Exclusive: SCRUBS Creator Bill Lawrence Addresses Fan’s Concerns

From “pleasantly surprised,” and “still funny,” to “such a disappointment,” and “Zach Braff needs to be scaled WAY down,” everybody’s a critic. Particularly when it comes to a series as beloved as SCRUBS.

Which is why, in the Part Two of our candid conversation with SCRUBS/COUGAR TOWN creator Bill Lawrence, the man himself was took the opportunity to allow the showrunner to address many of the concerns fans have.

As great as it is to see SCRUBS back on the air, I’m concerned that the overpopulation of Sacred Heart Medical School (thanks to the return of Kelso, Turk, Dr. Cox and J.D.) is taking away some much needed time to get to know the new cast members. Was there every any serious discussion with regards to not bringing back as many original cast members as you did?
Bill Lawrence: No. The appeal for me in putting these guys [Turk, Kelso, Dr. Cox, J.D.] into the ‘teacher’ role was that they’re (a) funny, and (b) I like the consistency of having these people in the world. I’ve been getting a lot of, “It seems really crowded,” and my response has been, “It’s only been two episodes!” If one were to go back and look at the original SCRUBS, I’d say after the first two episodes outside of Zach [Braff] all you thought was that Elliott is the neurotic one, Turk is the tough-cocky jock, Kelso is an a**hole and Carla is the strong nurse with attitude. No one was well rounded.

As you probably know, I wish the show had a new title. The burden of the show is that because it’s still titled SCRUBS, there is this expectation that we should be firing on all cylinders and know the world. Whereas, if the new show was called MED SCHOOL, I think people would see it more as what it is, a pilot and wonder, “Oh, I wonder where they’re going to go with these character and I wonder what the show will turn out to be like.” Make sense?

Completely makes sense. Seriously, you win the argument, [Or in the parlance of HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER] I’ve been lawyered!
No it’s not an argument… I think that you’re right, but what’s interesting is that I follow the traffic online and have read, “Man, all these characters are one note.” And I’m like, “I don’t know about that.” I think that with J.D. being in the first couple of episodes there is not as much character development as we might have liked. But I would say, if you look at the character of Denise [Eliza Coupe], she started one-note on the show a year ago and now we have time as the show moves forward to open her up and I think we’ll do the same with the others.

It’s interesting your brought up Denise, because without knowing anything about the SCRUBS spin-off, I for some reason was under the impression that Eliza Coupe would be assuming J.D’s role as narrator. Was that ever a possibility?
It was. Except the issue for us was if you do that you have to repeat SCRUBS. And although we’re rarely persons of continuity, we already established that she was an intern, which is even a couple of years past med student. If you would have given her the narrator that means the new show would be just SCRUBS with a new character because she would have to be in the hospital everyday, she wouldn’t be teaching, there wouldn’t be a med school. We were more interested in making her a main character the same way Elliot was — but really pursue this relationship with this new guy and follower her pretty deeply.

In an effort to make the show seem fresh we really just wanted to go back to Med School with the whole notion that these kids are really just three months removed from being at Fraternity and Sorority parties and still behaving that way. You know, all caught up in who’s dating whom, going to class, and I felt that that would give the show a different feel. Whereas a show based around Eliza would just be SCRUBS Part II with a new intern.

Although it must be nice to be apart of ABC’s comedy resurgence this season, is the downside that there is now added pressure to succeed?
I don’t think so. There’s always been pressure to make your television shows work. One of the biggest complaints I get from writers/producers is that as recently as five or six years ago, if you had a show that people responded to creatively you would have a minimum of a year to get that thing up and running, get the characters rounded and people invested. Now you have to produce pretty quickly or you’re going to disappear. Which is understandable considering how much money networks spend on producing shows, especially single camera shows. But ABC has been really supportive with that and of me and I’m not feeling pressure because COUGAR TOWN is doing great, and is going to be on the air for at least another year and we’ll see what happens next year. For me to feel the pressure about SCRUBS, which has already been on for eight years is insane. People are either going to invest in these new young actors and characters and want to get to know more, or they won’t. But either way I feel good about it and feel like it’s funnier than a lot of what I see on television and I like where the show is going so I’m fine regardless of what happens.

Inside the Mind of SCRUBS and COUGAR TOWN Creator Bill Lawrence (Part I)

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