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Scrubs is a medical sitcom/drama created by Bill Lawrence, who previously created Spin City. The series premiered on October 4, 2001 on NBC and chronicles the lives of several medical interns at the fictional teaching hospital Sacred Heart Hospital as they move up the ranks, along with their friends and colleagues. Originally told from the perspective of Dr. John "JD" Dorian (Zach Braff), the series was notable for using surreal fantasy sequences and slapstick while still being grounded within serious medical drama moments.
The series was a notable victim of the 2007 Writers Guild of America Strike, in that what was to be its last season was cut short and NBC decided against renewing it for an eighth season. It was picked up by ABC, who had produced the series first under Touchstone Television and later under ABC Studios, shortly after the seventh season finale. The series was rebranded Scrubs: Med School for season nine and replaced Dorian's voice over with a new medical student.
Premise & Style
The first season began with Dorian and Christopher Turk starting as interns in different sections of the hospital (medical and surgical, respectively) and gradually working their way up the ranks. Each season roughly represents a year spent working in the hospital. A typical Scrubs episode contains several sub-plots linked together by Dorian's voice over. The majority of "A" plots deal with Dorian, Turk or Elliott Reid (who started at Sacred Heart with Dorian and Turk), the series is an ensemble comedy and incorporates other doctors, nurses, interns and staff into the story. Most notable of these supporting doctors are Dr. Perry Cox (J.D.'s unwilling mentor), Dr. Robert Kelso (the chief of medicine), Carla Espinosa (Turk's wife and part of the nursing staff) and the ubiquitous Janitor, who spends most of his time tormenting J.D.
The series is an oddity on several fronts, most notably its single-camera format, lack of a laugh track and heavy use of narration from a character in the actual episode (as opposed to the Narrator of Arrested Development or "Future Kevin" in The Wonder Years). Because of the setup of the program, it is filmed in an abandoned hospital located in Sherman Oaks, CA to keep with realism. But because the hospital is real and is easy to find from the 101 Freeway, it has led to an occasional real patient looking for medical help stumbling on set.
The first seven seasons of Scrubs was broadcast on NBC, although it was produced by production studios owned by ABC and was, therefore, completely owned by ABC. Creator and show runner Bill Lawrence once commented that "the show is a dinosaur, on one network and completely owned by another." As a result, when a syndication deal was reached on September 18, 2006, the money recouped isn't seen by NBC.
For the majority of the series, each episode was filmed in 4:3 standard definition on Super16 film. The only notable exceptions in the first seven seasons were My Transition, which was shot in high definition as a test. The series is shot in a single-camera format that gradually became brighter over time, peaking in season six when the fantasy sequences reached an all-time high. The season four episode My Life in Four Cameras also showed the series as a traditional sitcom, complete with bright lights, a multi-camera set-up and canned laughter. Ironically, the episode won an Emmy Award in 2005 for Outstanding Multi-Camera Picture Editing.
The fifth season of the series began as a midseason replacement on January 3, 2006 after being delayed due to My Name is Earl becoming a breakout hit. In the 2006-2007 Upfronts, it was announced that Scrubs would be returning for a sixth season, but would, again, be a midseason replacement. Despite the initial uncertainty of cast and crew, particularly Bill Lawrence and Zach Braff, the series was officially renewed for its seventh and, then, final season on NBC on May 14, 2007.
Although the series was meant to head towards a finale in the 2007–2008 season, television programs were disrupted for a period of four months during the writers strike. In the case of Scrubs, only 12 of the 18 ordered episodes were completed before the set was shut down. There was talk at NBC about scrapping the remaining episodes as a cost-cutting manner, including what would have been the series finale. Lawrence rejected this idea and assured fans that if he had to, he would record himself explaining the ending of the series and upload it to YouTube to give them closure.
The series was picked up by ABC for its eighth season after NBC did not renew it. ABC Studios had produced the series since its first season and expressed interest in continuing the series after the writers strike caused the series to go without closure in what was supposed to be its final season. It premiered in high definition on its new network in January 2009 and was met with positive acclaim from fans and critics, who saw many of the financial cuts (ending some of the more elaborate fantasy scenes which had slowly crept into the main series and bringing conversations down to 2 or 3 people talking, as opposed to larger groups) as a turn towards the show's origin.
Before the ninth season renewal, Zach Braff and Judy Reyes both publicly stated that they planned to leave the series after season eight, regardless of if was to be renewed. Despite this, Braff and Sarah Chalke both signed six-episode commitments to ease the series into its new status quo. Ken Jenkins also agreed to make guest appearances during the season, with the only billed cast members not returning being Neil Flynn and Reyes. Flynn had been cast as a co-star in The Middle and only appears briefly during the first episode of the season. For the ninth season, the setting has shifted primarily to medical school, with Cox and Turk as teachers and four new cast members mainly playing students.
|Season One||October 2, 2001||May 21, 2002||24|
|Season Two||September 26, 2002||April 17, 2003||22|
|Season Three||October 2, 2003||May 4, 2004||22|
|Season Four||August 31, 2004||May 10, 2005||25|
|Season Five||January 3, 2006||May 16, 2006||24|
|Season Six||November 30, 2006||May 17, 2007||22|
|Season Seven||October 25, 2007||May 8, 2008||11|
|Season Eight||January 6, 2009||May 6, 2009||19|
|Season Nine||December 1, 2009||March 17, 2010||13|
|Interns||January 1, 2009||April 8, 2009||12|
- At a Glance: Additional information about the series
- Characters: A listing of recurring characters from the series
DVD and Blu-ray Releases
|The Complete Collection||September 28, 2010||25|
|The Complete First Season||May 7, 2005||3|
|The Complete Second Season||November 15, 2005||3|
|The Complete Third Season||May 9, 2006||3|
|The Complete Fourth Season||October 10, 2006||3|
|The Complete Fifth Season||May 22, 2007||3|
|The Complete Sixth Season||October 30, 2007||3|
|The Complete Seventh Season||November 11, 2008||2|
|The Complete Eighth Season||August 25, 2009||3|
|The Complete and Final Ninth Season||September 28, 2010||2|
|The Complete Eighth Season||November 17, 2009||2|
|Title||Release Date||Music By||#|
|Music from Scrubs||October 2, 2001||Various||15|