Though its quality has declined a bit since Season Four, it's amazing "Scrubs" has lasted as long as it has despite dismal ratings. It's one of the rare instances of a network -- in this case, NBC -- hanging onto a well-written comedy, perhaps too long, with hopes that loyalty would lead to an "Office"-like breakthrough a few seasons in. Either that, or creator Bill Lawrence has some incriminating photographs of an NBC higher-up with a donkey ...
While the show's series finale is in jeopardy thanks to the bloody writers' strike (what isn't?), Lawrence, who also helmed underrated Michael J. Fox-vehicle, "Spin City," told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
that, "If the strike cuts the series short, I will still find a way to deliver the end of the series to the loyal fans that kept us on all this time. Even if that means writing the episodes (post-strike of course) and reading them to people over the phone. A more likely solution would be to have them be part of the seventh-season DVD somehow."
Few big mysteries remain for "Scrubs" -- the "will they, won't they" Elliot-JD dynamic is well past its expiration date, as is any expectation that JD will do some serious growing up now that he has a kid -- but Lawrence promises that the Janitor (Neil Flynn) will get a name by series' end.
"Originally the Janitor was going to end up being a figment of J.D.'s imagination (I never expected the show to last more than a few episodes so that would have been possible -- and why he only interacted with J.D. at first)," Lawrence said. "We just always thought of him as more menacing as a nameless sketchy antagonist and decided not to reveal his name until the end."
As you can discover by watching re-runs on Comedy Central, the Janitor has always been one of the show's delightfully zany, slightly demented bright spots. The writers have done a phenomenal job of keeping Flynn in the background, but giving him enough wacky material to take over scenes when its warranted. If you watch DVD extras from the first four seasons, Flynn also seems to relish the improvisation that comes with such deranged, ammonia-fueled territory. After all, what Scrubs fan can forget "knife-wrench?"
Either way, it'll be interesting to see if the name build-up has a "Cosmo Kramer"-like payoff for longtime viewers. "Scrubs" deserves a nice send-off having been consistently funny, but sadly unappreciated all these years.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, email@example.com