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'Scrubs: The Complete Fourth Season'

It's a wee bit ironic, but due to NBC's actively antagonistic scheduling ["Hey, wouldn't it be great if we aired three episodes one night, then two on a Saturday afternoon and then half of another episode during the commercial breaks in 'Las Vegas'?"] the best way to watch "Scrubs" has never been during its not-so-regularly scheduled weekly episodes, but rather on DVD.

Predictably, even the "Scrubs" DVDs are a bit out of synch. "Scrubs: The Complete Fourth Season" is now out, which will confuse viewers who caught what was the fifth season of "Scrubs" on NBC this spring. The network has yet to determine how to botch airing season six next year at some point.

The fourth season began in the aftermath of Turk (Donald Faison) and Carla's (Judy Reyes) wedding and much of the season involves that couple's adjustments to marital bliss. Also having to make life changes are Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley, whose lack of even a single Emmy nomination is a low down dirty shame) and Jordan (Christa Miller), who are discovering that parenting doesn't come easy. The center of the show is still Zach Braff's J.D., who finds himself battling with ex-flame Elliot (Sarah Chalke) for the title of chief resident. The "Scrubs" team still finds plenty of time for the diabolical scheming of The Janitor (Neil Flynn) and Dr. Kelso's (Ken Jenkins) general misanthropy, plus a heart-felt (if somewhat belated) tribute to former guest star John Ritter in the episode "My Cake."

That episode featured the return of Tom Cavanagh as J.D.'s brother, one of the season's slew of high-profile cameos, guest appearances that have often brought out the best in unexpected actors, including Tara Reid, Julianna Margulies and Matthew Perry, who directed his father John Bennett Perry in the "My Unicorn" episode. It's the rare actor -- Colin Farrell, for example, in the disappointing "My Lucky Charm" -- who doesn't look better in this environment. A case in point would be Heather Graham, whose funny and sexy turn as Dr. Molly Clock looked so effortlessly winning that it probably led directly to the one-and-done horror that was "Emily's Reasons Why Not."

Even when "Scrubs" struggles, they're the mistakes of a show trying too hard to push boundaries, rather than from a show willing to be complacent. Take "My Life in Four Cameras," in which a run-in with an ailing sitcom writer causes J.D. to imagine his life as a traditional multi-camera comedy, complete with laughtrack and annoying star cameo from Clay Aiken. In an effort to lampoon more convention (and less funny) shows, "Scrubs" became a more conventional (and less funny) show, but at least it aimed high. Ditto with "My Roommates," in which Dr. Cox comes to believe that his old college rival's toddler is autistic. The episode probably erred on the side of mawkishness, which didn't prevent McGinley from giving one of his very best performances.

Compactly contained in a three-disc set, the "Scrubs" season doesn't lack for extras. Chalke has a somewhat giddy commentary track on "Four Cameras" and Braff talks over the slightly frantic "My Last Chance," an episode that marked his directing debut for the series.

Some of the featurettes are a bit redundant, including the clip-heavy "The Sweethearts of Sacred Heart," which documents most of the season's key relationships, though the equally redundant "Will You Ever Be My Mentor?" gives welcome flashbacks to many of Dr. Cox's most vitriolic rants. Also welcome is the nod to an assortment of supporting actors -- including The Todd (Robert Maschio), Ted (Sam Lloyd) and Nurse Roberts (Aloma Wright) -- profiled as "The Weapons Chest," go-to sources of comedy for the writing staff.

Flynn's Janitor gets solo treatment in "Who Is That Man?," which charts the character's evolution from bit player to full-blown nemesis, including the early theory that he was merely a figment of J.D.'s imagination. Father? Ghost? Convict? Frustrated actor? Few answers are provided.

Bonus laughs come courtesy of at least a dozen deleted and extended scenes and several more minutes of alternate takes.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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