolve and the writers weren’t able to keep up.
By the time the show entered the Seventh Season, the balance of the ensemble had been shattered. J.D. was having a child, his best friend Turk was married, his on-again/off-again love interest Elliot was working in private practice, etc. Scrubs was no longer about the interactions between the core group, but rather the individuals in that group and their specific storylines. A big theme of this season was growing up, and granted, characters have to change and storylines have to progress, but this particular show thrived on the dynamic that had already been created.
Making matters worse, this season was sabotaged by a combination of the infamous Writer’s Strike as well as an uncertainty as to the show’s end date. These struggles are felt in every episode. It’s obvious that the writers want closure but they don’t know how quickly to approach it. However, the biggest problem with this season is that it simply isn’t funny. At times, the humor can be downright grating. Scrubs helped pioneer the concept of the cutaway fantasy sequence, but for some reason, the creativity just wasn’t there this year. Particularly painful is the Season Finale. An homage to The Princess Bride as well as Monty Python, it completely misses the mark from beginning to end.
Because of the Writer’s Strike, only 11 episodes were produced this season. The DVD contains all 11 of these episodes, and some pretty unnecessary extras. There is a montage of people goofing off in an elevator (why?), and a completely pointless interview with Ken Jenkins, who plays Chief of Medicine Bob Kelso. There are also the standard bloopers, deleted scenes, etc. The biggest extra is a very bland behind-the-scenes look at the Season Finale.
Thankfully, the show has been given another chance with an eight season. They are moving from NBC to ABC, and hopefully this transition will inspire a new level of creativity that has been long missing. At least we will be given the closure the writers so desperately want to provide. Here’s hoping that they remember to be funny while they are doing it.