We've all heard the news that the ninth season of Scrubs (and the show's second season on ABC after seven years on NBC) will move from Sacred Heart (supposedly a teaching hospital) to a medical school, with Turk (Donald Faison) and Cox (John C. McGinley) in the faculty ranks. J.D. (Zach Braff) will make spot appearances, as will Elliot (Sarah Chalke), The Janitor (Neil Flynn), Carla (Judy Reyes), and Kelso (Ken Jenkins). Sounds pretty normal, right? Same cast, different setting. Desperate Housewives flashed forward, so why can't Scrubs mix it up, too?
Show creator Bill Lawrence explained to iF Magazine at last week's TCA's that the show would acquire several new actors, too. He likened the change in setting to the transition between Cheers and its 1993 spinoff Frasier, saying, "Frasier was very smart, because they moved it to a new location, so it didn't bother you when you didn't see Sam and Diane." Scrubs hopes to achieve a similar connection with its viewers by placing the med school across the street from Sacred Heart, where old characters will haunt the hallways and occasionally pop up on the revamped show.
Something's fishy here. Is Scrubs getting a spinoff -- with its same name? Or is it just getting a makeover? Lawrence mentioned that he tried to get the name changed to "Scrubs Med," but clearly the name hasn't been adopted. And, for awhile, he thought the show would end while it was still on NBC. ("I felt we had been writing the ending of Scrubs for four years, because I thought it was going to be cancelled for four years.") So what's the deal? Will Scrubs pull off the spinoff? Will the show assume its former identity and continue for 9 more seasons? Or will it float in no-man's land until ABC pulls the plug (or CBS gives it a try)?
One thing's for sure: Scrubs (if we can really call it that) better get its act together if it wants to make so many changes. But the truth is that Scrubs should quit while it's ahead. Actually, while it's already behind. After eight seasons and one network change, it's time to stop the madness.