At one point, Scrubs was the funniest show on TV. It had that perfect mix of drama, solid story-telling and bizarre, pop-reference humour that made it so accessible and watchable. It also had the solid ingredient of great cast playing fantastic characters.
Season 3 is the epitome of the Scrubs success formula. The show had two critically acclaimed seasons, it had a set formula and a great flow, so now could begin to play around with the solid characters and to introduce things that would help it live-on for another seven seasons.
Central to this season isn’t J.D and Elliot, which would seem the more obvious focal point, but actually Carla and Turk. This season sees them getting married and beginning to become a solid couple. It’s their story which has moved on the most in three seasons and which all the other characters draw parallels with. Dr Cox is back with his ex-wife while JD and Elliot both have new relationships which form the focus of their stories in this season.
All these stories are presented well and have some great funny moments. The cut-away gags are still the best aspect of the show and the way in which it can seamlessly tie-in pop-culture references with the more serious side of working in a hospital is still the shows success. It’s the more ambitious, guest-centered episodes that lift this season above the rest though.
The guest stars are fantastic, from returning characters such as Tom Cavanagh playing JD’s brother Dan or Brendan Fraser as Dr Cox’s friend Ben to new characters, such as the amazing Michael J Fox as a surgeon who has severe OCD. Even Tara Reid manages to demonstrate that she has some sort of acting talent before she become more famous for nightclubs and unfortunate photos.
It’s not just the cameos themselves but it’s the episodes that go with them. Recurring characters like Tara Reid aside, the guest actors that get one or maybe two episodes also get an emotional story that goes with it and demonstrates the ability that the show and its regular actors have to execute these episodes well. The Fraser episode has such a twist that you don’t see coming that you wonder if it can still be the same show that started out so crazy and fast-paced two seasons ago.
The third season also sees Scrubs become more self-aware. Background characters become more prominent and “third tier” characters like The Todd or Ted the Lawyer get more input and start to develop as characters in their own right. These are the characters that will actually prove to be the funniest when the show flags later on in its run.
It’s a bold statement to say a show is one of the funniest on tv but I defy people not to enjoy Scrubs season 3 and I believe they would struggle to find anything that closely matches it for both drama and laugh-out-loud comedy at the time this season aired. It dips in quality but you can see from this season alone why Zach Braff becomes a star that won’t seem to fade and why Donald Faison and John C McGinley will never be out of work if they want it.
Overall, Scrubs’ third season is one of the strongest and an example of why it became such a popular hit. It mixes comedy and drama effortlessly, has some great characters played by a very funny cast and utilises it’s guest stars brilliantly. Whats more, it sets the foundations for the characters it will rely on much more in the future.
Best Episode – My Catalyst; The episode that introduces Michael J Fox as the surgeon with severe OCD and a great over-arching story as well.
Best performance – Michael J Fox as Dr Kevin Casey
Should there have been another season? – Definitely! A solid comedy show with characters and stories you want to know more about.
Season Rating – 4
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)