Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

The New Scrubs: Worst Television Idea Ever?

Posted by Mr. Feeny on November 27, 2009

That’s a bold statement. And I’m pretty sure there at least 10 ideas worse than this. But Scrubs‘ decision to come back for a ninth season and completely change their premise is certainly the stupidest of this season.

I was a huge fan of Scrubs in its early seasons. It was easily one of the funniest sitcoms on television earlier this decade. Quirky, clever, funny…just a joy to watch and to quote. But as the series continued, it became less and less humorous. Aside from “My Musical,” there really wasn’t a must-watch episode over the last three seasons. Nothing that I really want to watch again, while I could watch the early ones over and over on DVD.

The last season in particular introduced a slew of new interns in an attempt jump start the show. But it didn’t work. Ratings lagged as did the jokes. So, when JD said goodbye to Sacred Heart in the presumptive series finale, it was bittersweet. Scrubs had a long run and clearly overstayed its welcome. After all, NBC canceled the show, only to get new life on ABC. That clearly didn’t work the wonders it was supposed to, so the show ended.

Or so you thought. But once again, the show’s producers pulled out the defibrillator and brought Scrubs back to life again. Still on ABC but with a completely new setting and mostly new cast of characters. Technically, the show returns this Tuesday (8pm CT), but it might as well be called a premiere. The show you knew and once loved is gone. Now, it’s Scrubs: Med School. Though still by its original title (the producer Bill Lawrence — now working on Cougar Town — has said he wished it had a different name…so why doesn’t it?? They just keep calling it “The New Scrubs”)

You’ll see Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke a little bit early this season as JD and Elliott, but they’ve mostly left the show. So has the Janitor (with his starring role on ABC’s The Middle) and Carla and all the other little characters. The only long-time characters you’ll see week in and week out are Dr. Cox and Turk. Both great characters on the side, but taking over the whole show, along with some new students? And what would make them become instructors? And will viewers like the new female Zach Braff taking over?

Something missing from these photos...

Something's missing from these photos...

There are two parallels I can think of for this type of Hail Mary pass. Norman Lear did it (reluctantly) with All in the Family. That classic sitcom ended in 1979 on what seemed like a natural note. Gloria and Mike moved away. That’s that. The Bunker family separated, nothing left to show. But the network wasn’t ready to get rid of their lovable curmudgeon, so they turned it into Archie Bunker’s Place. Most of the episodes were set inside Archie’s bar and he was basically the only character that returned. Jean Stapleton’s Edith was phased out and eventually killed off. The show did somehow last four years, but it was never close to the success of the original.

A decade after Archie Bunker’s Place ended, CBS tried it again. This time with The Golden Girls. Bea Arthur’s marriage ended the series’ run, but the network kept it going with the other three women on The Golden Palace. Although it helped launch Don Cheadle’s career, it did very little else. It frankly lost all the humor of the original without Dorothy, not to mention the premise of four retirees was lost. Now they were running a hotel in Miami. At least Archie’s made sense…The Golden Palace just came out of nowhere.

Both those shows marketed themselves as something new, though. Can anyone think of a long-running show that just completely changed everything and continued as the original? Not just characters…many have done that. But setting and premise to boot. I’d like to think this will finally be the end of a now-embarrassing sitcom, but Scrubs has lasted so long it’s hard to bet against it.


One Response to “The New Scrubs: Worst Television Idea Ever?”

  1. CJ Cregg said

    I wasn’t going to watch. But I did. Have to say, not as bad as I thought it would be. But not good. And once Braff leaves, goodness knows how bad it’s going to get.

    Here’s another take:–838

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