The cast of Scrubs just got offstage a few minutes ago at the TCA press tour, and my stomach still hurts from laughing. The Sacred Heart crew seems so grateful to have what Zach Braff called "a bonus year" to work together after narrowly escaping cancellation (well, several times) at the hands of NBC. Now on ABC, whose studio arm has produced the show since the start, Scrubs seems creatively refreshed — I'll say that I personally laughed harder at the brief trailer for the new season than I have at any episode in years. There was enough material in their 45-minute session to fuel several posts (and probably a stand-up special for executive producer Bill Lawrence), but I'll just share a few of the best tidbits now:
- The million-dollar question: Is this the last year of Scrubs? "It is most likely Zach Braff's final year on the show," Lawrence said. But he said he's always thought the show could be like the comedy version of ER, with new actors coming in. We'll see new interns this Fall, including the hilarious Aziz Ansari. Regardless of whether ABC decides to bring the show back for another year, "We're certainly going to film the last one like it's young Zach Braff's exit and make a big deal out of it," Lawrence said.
- For Braff's part, he said he does have the sense that it's his last year — but he "would love to come back and visit, direct some, do craft service if they need some . . . "
- Lawrence said the characters will change a little bit this year (partially because now they'll be the bosses of a whole new group of young doctors). "One of the things that sometimes bums me about television as a TV fan is, we like continuity. We don't want our characters to change," Lawrence said. "At the same time, once you reach the seven- or eight-year mark, you're like, when the hell are these people going to change?"
To hear a little bit about some of the new episodes — which Lawrence said are "as good as anything we've done" — and see what's taking the cast to the Bahamas, just
- Ken Jenkins (Dr. Kelso) is still a regular on the show, so we'll definitely see him next year.
- Lawrence said that because of the uncertain status of Scrubs for the past several seasons, the finale has been written for "about four and a half years — we just have to change some pop culture references." Lawrence would only offer that the end would be JD leaving the hospital, with a sense that the theme would be about "when you leave, whether you can hold on to your relationships or not."
- He also said that the show will be over when we learn the Janitor's name — but Neil Flynn offered up his own suggestion in the session: "Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFake" (or possibly McFate; it was hard to tell).
- Lawrence on Courteney Cox's appearance: "She is what we call a gamer. She is up for anything. I don't think you get that all the time with high-profile actresses." He said while the main cast was at the TCA panel, Cox was back on set "with her face jammed into some guy's bloody corpse," filming a fantasy sequence.
- The cast spent a week filming in the Bahamas, which Lawrence called "one of the best experiences I've had." The plot: The Janitor is getting married, and he invites 700 people to the Bahamas on short notice to get the gifts. JD tries to convince people to show up and ruin his wedding.
- Fun fact: Lawrence himself will play the minister who marries the Janitor and his wife-to-be.
Photo copyright 2008 ABC, Inc.