Scrubbing back in?
Creator Bill Lawrence recently talked with TV Guide about re-inventing the show for its final (and first) season on ABC. Lawrence doesn't pull any punches about the show's creative rut these past few years ("When you've been writing this show for seven years, it's so easy to get into these patterns of writing the same jokes over and over: J.D. loves Turk, J.D. wants Dr. Cox's approval, Elliot's whiny and neurotic. But this year the stuff is really (bleepin') good. I think our old stand-by fans are really going to dig these shows") and his fractured relationship with NBC, which led to a disastrous, out-of-order finale on the network.
The best interview excerpts are below, the full rundown here. Also, in some encouraging news for the show's last hurrah, Aziz Ansari of "Human Giant" -- the racist fruit vendor on "Flight of the Conchords" -- and Eliza Coupe -- Lisa, the "Delta Force" operative who wanted to sleep with Bret on "Conchords" -- are joining the cast as interns.
Stealing from "Conchords." I'd say that's pretty good comedy progress ...
From TV Guide:
I was under the impression NBC was willing to give you one episode to finish things off. No?
Lawrence: Well, here's the thing. When the strike ended, NBC said, "You can shoot an hour-long finale, but we'll only pay for half of it." They wanted (ABC Studios) to suck up all the expenses, and ABC said that was unacceptable. And it felt especially harsh because "Scrubs" was pulling in better (ratings) than "30 Rock" and "My Name is Earl" — even though I love those two shows — and they were encouraged to do as many (bleepin') episodes as they can after the strike. And after seven years, I ask for three episodes to wrap up the series and they say, "Tough(bleep)."
How do you go from three episodes on NBC to 18 on ABC?
Lawrence: It was weird, man. I was thinking we'd put these last six episodes on DVD, just so we can wrap the show up and be proud of it, but the head of ABC Studios, Mark Pedowitz, said, "Bill, if you can make the show a little cheaper, I can probably get us a full season on ABC." I didn't answer right away. The first thing I did was call the cast and the writers together and I said, "Look, if we're going to do this, we have to get back to something we creatively can all be excited about." Because, personally, I felt like this past season we were less than inspired comedically. So I said to them, "This means you guys working harder. It means having emotional stakes and losing all the goofy, broad stuff that I think is easy to write… " And everyone said they were on board for one more season.
Will the show still be a comedy?
Lawrence: It's still a comedy, but when we first did the show, it was a drama with elements of comedy and lots of stupid sound effects. But some of the strongest episodes in the second and third year had character comedy. You can still do things like kill Brendan Fraser and have the lady that loved musical theater die and then sing a song at the end. This became a very Simpsons-esque show with incredibly broad, unrealistic moments and fantasies that were both in reality and not in reality.
-- Thomas Rozwadowski, email@example.com