Welcome back for another instalment of Scrubs - one of the most successful US TV comedies of recent years. Already passed its fourth season in the US, this review covers the new release of the second series box-set. I would imagine that no one will be buying series 2 with no knowledge of what this series is about, but as this doesn't strictly matter for you to enjoy the show I'll recap for those people.
Scrubs (the name given to the doctor's work clothes) is a sit-com set in a training hospital. The first season followed some new interns as they began their medical careers under the watchful eye of the senior Doctor, Dr.Cox (John C.McGinley). The three main interns are J.D. (Zach Braff), Turk (Donald Faison) and Elliot (Sarah Chalke). This series follows on from season 1 with pretty much more of the same, albeit all of the interns are now one year more senior. The show has a winning formula that sits somewhere between Friends and Ally McBeal. There is a broad range of humour, from slapstick through to surreal fantasy moments (ala McBeal). This humour is counterbalanced by some moral tales with genuine emotion - usually relayed through the narrated voice of J.D. as the central character. There is a great dynamic between the cast, not only between the main characters but also throughout the supporting cast and the numerous guest cast members who appear in this season.
Braff continues to be excellent as J.D., having that magical quality of self-deprecating humour, comedy timing and emotional range. He doesn't quite steal the show because the ensemble cast are all just as good, but he does set the tone for the mood of the show - making you laugh with him and at him at the same time. Turk provides an excellent foil to J.D.'s idiosyncrasies - you really do believe that these two are old friends and this is backed up by some excellent flashbacks and fantasy scenes. Donald Faison also has a knack for comedy - although Braff has already had some Hollywood success, it would be a shame if Faison also didn't go further. Elliot (Sarah Chalke) provides the “love” interest, although as fans will know her on-off relationship with J.D. is only a small part of each season. Both characters end up having numerous relationships with other characters but keep coming back to each other - usually for highly passionate brief intervals. They are best friends but seem unable to keep a romantic relationship going with each other. Chalke is a revelation in this show - often providing more funny moments than the other cast members. She also has fantastic comedy timing and does really well to juggle between the serious role of a doctor and the neurotic, ditzy blonde - her versatility is one of her strong points - being able to switch between her normal role and numerous costume changes and fantasy scenes. She's come a long way since Roseanne and again I hope she gets the chance to prove herself on the big screen.
The quality throughout the cast doesn't stop there - there are almost too many others to mention but obviously one of the main stars of the show is Dr.Cox. John C.McGinley plays the acerbic, jaded doctor so well - his put downs and one-liners come so thick and fast there are more laughs here than in entire episodes of some other shows. Dr.Kelso is also fantastic as the chief surgeon - he despises the hospital, his staff and most of all the patients as they all cost him money but you can at least respect him as he makes no secret of this! Both Cox and Kelso are characters that you like to dislike, but the master-stroke of this show is that even though this show seems very light-hearted and frothy, there is actually depth to all the characters - even Cox and Kelso show their human sides every so often and these episodes help one to understand what it is like working under the stresses and strains that they do and how they all become like a family even though they don't always show it.
There are plenty of other characters providing depth to the cast - from the downcast Ted, the psychopathic Janitor and Carla the love interest for Turk. There's Todd the sex-mad surgeon, Laverne the no-nonsense reception nurse and numerous others throughout the various shows. Each season there are some great guest appearances and this season features a few - notably Heather Locklear - still looking as desirable as ever. This is one of the best comedies on TV at the moment and it deserves to do well.