DVD Review: Scrubs-Season 9

As far as I’m concerned, Scrubs finished a very successful run with Season 8.  It had what I would consider to be one of the best sitcom finales in recent memory, and ended the series in a brilliant way.  It was funny, emotional, and provided a perfect sense of closure.   In fact, the ending was so perfect that I had no desire to see any more of these characters or their world.  And based on Season 8’s finale, nobody involved in the show did either.  And yet, out of the blue, the show got a renewal.

So, for whatever reason, a decision was made to bring Scrubs back.  How would they do that?  None of the characters had anywhere else to go.  The producers decided that the only way to bring the show back would be to introduce a new group of characters and feature the original cast in a peripheral capacity.  It became apparent after the first episode that the new cast was not going to live up to their predecessors.  At best, they were simply not funny.  And at worst, they were gratingly obnoxious.

Not only did we get a new cast of characters, but a new location as well.  Season 9 takes place at a medical school.  Whereas the show always took place at a teaching hospital, this new setting is more like an actual campus.  And of course, the new students are taking courses tought by the original cast.  I’m sure hilarity was supposed to ensue, but it really never did.

What made Scrubs so successful was the ensemble.  Every character was unique and played off of each other in a hilarious way.  While they were often cartoonish and over-the-top, the chemistry always felt real.  They weren’t always realistic, but they were still people.  The new cast feels like a collection of “types.”  I guess the lead would be Lucy, a young and naive student who is obviously supposed to parallel JD in Season 1.  However, she comes across as completely unlikeable from her very first scene.  She tries so hard to be lovable that it becomes cloying.

She hooks up with Cole, the “bad boy” of the school.  Supposedly, his parents put a lot of money into the school, giving him free reign.  The difference between him and Lucy is that he’s supposed to be unlikeable.  Mission accommplished.  He has this smug smirk that drove me crazy, and his character arc throughout the season is completely unbelievable.

The rest of the season focuses on Drew and his relationship problems with Denise, one of the interns introduced in Season 8.  Neither of them are compelling by themselves, and they’re an especially dull couple.  In one of the DVD extras, creator Bill Lawrence describes this season best by calling it “Scrubs Anatomy.”  The humor took a backseat to everybody “hooking up.”

I just don’t understand the point of this season.  There wsa no way that this new cast was going to improve on the material that had come before.  The whole thing just felt desperate.  The returning characters are obviously phoning in their scenes.  Nobody seems inspired or energized by the changes.  Even the cutaways, always memorable highlights in the past, are obvious and pointless.

Unfortunately, the extras on the DVD are as bad as the season itself.  The first feature is called “Scrubbing In,” and is a six minute look at the transition to the new cast.  Featuring interviews with the original cast, Bill Lawrence, and some of the new kids, this feature is almost depressing in how unexcited everybody seems to be about everything.  This feature makes it even more apparent that this season exists as a mandate by the studio rather than any sort of creative inspiration.  Other features include the requisite deleted scenes, some completely generic bloopers and a horrible feature called “Live From the Golf Cart.”  This is a two minute segment featuring the incredibly obnoxious security guard characters from the season.  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen characters less funny than those two.    

I hate to see a show go out with a whimper like this.  It’s especially hard in this case, considering how strong the finale was the year before.  It’s telling that the back of the box emphasizes that you have to buy this set to “complete your Scrubs collection,” selling to completists rather than focusing on the material itself.  I watched every episode of this season, and I can honestly say that I didn’t laugh once.  There is no reason to own this set, even for completists sake.  As I said at the top, the show ended for me in it’s eigth year.  After I’ve finished writing this, I have no reason to acknowledge this season ever again.

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