I’ve always been a fan of “Scrubs.” Sure, like any show with eight seasons under its belt, it’s had its ups and downs, but you could always count on the medical sitcom for laughs and well-defined characters. “Scrubs” was also never afraid to veer into dramatic territory, and when it did, it handled the storylines with incredible skill. In fact, some of the best episodes are those that dealt with the sad realities of life and death in a hospital, like Dr. Cox’s breakdown after a bad organ transplant.
Now, the show is mixing things up. After seven seasons and a lot of bad treatment by NBC, ABC picked up the show for an eighth (and presumably final) season last year, so creator Bill Lawrence could finish the show on his terms. (The seventh was planned to be the last, but was interrupted by the WGA strike.) ABC was pleased enough with last year’s ratings, though, to renew the show for another season of 13 episodes.
Many fans did not react positively. They feared the show would be outstaying its welcome, especially since last season finished with what appeared to be a series finale — and about as perfect a finale as one could imagine. Lawrence defended the renewal, though, because it means most of the “Scrubs” crew will keep their jobs, and because the new season will really be more of a new series. He told the NJ Star Ledger:
“It is a new show,” he insists, though he was unable to convince ABC boss Steve McPherson to change the title to “Scrubs Med.”
“Scrubs” 2.0 will now be set at med school instead of Sacred Heart hospital, but,
“What we’re implying is that the hospital is still moving forward and existing, and you’ll never notice it,” he says. “Turk will be in most of the stories, and then one day, very casually, he’ll run into his wife at a nurse’s station, and it’ll be as if she’s been working there the whole time.”
The change in setting will also bring changes in the cast. Donald Faison (Turk) and John C. McGinley (Dr. Cox) will be the only returning series regulars, now acting as med school professors, and Eliza Coupe (intern Denise, or “Jo” to J.D.) has been bumped up to regular status. Otherwise, former cast members Zach Braff (J.D.), Sarah Chalke (Elliot), Judy Reyes (Carla), Neil Flynn (Janitor), and Ken Jenkins (Dr. Kelso) will only be seen as guest stars or not at all.
Lawrence knows audience expectations are not high, but he cautions:
“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.”
If Lawrence’s new show “Cougar Town” proves anything, it’s that he still knows his comedy. Yes, the cast shake-ups will be jarring, but maybe new characters and a new setting are just what the show needs to rejuvenate it and attract more viewers.
I’ll certainly be watching (and not just because I’ll be reviewing it for the Daily next week). Will you?
UPDATE: Here is the link to my official review in the Daily. I thought it was pretty good — still funny, but weird to not have everyone there. I’ll keep watching, though.
-Ben Phelps (Daily Editorial Board)