The Hollywood Reporter published another article raising questions that have circulated for weeks, is Scrubs back to film its final episodes for NBC, or are they actually working on Season 8 for ABC? Back on February 29th, they reported that NBC and ABC were in a struggle for the show, and by what was revealed in the most recent article, it’s still going on.
I’m personally rooting for ABC on this one. Scrubs was supposed to end this season and go out the way that creator Bill Lawrence envisioned when he convinced NBC to give the show one more season last year. The writer’s strike ruined that planned and well deserved ending and NBC instead opted to cut the episode order down from eighteen to twelve. Considering eleven episodes had been filmed before the strike, that left only one episode to shoot and wrap up the entire series. The producers decided to film more episodes without an order from NBC, and likely send those straight to DVD. Then ABC came along.
I’ll admit, Scrubs is an acquired taste. The jokes aren’t in your face all the time, and the humor is brought out through the witty dialogue, eccentricities of the characters, and a cast that gels together extremely well to deliver perfect timing. That’s a hard concept to sell to mass audiences. Just ask Arrested Development. Still, this show has done very well despite the circumstances. It’s managed to find an audience even though NBC constantly changing its timeslot, cut back season episode orders for the last two seasons, and premiered the show at odd points throughout the season. The viewers are that dedicated.
Scrubs has been successful in syndication, currently airing daily on Comedy Central as well as many local TV affiliates. It works because it manages to cleverly to balance the real life drama of a hospital, quirky hijinks from the staff, and meaningful dialogue between the characters all with perfect pacing that never makes an episode boring. These are serious doctors, and they’ve also formed deep friendships, they rely on each other to get through the hard parts, but find there’s always time for play. Amongst all the absurdity (the JD daydreams, the bets, the constant provoking by the Janitor, the standoffs between Drs. Cox and Kelso, Dr. Cox and his ex-wife, Dr. Cox and Elliott… okay Dr. Cox and everyone ), the staff face situations that audiences can relate to. Eventually reality does set in, and sometimes it’s not pretty. It’s not supposed to be. The themes and emotions are more real with Scrubs than many dramas today, and that’s what makes this show extraordinary. We laugh and cry along with the characters even though we’re watching a comedy.
I have been a fan of Scrubs ever since it premiered, and never have been impressed with NBC’s treatment of it. Their unwillingness to give this show a respectful ending was not surprising. The consistent six to seven million viewers each episode meant Scrubs was never a breakout hit for the network, and as often happens with ‘underperforming’ shows like this, the network tossed it around, never finding the show its rightful place in the line-up. Granted, the show could have been cancelled many times before now, especially after the last two seasons, but that doesn’t excuse NBC’s quick dismissal as it’s winding down.
Scrubs would be an ideal fit for ABC. ABC studios produces the show (thus making financial sense), and bringing in a veteran with a known set of loyal viewers could help support other comedies that the network would like to get started. Scrubs isn’t compatible with NBC’s current Thursday night comedies (it’s always the lowest rated), so an appearance in another lineup wouldn’t be that traumatic. Considering how often NBC moved the show around, Scrubs should be used to delivering in an unproven timeslot and lineup by now.
I was ready to say goodbye this season, even though I didn’t see the show losing steam. The characters were facing new challenges that still intrigued me (we still have yet to see how JD will fare as a father, as well as how Turk and Carla do as parents), and the creative ideas are still fresh. This show still manages to capitalize on every strength that this very talented ensemble offers, including every one of the minor supporting characters. I hope that if Scrubs is given new life on ABC, it’s allowed the creative license that has so dominated this show throughout its history.
A good show deserves network loyalty. I remember when ABC so cruelly let The Drew Carey Show flounder at its end, despite the many good years it previously delivered for the network. That snub though ended up being a blessing in disguise. The network took no interest in creative direction, so during the final season the talented cast and crew got to do whatever they wanted. The results were unusual, fun and entertaining, and even though the final episodes were slammed against summer reruns without any promotion or fanfare, I was there until the end, watching them go out with a bang.
I’d like to feel the same way when Scrubs goes out. I want to see it end on its own terms and leave us loyal viewers with many cherished memories for years to come. Here’s to hoping ABC comes along and if anything, finally gives Scrubs the network respect it’s earned.