|Scrubs: Season Three (2003)
Starring: Zach Braff, John C. McGinley, Donald Faison, Sarah Chalke, Judy Reyes, Ken Jenkins, Neil Flynn, Robert Maschio, Sam Lloyd
Judging by its lofty status in the first and second editions of our TV Power Rankings, it's safe to say that "Scrubs" is a Bullz-Eye favorite. But not because it's funny and not because it's quirky, and not because it's poignant, intelligent and endearing. Instead, “Scrubs” is one of the best shows around because it’s all of those things, quite often all in one episode, qualities that set it apart from any other sitcom on TV today. And even if NBC stubbornly refuses to give this award-winning show its due props, banishing it to Tuesday nights instead of featuring it as part of Thursday’s so-called “Must See TV” lineup, “Scrubs” continues to win the hearts of fans and critics alike.
The show’s third season is another prime example of what makes “Scrubs” so compelling. Featuring 22 episodes, three of which are “Supersized” (26 minutes instead of the usual 21), this three-disc set finds the staff at Sacred Heart Hospital in a state of sweeping change. Turk (Donald Faison) and Carla (Judy Reyes) set a wedding date and begin planning for their future; Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley), who learned at the end of season two that he’s a father, now wonders if he has what it takes to be a dad; and, after being kicked around her entire life, Elliot (Sarah Chalke) sheds her pushover persona, gets a stunning makeover, and reconnects with her ex-boyfriend Sean (Scott Foley). As for J.D. (Zach Braff), he mourns the passing of an era now that his buddy’s getting married, briefly adopts a new mentor in Dr. Kevin Casey (guest star Michael J. Fox), and realizes that he’s still in love with Elliot. Or so he thinks, anyway. Once again rounding out the hospital staff are callous Chief of Medicine Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), perverted (and absolutely hilarious) surgeon “The Todd” (Robert Maschio), pathetic attorney Ted Buckland (Sam Lloyd), and The Janitor (Neil Flynn), who, along with eternal doormat Ted, takes on a more pronounced role in season three.
It’s tempting to claim that these episodes rank as some of the best in the show’s history, but that’d be selling “Scrubs” short. The truth is, every season is loaded with memorable episodes, and this one is no different. Elliot undergoes her dramatic transformation in the premiere, “My Own American Girl,” Cox tries to cope with his advancing age and J.D. learns that the Janitor had a bit role in “The Fugitive” (it’s true, look it up) in “My Friend the Doctor,” and Turk and Carla’s big day turns into a complete disaster in “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Then there’s perhaps the season’s finest episode, “My Screw Up,” which features an excellent guest appearance from Brendan Fraser. In fact, there are several notable guest stars in this third season; some in bit roles, like Sulu from “Star Trek,” Marcia Brady and the Soup Nazi, and some in more extended roles, like Fraser, Tara Reid and Tom Cavanaugh. Then there’s Michael J. Fox, whose two-episode run as Dr. Casey is easily one of this set’s highlights. “My Porcelain God” in particular is a must-see.
Fans of the show have been treated to a jackpot of quality extras with each DVD release, and the list this time around is just as extensive. Series creator Bill Lawrence, who also helmed “Spin City,” discusses the various directors who worked on season three in the “Twist and Shoot” featurette while taking a closer look at the season’s guest stars in “Long-Term Residents.” Elliot’s extreme makeover, meanwhile, is examined in “The New Elliot,” “Don’t Try This at Home” reveals the inside info on the show’s various stunts, and old reliables like deleted scenes, gag reels and audio commentaries (on just two episodes) round out the bonus features.
In my review of the season-one DVD set, I wrote, “what ultimately makes ‘Scrubs’ more than just your average disposable sitcom is its ability to crack you up one minute and break your heart the next.” Forgive me for recycling the line here, but I’m not sure there’s a better way to explain the show’s charm. It’s one of the few series on television that can so delicately handle issues of love, life and loss while also pulling off an “I.P. Freely” joke (“Funny in third grade, funny now,” says Janitor). “Scrubs” may not be atop NBC’s list, but fans of the show know better, and you can bet most of them cleared a space for this season-three set in their personal collections, right next to their first and second season DVDs.