The sitcom may be flatlining, but as long as there are fresh and original series like Scrubs
, the prognosis isn't entirely negative. Created by Bill Lawrence, Scrubs
is an interns'-eye view of hospital life and the torturous, tragic, and triumphant route to becoming a doctor. The eminently likeable Zach Braff heads the cast as "newbie" J.D., whose years of medical school haven't quite prepared him for chaotic Sacred Heart Hospital. Family Guy
has nothing on the live-action Scrubs
when it comes to surreal asides and fantasy sequences (for example, J.D. literally becomes the proverbial deer in the headlights when he cannot answer a medical query), pop culture references, and TV Land casting (John Ritter guest stars as J.D.'s negligent father in "My Old Man," and St. Elsewhere veterans William Daniels, Ed Begley, Jr., Stephen Furst, and Eric Laneuville appear as Legionnaire's-stricken doctors in "My Sacrifical Clam"). With surgical precision, this inaugural season charts J.D.'s growth as a doctor and a human being, and the close-knit bonds he forms with his equally overwhelmed peers and colleagues, including best friend and surgeon Chris Turk (Donald Faison), beautiful, but raw-nerved and by-the-book Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke), and supportive nurse Carla Espinoza (Judy Reyes'), who affectionately nicknames J.D. "Bambi." But at the heart of the series is J.D.'s relationship with his mentor, Dr. Cox (an Emmy-worthy John C. McGinley), a cross between Obi-Wan Kenobi and a pit bull. Giving Scrubs
a further shot of adrenaline are recurring characters Jordan (Christa Miller Lawrence), Dr. Cox's satanic ex-wife, and Neil Flynn as the Janitor, who torments J.D. just as Larry Miller menaced Jerry in the Seinfeld episode "The Doorman."
Scrubs' animated sensibility allows for inexplicable cameos by Jimmie Walker or, at one point, an impromptu West Side Story-esque dance-off to convey the schism between the surgeons and other doctors. But while hilariously funny, Scrubs can break your heart too, as in the two-parter "My Occurrence"/"My Hero," with guest star Brendan Fraser as Jordan's spontaneously spirited brother, who is diagnosed with leukemia, and "My Old Lady," in which J.D., Elliot, and Chris experience for the first time losing a patient. Whether you're a "newbie" or devoted viewer, this DVD release is just what the doctor ordered. --Donald Liebenson, Amazon.com