Review: SCRUBS Season 9

scrubs season 9
By: Aleks Chan

At this year’s Television Critics Association soirée, SCRUBS creator Bill Lawrence was refreshingly frank in his interviews about what led to SCRUBS – which after being abused on NBC for seven seasons, moved to ABC last year for a supposed final season of mediocre ratings – being brought back for a ninth season, revamped, recasted, and relocated. Though he stands to make very little off this season, he’s doing it for his team: “It would be really cool for everybody to keep working because there aren’t a lot of jobs out there.”

He also told The Newark Star-Ledger’s Alan Sepinwall the following disclaimer about SCRUBS 2.0:

“The one thing I’ve said to everybody, and it’s a quote I’m living by: It very well may suck. But don’t say it sucks until you see it. And my pledge is that if it sucks, it’s not going to suck in a fizzly way. It’s going to suck in a giant, ‘Oh my god’ kind of way, because we’re really swinging for the fences and trying to do some big stuff.”

Tonight’s premiere does little swinging at nonexistent fences, but is hardly worth acknowledging as self-sabotage. Really, this is more like SCRUBS 1.5: a half-realized spin-off that’s been lumped together to satiate the tempers of the SCRUBS stronghold who contend that last May’s finale was the best stopping point for series. It’s new, but not really!

This season, Sacred Heart Hospital has been torn down and rebuilt on the Winston University medical school campus, where focus has been shifted to a new class of students. It’s been a year since the finale, and J.D. (Zach Braff, who has signed on for a few episodes to “smooth” the transition to a new female lead) has returned to teach, as has his best friend and man-crush Turk (Donald Faison) and his mentor/verbal vivisection impresario Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley. Faison and McGinley are the only two regulars signed on to continue with the show, but others promise to make appearances.

Our attention is then directed to the new cast, who are introduced rather broadly: Lucy (Kerry Bishé) is the new primary protagonist (she will also take over narration duties from J.D. in the coming weeks), doe-eyed and naïve, Drew (Michael Mosley) is slightly older (so easily annoyed) than the rest of class, having bombed med school previously, and Cole (Dave Franco) is a smarmy, surfer-tongued brute taking advantage of his family’s deep pockets (which financed the school and hospital’s building). Eliza Coupe returns after being upped to a series regular from a recurring role last season as Denise, a sourpuss tough girl with a secretly soft heart and is an adviser to the students.

The opening half-hour strains to get the ball rolling, clumsily setting up a premise that seems a little cheap: Lawrence has implied that the docs were always teaching classes while also administering to their patients all along and that the show never focused on it. It’s as if the show picked everything up and moved to the office down the hall. And though it seems to have been the intention all along to keep the same location, starting over would have been more sensible, and it wouldn’t feel like the show was constructing extensions out of thin air to introduce characters that barely resonate.

And though I will admit to having intermittently loved and loathed the show over its run, I agree with weary SCRUBS fans that the finale was a comfortable resting place for the series. But I do not see this new season as a betrayal, but rather an unfortunate unwillingness to let the ride come to an end. It plays heavily from the SCRUBS playbook, replete with fantastical flashbacks, slightly over-the-head pop culture references, and heartfelt, message-y montages. But instead of springing forward with a renewed energy, this SCRUBS feels tired – even Dr. Cox’s usually brilliantly scathing staccato takedowns sound winded.

Perhaps by the time J.D. departs (Braff is only committed to six episodes), this new SCRUBS will have fleshed out its new cast beyond their casting descriptions and maybe even settled into a format that better suits it than rehashing the SCRUBS of old. There’s some hope – J.D. opines: “Part of me hates how familiar this seems. I hope I can find a way to make this all feel new.” Me too. Grade: C+

Related: You Be the Critic: Share your thoughts on the SCRUBS season premiere here.

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  • bws

    It’s hard for me to grasp why Scrubs has to go on but Bill Lawrence’s explanation that “actors need jobs!” is either the best or worst I’ve ever heard. I can’t really decide. Scrubs has brought me a a lot of joy and laughs over the years. And I’ll watch this with an open mind but I was so happy with the finale last year that I’ll undoubtedly be disappointing. It seems most reviewers have been a little kinder than our fearless leader regarding the first two episodes. This could very well take a few weeks to get used to. This is probably as good a time as any to start since a lot of other shows are wrapping up fall finales to take 3 months off.

  • This doesn’t surprise me. Just the implication of it discredits the previous seasons in many ways.

  • Dana

    It is not about the actors needing jobs; it’s about the hundreds of other people who work on the show. Bill Lawrence always said that he wanted to go when Zach did but he didn’t want to put all those people out of work in a bad economy. I think that’s commendable. He gave an ending last season to those who won’t watch and he is trying to revamp the show. He is doing it for those people who might not find jobs as easily with less hours of scripted television on the air.

  • bws

    Dana, you’re right. It’s all the other people that it takes to create a show. The writers, set designers, props, makeup, etc. I’ll check this out as soon as I can. It’s been moved to after midnight for me tonight because of our mayoral debate. Thanks to my DVR, it’ll be recorded while I’m soundly sleeping.

  • TVFan

    Even though this review pretty much reaffirmed my belief that this new class wasn’t needed, I’d still rather watch Scrubs than many of the comedies currently on the air. Cough *accidentally on purpose*cough*cough*

  • Chayes

    Before you can start to take credibility as a critic, you should get your facts straight. You got most of the new cast’s names and character names switched and just plain wrong. In fact, there’s a flat out grammatical errors everywhere here. Little journalistic integrity goes a long way, pal.
    Also, for the record I thought it was pretty good. The second half/second episode was classic Scrubs, but it felt fresh with new characters. I wasn’t nuts about Cole or Lucy at first, but they had mostly won me over by the end of the hour.

  • @Chayes You’re right! Major mix-up with the new cast members names and characters. It should read:

    Lucy (Kerry Bishé)
    Drew (Michael Mosley)
    Cole (Dave Franco)

  • idk

    i cant imagine what the show will be like without the relationship between jd and turk. for me that was always the funniest part of the show. it will be missed:(

  • Great review! I thought it was a really objective and appreciate your honesety. I probably won’t’ be watching the new season.

  • mike

    I thought it was really good even though it copied the old show a little bit it didnt tottally crash and burn and you can tell that the first few episodes are going to be a little bit annoying but i think when the show takes of after 5 or 6 episodes it will be different but still have the same feel everbody loves.

  • Pepe

    I Totally agree with idk, the JD and Turk relationship will be missed as its goofiness is part of the reason why i love scrubs, HOWEVER i will not miss the dying need for JD to get that hug from Dr Cox i think after 8 seaons that has played its part. in the finale cox said how he felt about his friend and ii think that role has been overplayed, anyways! i loved the new characters, Denise is awesum and i reckon this could be a hit! yet again!

  • Beb

    They should of just ended it at season 8 would of been the best thing to do…

  • Chris

    I agree with Beb. I’m watching this with an open mind – and yes. It is still funny. However, the season 8 finale was one of the best series finales that I’ve seen. It was a dignified end to the show.

    In my opinion, if they were dead set on bringing Scrubs back, they should NOT have brought JD back. He was a great character, but the season 8 finale wrapped up his story. This season kind of cheapens that.

    I think that they should have kept the show as it was, albeit without JD. They should have had a revolving cast, with each episode having a ‘His Story / Her Story’ format – Each episode revolving around and being narrated by a different main character each week.

  • Hmm, maybe, Scrubs season 9 is like windows 7. If you believe the vista hype you’d never buy another microsoft OS, if you give it a chance, you’ll see it isn’t half bad at all…

  • Roy

    i was sad when season 8 ended and was wishing for another season. idk, i dont like the new characters and for sure the JD- TURK relationship will be missed. ill say dr. cox-jd as well but ill agree with BEB on this one too. ending it after season 8 would have been the best thing to do. i watched the first 3 episodes and im just not getting the laughs that i used to get watching scrubs. i am very dissapointed. i dont feel like watching it anymore. ill give it a couple more episodes or 3 then i’ll see if i would still wanna continue watching scrubs. just hoping for the best.

  • Tom

    As somebody who watched and loved all eight seasons, I wasn’t disapointed at all, in fact I think the show will benefit hugely from this shake-up. And it doesn’t bother me that it hasn’t been left on a ‘conclusive’ note because life isn’t like that; things don’t just end by magic, people carry on living and having new experiences. I hope it carries on for a long time to come.

  • stella

    didnn like da new scrubs wish we can c more of jd n elliot turk n karla

  • BJ

    My feelings for the show are complicated.

    I would feel better about the show if it was considered a true spin-off (thanks ABC for not letting this happen). I’m an admitted Scrubs junkie (I own every season that’s out on DVD, and they’re almost the only thing I watch) and I thought the finale of season 8 was THE perfect series finale.

    That being said, I like the show right now, and from the interview I saw with Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff, it makes sense that JD is back (the interview stated that JD’s new hospital required him to get some teaching experience, thus he’s back at Sacred Heart. I don’t think the show itself has actually addressed this.) for a little bit.

    It cheapens the other eight seasons to keep calling it Scrubs as if it’s the same as the other seasons, when it’s obviously different. And because it IS different, it’s a disservice to the episodes we’ve seen thus far to keep it as part of the original series.

  • Ryan

    BJ, Its actually called SCRUBS [Med School]
    So its not technically got the same name.

    However i still found the show funny as the last 8 series.
    & The sneaky way there making J.D Slowly drify out in each episode so far (admittedly i have only seen 3)
    Saying that he will bne missed when he leaves, also dissapointed no Janitor so far. 🙁

  • BJ

    I understand what the opening credits say, Ryan. But ABC is just calling it Scrubs and advertising it at the 9th season.

  • Bradley

    Why have they turned Zach Braffs character into such a pussy. they made him dumber and really such a homo that it pains me to even watch it.

  • Stian

    Bradley, they didn’t turn JD into a “pussy” and a “homo”. If you’ve watched the other seasons you would have noticed that the moments where he is not a “pussy” are very few. Thats the whole damn point, and him being a pussy and kind of a homo iis what make up most of his jokes, and what make him so likeable.

    Yeah, and I really enjoy the show so far. I’m still waiting for the moment where it really shines, but it is still as funny and charming as before, and I think the new characters are great. I like Lucy. I want more of the Austrailian chick though, I love her accent. And she is totally hot of course. I would say that they shouldn’t bring The Janitor back since JD is leaving, but hell, I want more of Dr. Jan Itor! I also miss the halls of old Sacred Heart, but I guess we will get familiar with the new settings after a while. Bring me the next episode already!

  • Ryan

    One of the things I loved about the first few seasons of Scrubs was the actual reality of interning at a hospital and how “fresh” and real it made the character JD seem because he was so overwhelmed by it all. On the contrary, these characters do not seem real because this “med school” as Dr. Cox describes, is a sham. Not to mention it is way over the top just like all the other bs medical shows on tv. I loved the show and the finale was just about perfect. I almost felt my emotions of the finale betrayed when I heard this season was being made. All in all though, I do hope this eventually turns out ok.

  • PublicFrenemyNumber1

    I think the fans of the original show as well as those who are unfamiliar with it should look at this new show as just that; a NEW show. If you’re like me, you may not have warmed up to the characters on the original show right away. It takes a little bit of time for that to happen if it happens at all…and at least it’s not another garbage reality show or another insufferable sitcom pulled out of a dispenser complete with a laugh track, crappy acting and dialog laced with the sexual innuendo of a 5th grader (Two & A Half Men, Accidentally On Purpose, Gary Unmarried). Not picking on CBS…I’m just using them to illustrate my point. To be honest, though…I don’t really see this show lasting more than a couple seasons. I hope I’m wrong.

  • AdamThe Fan

    I’ve been a huge fan of Scrubs from the beginning. It took me a little while (and a few re-watches on Hulu) to really get used to this new season, but to be honest, I like it. I know it’s not as fresh as the original, but it still has that lovably awkward feel to the characters. I do wish they’d just promote it as a spin-off, because I’m worried that attaching the name “Scrubs” to it will only doom it to expectations that are higher than it can reach just yet.

    I hope it doesn’t get canceled after one season. Even if it’s not as good as the original Scrubs it’s still better than 95% of what’s out there.

  • Brandon

    Honestly, I really like the new season. It did take me some time to get used to Cole in particular, but I think his presence in the hospital is doing what it’s supposed to do, which seems to be make waves for the attendings. I only wish that they’d made him appear a little bit more intelligent, so that him actually completing four years of undergraduate school and four years of med school was more plausible.
    As for the other new characters, their introduction seems smooth and fitting to me. Lucy and Drew definitely fit in with the rest of the characters at Sacred Heart.
    It should be noted that this opinion is based on my viewing of Seasons 1-8 on DVD over the last few weeks before beginning to watch the new episodes in Season 9. So, obviously, I didn’t spend the last eight years watching the show. My experience was concentrated, and I just don’t want it to end yet.
    I am also bummed about Braff’s departure from the show. J.D. is right up there with Doctor Cox, Turk, and Carla on my favorite characters list.
    All in all, I think this show is a masterpiece. Sure, it has it’s flaws. But sometimes the flaws of a thing will serve to accentuate the beauty of the rest of it. I think that scrubs has accomplished this feat spectacularly.

  • JMW

    I think they should have ended with season 8. I was sad and didn’t want it to end, but season 9 kind of kills it for me. I love scrubs hardcore, and it was perfect the way it was. The Season 8 finale wrapped up JD’s story perfectly, he was leaving the hospital, him and eliott were moving in together….then all of the sudden in season 9 he never left, they got married, and she’s pregnant?….they just didn’t transition very well. The show is still entertaining most definitely. It just isn’t scrubs anymore. We’ll see how the rest of the season without JD pans out.

  • Season 9 is a gem! The writing is still fresh and smart, the new actors have added dimension, depth and new directions in which to go. At the same time, the original cast members are tremendous fun to watch within the new dynamics created by Bill Lawrence. Frankly, I thought this season would suck. I have been very surprised by the writing, the comedic timing of the cast, and the plot developments. Bill Lawrence said they were swinging for the fences as they reinvent the show–well, it is a home run for me.

    John R. Bruning

  • David

    Scrubs without JD wont work, it wont have his Bromance with Turk and it wont have him always begging for Dr. Cox’s love.

    Taking away characters such as JD, Elliot and Karla cant be done as they are apart of the main group that has always been scrubs.

    Characters such as the Janitor, The Todd and Ted would be greatly missed if they were taken away, but the show could go on.

    I just think Scrubs isn’t Scrubs without JD’s daydreams and man love with Turk, I really wish they could of kept on making the original scrubs with all the cast members, instead of this silly spin off about a bunch of interns that no one cares about .


  • Andrew

    I’m not sure if David has given season 9 a chance or not, but I am another long time Scrubs fan who really likes this new version of Scrubs. Anyone who expects it to have the same feel as season 8 may be a bit disappointed. However, those fans should watch an episode from season 8, and then one from season 3 or 4, and then one from season 1. They each have a very different feel. Scrubs is an extremely dynamic show and is carried by its large, ensemble cast. It is able to be extremely enjoyable, even without JD.

  • tony

    i’ve watched the first 3 and my initial thoughts are,

    no it’s not as good without all the usual characters ,but i’ll still give it a go as i love scrubs

  • For any of you bashing this new season, please go enjoy a nice, tasty beverage of: shut your pie hole and get over yourself. mmmmkay? good. episode 2 couldn’t have been anymore “classic” scrubs. it’s not the best idea for hashing out a new season, but the actors playing these roles are amazing. You can’t ask for a better cast, and Dr. Cox’s rants are still flat out awesome. It’s been eight seasons guys, he’s bound to repeat himself sooner or later.

  • Jake

    I have been a Scrubs fanatic since day 1. Am I sad that some if the original cast isnt there, am I going to miss Jan-i -tor messing with JD, of course I am . But when it comes down to it, I am fan through and through. This last episode is when I really statred to like Cole, or Cole train, I really think that that this is a fresh new cast with some abslute favorites with Turk and Cox, with camoe’s from the Todd. I really do like the new class, however, I would love to see Rowdey in a future episode… Bill if you are reading this, can you make that happen!!!!!

  • adam

    seen every scrubs ep in order and when i first watched this and it is awful, a few ep was ok but i think its awfull

  • Sherry

    I HATE the new season!! I’ve watched every episode of Scrubs so far, but the new season is NOT funny, at all !! well, exept those a few seconds of interaction/dynamic between the original cast, other than that DULL as it can be. I keep watching hoping it’ll pick up or something, not sure why I put myself through this! 🙁
    But who though this super dull girl, Lucy, is going to be able to replace JD?!
    I’m so disappointed!:( they should have left the show go out with a bang rather than like many other crap shows carrying on just for the sake of carrying on. They could have been remembered as one of the greatest shows! shame!:(

  • Brian

    This is TV, not art. Want ‘JD’ to live forever then just don’t watch the show.
    What is unfortunate is that the show just isn’t funny. JD really was just ‘one of those characters’ that can’t be duplicated (Turk in there too).
    So the Lucy thing is a little overdone. Unfortunately, while the ‘lessons’ are new to the new characters, viewers have seen it all before (and why didn’t JD know how to do ANYTHING on his first day whereas all these kids are working with patients).
    Anyway, all I care about a show is that it is funny. Lucy is barely a caricature, and in reality the surfer guy wouldn’t have anything to do with her after banging her, but thats just ‘too much of a life lesson’.
    I have no idea how the show could be done differently, but I don’t think the big changes were necessary, its just too much change for so few jokes. The security guards are obviousy taking over for the janitor, and doing it very badly. The new ‘cast’ are generally unlikeable, and all look like models, not med students. A lot of bad decisions about characters seems to have been made, but again, who cares as long as its funny. So far it hasn’t been.

  • minxamo

    I didnt realise that season 8 was the final season when i watched it, so when i found out i was devastated. Naturally, this meant that when i heard that there was a season 9 i was exremely happy and hopeful… sadly it really didnt live up to my expectations.
    The “new” cast are not true characters, but instead badly constructed copies of the old characters. e.g the new protagonist is meant to stand in as a JD-ish character, but it really doesn’t work, i just find her annoying. “Mahoney” is meant to be similar to Dr. Cox as far as i can tell, but again she doesn’t live up to the role.
    Season 8 finished the series perfectly, and while i longed for a new series at the time, it should have ended there, with the future left open.

    and come on!? scrubs without the janitor??? seriously??

  • minxamo

    and just to clarify, i have so far watched 8 episodes, so its not like i’m jumping to conclusions, its just not fun to watch.

  • J the M

    Everyone who likes the new scrubs is cheating on JD. Ik ffing hate the new kids.

  • jess

    It took some time but i like the new season and the new cast, all i can say is give it a chance.

  • scrubs

    season 9 isa differnt show altogether it has refreces to past characters but it also has new plot lines places and people. After zac braff leaves im sure it will seem alot lot less like its tryig to hold on to the past and more like it is expandig to the futer…..

  • JD4Turk

    I have watched the first few episodes, i wasn’t too impressed at the start, but now im really enjoying it. The one part that has got me down is Zach leaving, his and turks realtionship made the show, i’ll watch on though 😀

  • Kez

    I have watched 12 episodes of season 9 and honestly every episode ive finished watching i think ‘ok that wasnt bad, but i think the season finale of season 8 was where i would like to say it really finished’ I wont be buying the season 9 DVDs for that matter… But i think good on them for trying, but taking huge leaps does guarentee some falls every once in a while.. Like Jerry seinfeld said.. they got offered alot of money to do more seasons, to see how high they could get. but to see how high you get you have to start coming down… quit while your barely ahead guys! but Kudos to the 8 seasons.. well done!!

  • Jannes

    Loved the season 8 finally, after the bad season 7 stuff because of the writers strike… But absolutely hate the new season. I have been watching scrubs from the beginning. I live in the netherlands and although no one else gets it i'v always loved the show. When i watch the season nine episodes i'm only thinking to myself what are they doing to my baby? to a show with brilliant humor, and brilliant drama like the show where perry's best friend dies and we see the funeral.. Now the show is so lame you can't even call it scrubs, somewhere i read that they wanted to change te name for season nine, i wish they did! Can't help but think about the southpark episode where kyle and his buddies cry because someone raped their friend, george lucas en spielberg raped indiana jones by making such a louzy sequel. I feel the same as those gues!

  • wouter

    i dont like the first episodes of season 9 it was too slow and i was super exicted cause i liked the rest (1 until 8) and elliot and carla i didnt see them at all
    so i did not like it

  • semar

    I think its too much for a new season and the main charecter seems i dont know…..annoying i mean i could remember the first episode of scrubs and how i loved it JD was a very convincing funny charecter dr cox was amaizing and of cource turk.
    But this one seems to be done without any spirit i mean really? sacred heart is now a med school and by coincidence dr cox, turk, JD are all proffessors there?!! and where the hell are all the other charecters, elliot, carla dont you tell me those werent main charecters…..

    As a show fan this season was a complete let down for me…..

  • disapoint

    i wish… i never saw season 9. it ruind it all.. i was totally happy with season 8 epic ending… F*CK!

  • JohnW

    “and why didn’t JD know how to do ANYTHING on his first day whereas all these kids are working with patients”Maybe because JD actually sucked a little and these don’t? There’s an easy mistake one can make as a viewer – assuming that JD is supposed to be the “generic protagonist stand-in” with exaggerated loser qualities and some funny quirks,He IS actually a bit of a weirdo, and there are other students and interns that are better than him, and don’t annoy Cox, either.

  • JohnW

    I must say I really liked how this season “subverted” the emotional season 8 finale. He’s like standing there with these euphoric visions about a happy, glorious future, but it’s not a finale for him – his life just goes on as before, as normal and “generic” as ever.

    Leaving Sacred Heart FELT like a “wrap-up” to him, but actually it was just a short moment of melancholy and euphoria, and a couple of days after, life went on as usual – and it’s pretty good!

    It’s like, you see the hero ride off into the sunset, but at some point the hero lies down for a snooze, and then the sun goes up again and it’s a day just like last day 😉

    Then the season just ends in the middle of some celebration, and I can’t decide whether it was a really lame ending (they thought they’d get to make more seasons after that), or actually a pretty good one – like, “yea, it goes on, whatever – the celebration ends, they go back to studying and more hilarity will ensue.”

    The new cast was really, really awesome – sure, Drew has a bit of Cox in him and Mahoney a bit of Jordan, but who cares? Jack Sparrow is Han Solo, and ever main Scrubs character can be compared to a Spongebob character, Cox is Squid, Kelso is Krabs etc. – point is, they come off as new and fresh as personalities, with their own personal traits that make them different, and that’s what it comes down to.

    The only kind of meh one was Lucy – partially wonderfully awkward (I loved that moment where she almost made Cox cry in embarassment), partially a bit forced and wooden.
    I particularly couldn’t care for her “girly” obsession with horses (a cliche and not done well), and any moment where she got pissed and grumpy at something – just didn’t work.

    Aside from that, no complaints – Ted and Kelso continue their character development, the other old characters are as good as ever, and it was just great.
    One might’ve thought Dr. Cox would’ve run out of breath, but they still find a way to make him as fresh as ever – his relationship to the original characters has somewhat changed (he treats JD with a bit more respect, for example), the added dynamic with Drew (let’s just say a slightly more hopeful case than JD was), etc. – they mostly hit all the right spots.

  • Watched 2 episodes of season 9 so far, and damn, it seems like they just picked the prettiest actors they could find. Scrubs is supposed to be a commedy show.