I review a whole season rather than individual episodes, so there is a chance of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the whole season yet, stop reading now!
Season 4 sees Scrubs at the height of it’s “power.” The first three seasons were a critical and commercial success and enough people know about the series that it begins to attract more and more guest stars that make the show a draw for the audience, as well as the stars that want to be part of the hospital sitcom.
This season is also the beginning of Scrubs trying new things. They are developing more and more of the support characters, with Ted the Lawyer and Dr Cox’s ex-wife Jordan becoming a larger part of the core cast. That isn’t to the detriment of the already decent cast who still play their parts very ably and manage to make for some very funny moments, playing on the quirks that they have managed to build over four seasons.
That is the beginning of the first problem for Scrubs though. Often, with episodes that feel like filler, the series is offering little that is new. Episodes always follow the same standard formula and you can guess how some stories will resolve themselves just because you’ve seen the show many times before. Dr Cox is still teaching JD lessons, Elliott is beginning to grow as a doctor but constantly needs those around her and random relationship problems are thrown at Turk and Carla, including a quite silly one involving JD towards the end of the season. The show doesn’t feel like it is running out of steam, just that it is happy cruising.
That’s not to say there aren’t some notable successes from Scrubs fourth season. The guest stars, like in its third run, bring a fresh flavour to the show. Heather Graham as Dr Clock is a genius addition and gets a decent story run for her character. There are also good episodes for Matthew Perry, Julianna Margulias and a sorely under-used Colin Farrell. The real winner is Tom Cavanagh who returns as Dan, JD’s brother, and gets the best episode of the season, which deals with the death of their father.
After four seasons, the show also begins to take chances. One notable episode takes the format of a traditional sitcom, filmed in-front of a live audience, which is done very well, mixing the silliness of traditional sitcoms with the drama that Scrubs can do very ably. It’s an example of the sort of episodes that Scrubs can produce when it needs to, its just a shame that after four season, it feel like we’re seeing the same characters, going through the same issues, with some (relatively) new jokes.
Overall, Scrubs is beginning to lack the drive and innovative style that made it so successful for the first three seasons. It is still very watchable and extremely funny in places but a lot of the episodes are formulaic and feel interchangeable with what we have seen before. The guest stars and odd, “special” episode demonstrate what the show can do when it pushes itself.
Best Episode – My Cake: A well-acted, well-written episode that perfectly mixes both comedy and drama.
Best performance - Tom Cavanagh as Dan
Should there have been another season? – This season demonstrated the potential the show had to keep going but needs an injection of something new to keep it fresh.
Season Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)