Scrubs is one of the best comedies on television right now. The show uses an interesting framing device to place the stories. The main protagonist, JD (John Dorian), lives inside his head, and narrates the events of the day, with the momentary lapse into fantasy. The characters combine to give the viewer a unique experience that is both comical and at times very striking.
The show has been well received. Thus far, Scrubs has run for seven seasons, and like many shows, it was initially released that Season 7 would be its last. Most popular television franchises run for at least 5 seasons, many making 7. Few venture beyond that, keeping the same cast and feel. 7 is almost the magic number for television.
A number of fans became outraged at the announcement last year, many forming online petitions. The cause of the ending wasn’t the ratings. They were still strong. The cast is beginning to move on to other things. Judy Reyes, who plays Nurse Carla Turk, intends to venture into films and Broadway. Zach Braff (JD) has broken into a few films already, and wants more. Even series creator Bill Lawrence has made plans to depart. Plus, NBC believed Scrubs was finished on its network. It was just time to end it.
But there was a Writer’s Strike earlier this year. That put off production on several shows, Scrubs included. In the midst of the negotiations, ABC stepped up and waved a flag toward NBC. ABC began negotiations to bring Scrubs to its network, one of NBC’s main rivals, for another year, and perhaps more.
After months of rumor and speculation, Zach Braff released on his blog that another 18 episodes of Scrubs following Season 7’s end were being filmed, but as of that time, he had no idea when they would air. On May 13, ABC announced that Scrubs would come to ABC as a mid-season replacement for the coming year. That means it won’t debut on ABC with all the premieres in September or October, but in January, in the middle of the season.
The news relieves fans who hated its departure, but the move to ABC is bringing changes. First, the show will throw back to the earlier seasons with a more realistic and dramatic tone, while still keeping its comedic outlook. New characters will appear, along with story arcs and the like. Second, although ABC wants to keep it going, Scrubs will have to have a new cast to do so.
Zach Braff has already announced his departure after Season 8. Judy Reyes, as stated above, is leaving as well. Bill Lawrence is likely jumping ship, too. ABC just couldn’t match NBC’s pay grade. New cast members will be appearing in Season 8 already. Courteney Cox has already released that she will appear as a new Chief of Medicine for three episodes, Dr. Maddox. But will a new cast carry the series beyond 2009? When a show gets a major face-lift like that, it doesn’t always work out. The Practice didn’t last long after Bobby Donnell left. Neither did Spin City after Michael J. Fox left the scene. Imagine having Ally McBeal without Ally for two seasons.
So we’re getting Scrubs back for one more season. Perhaps it should just be one more season. After that, with new cast members, it may not even feel like Scrubs. I’m excited it’s returning, but I’m also realistic. Scrubs had a great run, and it’s already produced episodes formulaic of a show that’s been on long enough. Shows that stay on the air long enough tend to follow the same trends: a full-on fantasy or fairy-tale themed episode, an all-cast all-episode parody of a major movie (like Wizard of Oz or something), and of course the musical episode. Scrubs has done all of these, as has other major hits like That 70’s Show, and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer. These are signs that a show has arrived, but may not have much left. We need to be careful stretching a good thing until it breaks.
One more season of Scrubs. Yes! But after that, let’s handle with caution.