After almost being cancelled several times on NBC, the network grim reaper finally caught up with the offbeat sitcom last May. But, as expected, ABC came to the rescue and took Scrubs over for season eight. Now, it looks like the doors of Sacred Heart will be closing for real this time… or will they?
Primarily seen through the eyes of intern-then-physician John “J.D.” Dorian (Zach Braff), Scrubs centers around a group of egocentric doctors and nurses. Joining him at the hospital are best friend Chris Turk (Donald Faison), driven Elliot Reid (Sarah Chalke), head nurse Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes), abrasive Doctor Perry Cox (John McGinley), chief of medicine Doctor Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins), and the hospital’s unnamed janitor (Neil Flynn). Others in the cast include Robert Maschio, Aloma Wright, Sam Lloyd, Christa Miller, Johnny Kastl, Travis Schuldt, Frank Encarnacao, Charles Chun, Mike Schwartz, and Michael Hobert.
Created by Bill Lawrence, the offbeat sitcom debuted on October 2, 2001 on NBC. The first season of Scrubs drew an average of 11.2 million viewers and the second season built on that success, averaging almost 16 million viewers. Viewership declined to 10.4 million for season three and dropped dramatically after that. Season four average just 6.9 million and seasons five, six and seven each averaged just 6.4 million. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that the sitcom has been on the chopping block several times over the years.
It didn’t help matters that NBC changed Scrubs’ timeslot many times throughout the show’s run. Because the show was produced by ABC’s in-house studio, there were also plenty of heated renewal negotiations. NBC finally gave up on the show last May and ABC picked it up for the 2008-09 season. Though the show’s ratings weren’t very good, Scrubs is very profitable for Disney/ABC in syndication. So, though season eight might not be very profitable in its network run, the company will more than make up for it in syndication profits.
When ABC picked up the series, it was made clear that Braff and Lawrence wouldn’t be sticking around past season eight. Reyes later indicated that she was done as well, planning to pursue film and stage work.
Earlier this month, Faison committed to a new sitcom pilot for ABC, costarring Cedric the Entertainer, called The Law.
This week, McGinley committed to a drama pilot for CBS, playing a reserve police officer. Back revolves around a character played by Skeet Ulrich (Jericho) who returns home after being reported missing during the September 11 attacks.
With poor ratings and its stars and creator planning to jump ship, it’s been widely assumed that season eight would be the end. In an interview in January, McGinley assumed that Scrubs was over.
He told AOL, “Billy is so smart in the TV landscape and he peppered the cast with these new interns, kind of taking care of the “just in case” scenario. If all of a sudden instead of six or seven million people a week watching Scrubs… if for some reason, all of a sudden 10 million people a week started watching Scrubs, then ABC would bring it back, but that’s not that realistic. The same six to seven million people have watched Scrubs for eight years. The demographic is young men — that’s the only reason we’ve been on — but those numbers don’t really make anybody stand up and dance. It’s just that young men from 18 to 35 watch the show and, for some reason for advertisers, that’s the most desired demographic. That’s the only reason we’ve been on for eight years.”
Well, apparently that demographic is still very important to ABC. Our friend Korbi is reporting that ABC’s president Steve McPherson just told Lawrence that like to bring Scrubs back for season nine. His only caveat is that he’d want Braff to make a handful of appearances.
If most of the main cast and Lawrence jumped ship, would you be interested in seeing a sitcom centered around the new interns and a few old-schoolers? What would it be called? Scrubs: The Next Generation?
If that doesn’t come to pass, Scrub’s last episode will be one of two installments airing on May 6th. Titled “My Finale,” the episode will revolved around J.D.’s exit from the hospital so that he can move closer to his son. Several guest stars will be on hand for the goodbye, including Tom Cavanagh (as J.D.’s brother, Dan) and others who’ve played patients of the young doctor’s.
Image courtesy ABC.