We’ve known for some time that the seventh season of Scrubs would be the sitcom’s last. Though it will be sad to say goodbye to the staff at Sacred Heart, it’s good to know that the cast and crew will be able to say goodbye on their own terms. Now, because of the writers strike, the sitcom’s chance at going out on its own terms is in jeopardy.
Scrubs debuted back on October 2, 2001 on NBC. Though the sitcom about J.D. (Zach Braff) and the rest of his crazy cronies has never been a big hit in the ratings, it has managed to stay on the air for six seasons and 139 episodes. It looked like the show might end last season but was given a reprieve and was renewed for an 18 episode seventh season.
With the writers strike going on in full force and most series’ production shutting down, it’s now looking like the sitcom’s season may be cut short and fans may not get a Scrubs series finale after all.
Despite his devotion to the show, Scrubs creator and executive producer Bill Lawrence says that’s not foremost in his mind right now. He shared, “On a personal level, yeah, it would be nice to finish work on Scrubs the way I wanted to. That it looks like it’s not happening is certainly disappointing, I can’t lie. But it’s also not the end of the world. The last thing anybody wants to hear right now is some idiot saying, ‘Hey, I worked really hard on my show, I want to end it the way I want to end it!’ It’s hard to care right now about any legacy.”
Lawrence points out that he’s not worried about himself in the strike but is concerned about his crew and writing staff. He says, “I’ve kind of won the lottery in having a few shows that went to syndication in both Scrubs and Spin City, so anything I say about my own sacrifice would drip with selfishness. This is such a bigger deal for the guys who work below the line and largely live hand-to-mouth and the younger writers who can’t go without a paycheck for very long. I’m just a lucky SOB, no matter what happens to my show from here.”
Lawrence says that he was asked by Disney/ABC TV Studios to write backup ending scenes that would have enabled the studio to film finale scenes in case the strike goes on for very long. He didn’t want to write a forced ending for the series so instead opted to finish two regular episode scripts. One of those scripts went into production last week though the strike didn’t make filming very easy.
While Lawrence took to the picket line at Disney, Scrubs filming went on as scheduled at the old North Hollywood Medical Center. At one point, exterior filming was disrupted by picketers and some of the production team thought Lawrence had tipped them off about the schedule. He quickly drove to the location and tried to make the peace. Though contractually obligated to keep filming, many of the Scrubs castmembers remain supportive of the strike. During their breaks, several of the actors have joined the show’s writers on the picket line.
Production on one episode was completed last week and another is expected to be finished this week. This will leave Scrubs with only 12 episodes of the season finished. If the strike goes on for very long, the actors’ contracts will expire and it’s likely that the other six episodes will never be produced.
Lawrence does however say that he will do his best to write a proper ending for Scrubs once the strike is settled. He’ll also work with ABC Studios (who produces the series) to get it shown. He says, “I will use all my leverage to end this show properly, even if it means I have to do all the voices myself and call people up to read it over the phone.” Will it come to that? Stay tuned!