There are a lot of jokes in Hollywood about suits and their ability to kill a good idea (see: cute kid character added to bring about the demise of a once-good show). And there are a lot of stories about networks killing shows before they can find an audience (never mind that one week is insufficient time to build viewership). But there aren’t many stories about survival despite the odds.
Friends (you know who you are) have been recommending Scrubs for some time. While I’m admittedly, oh, five seasons behind, I’m thinking it’s time I gave this show a chance. My original hesitation was well-founded: when it debuted, NBC was in the throes of its “Must See TV” blitz; I found I didn’t wanna see anything they though I must. Naturally, I assumed Scrubs was of the same ilk, and had the network execs prevailed, it would have been.
Sometimes it’s good to be wrong. The next I push one of my three permitted buttons on the remote control, I’m going to add a Season Pass to Scrubs.
It turns out that this single-camera show without a laugh track has always been a little strange. I like that. And it turns out that sometime last season, Bill Lawrence, the creator and executive producer, gave up. He stopped audience-building and learned to love the show.
The result is that “Scrubs,” always a schizophrenic mix of cartoonish jokes, surrealist fantasy sequences and genuinely poignant life-or-death moments, has become even weirder, thick with inside jokes, psychotic monologues, a cappella singing in the elevator, bizarre secondary characters like the High-Fiving Surgeon, the Sweaty Lawyer and the Absent-Minded Morgue Attendant, and the continuing adventures of a megalomaniacal maintenance man who has crowned himself the King of Janitoria. There have been ravens and ostriches and a front deck built on a lot with no house. Pumpkins are raised as children. Alzheimer’s patients go on tackling binges. Also, and this can be the tricky part, people get cancer and die.
Also, increasing in popularity with viewers, thanks in no small part to embracing new media as well. This means I’ll be adding the show to my forthcoming NBC/new media case study.