Why NBC Needs to Cancel ‘Scrubs’ and Save ’30 Rock’

This week, Touchstone Entertainment (Producers of ‘Scrubs’) gave Zach Braff a contract extension which, should Scrubs enter into its 7th season, would make him one of the highest paid actors in television along with Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men. This is, of course, contingent on NBC renewing the series for next year, which is still somewhat up in the air. While My Name is Earl and The Office are both renewed already, the other half of ‘Comedy Night Done Right'(‘Scrubs’ and Tina Fey’s ’30 Rock’) is still on the bubble. And, I’m here to prove to NBC why it needs to cancel ‘Scrubs’ and keep the lower-rated ’30 Rock’.

Scrubs has been at a creative low point since its third season or so after they ran the J.D./Elliot relationship possibility into the ground in a very short period of time. It was a show operating as if each season could be its last, and it exhausted a great deal of its potential storylines during that period of time. These characters and their relationships with one another were what really made Scrubs interesting, whether it was Dr. Cox’s guidance to J.D. in times of crisis or everyone rallying for a cause. There seemed to be purpose to these characters, and they seemed to gain a sense of independence in their actions which had consequences and the like.

And yet, now, things mean nothing. At the beginning of last season, I believe, Elliot left Sacred Heart for another hospital…and came running back just a few episodes later with little to no effect on the character. Earlier this season, even, she decided to go into private practice, and it’s changed absolutely nothing after the show had a perfunctory episode where it became a huge deal and characters became vindictive for almost no reason. Carla had her baby, got postpartum depression, and then had been magically fine ever since?

If there is a lack of drama in the life department, their employment drama has been reduced even further. Remember when Turk feuded with fellow surgeons, or had trouble with his boss, or felt unsure about a procedure? Well, no more, apparently he has an easy time dealing with being a doctor. I honestly think that these people are almost too good at their jobs, considering that we sure see them chatting around and having a coffee in the new Starbucks clone in the hospital. Sure, we had the episode where Dr. Cox lost three of his patients due to a virus, but that was the last time anything even close to real “medical drama” that the show attempted.

Now, you might say that “this is a comedy, it doesn’t need drama”, but that wasn’t the way it was just a few years ago. They said that being able to film episodes without weekly airings in the Fall (Due to a January premiere, pushed up this year due to the failure of 20 Good Years) allowed them more freedom, but I really wish they could have been constrained, because the wackiness is becoming a problem. Once an occasional diversion which made Scrubs a combination of modern sitcoms and animated shows like ‘The Simpsons’ or ‘Family Guy’, they’ve now become the backbone of the show’s comedy.

In last night’s episode, Dr. Cox turned into Alice from the Brady Brunch in one of J.D.’s fantasies, and it boggled my mind. What was the point of that diversion, exactly? It wasn’t particularly funny to see him in a giant wig, it didn’t really fit into their characters, and the fact that Dr. Cox actually choreographed the fantasy FOR J.D. made it seem clunky and unfortunate. I don’t mind these bursts of wackiness every now and then, but this was just one of many in an episode that was supposed to be a serious look at Private Dancer’s struggles with his acceptance into the army.

And, maybe it’s just me, but that should have been a fairly emotional moment for these characters. And yet, when Elliot discovered the letter from the army, the reaction of everyone wasn’t the least bit emotional. J.D. was being a complete jerk about the dead girl Turk slept with (His phone call to her mother was disgusting, not funny), Carla was trying too hard to be funny, and no one seemed overly concerned in the least. And then, Elliot revealed that she had once tried to commit suicide.

This is an important character point, something that speaks to the character’s traumatic past…and it becomes a joke. J.D. actually multiple times interjects as if it was over him, and eventually it turns out she had wanted to do it but never really got a chance to go through with it before she got hit in the head with a paddle. The show wants to play with these more serious subjects, but it absolutely refuses to actually deal with them. This was a show which used to really deal with these characters, and now everything has to turn into comedy.

While one could argue that Kim’s early season pregnancy was an example of something which was handled in a dramatic fashion, it was conceived without sexual intercourse and only became serious when they needed it to be. And, in the end, the rest of the season has revealed a very different set of morals and characters which have come to the forefront. Scrubs doesn’t know it’s own identity right now, as it tries to become a wacky live-action ‘Family Guy’ while ignoring much of what made it endearing in the first place.

I want to see doctors being doctors, surgeons being surgeons, neurotic characters being neurotic but not too neurotic, and i want to see these characters being themselves and interacting with one another in such a fashion. As every episode comes and goes with little but sideplots and no overarching story to tie them together, I can’t help but yearn for times when I could take these characters seriously. Sure, the Private Dancer arc has given some consistency, but has it really helped the show deal with any new issues? Or any issues at all in a serious fashion? The answer is now. It has lost the ability to do that in its new form.

Scrubs has done all it can do as a sitcom at this point; it lacks the dramatic drive to make another season entertaining at this point in time. Sure, you could give them 13 episodes to end things, but from a creative perspective I don’t know what they’d do with it. There just isn’t enough left of the show that once was to be able to conclude things in a meaningful way. It may seem like the easy decision, but the show just isn’t worth it anymore. It may have flashes of genius here and there, but it’s not enough to justify its continued airing.

So, sorry Scrubs, but I think it’s time you went out to pasture, as the third spot in next year’s ‘Comedy Night Done Right’ has been earned by Tina Fey’s ’30 Rock.’

No one knew what to expect from this Tina Fey vehicle coming out of pilot season, as the original pilot had been largely chucked aside in favour of a new one with a newly cast Jane Krakowski. Tracy Morgan is an acquired taste, Tina Fey not exactly an actress, and the show was almost identical in concept to Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. And, Alec Baldwin hadn’t exactly done much television to this point, so there was a bit of a concern over this as well.

And yet, 30 Rock has perhaps been the most consistent show in NBC’s Thursday Night Lineup. Tina Fey has come into her own as an actress, and Liz Lemon is an incredibly convincing lead character. Jane Krakowski is annoying, but her Jenna has its place in the show that isn’t too much, too often. Tracy Morgan’s insanity may be an acquired taste, but I think that the show knows just how to use it. And, as we should have all known, Alec Baldwin is a comedic genius deserving of his SAG and Golden Globe Awards.

However, we could have assumed some of this; what we couldn’t assume were the surprises waiting for us. Kenneth the page is an amazing character, innocent and naive while being surprisingly worldly at the same time. The other writers and performers are caricatures, sure, but then they have lines they’re there for comedic effect and work well. Whereas relationships tend to drag down that other backstage sketch show…show, Liz’s relationship problems seem natural, and aren’t overbearing in the show’s narrative.

And these are bigger things, but what about the little touches, the little moments? The washed out “Katie Couric Sucks” on Brian Williams’ wall? Jack’s outtakes reel from his product integration video? Conan O’Brien’s cameo appearance, or the “To Catch a Predator” cameo? The show may not have the mythology of The Office, but it makes up for it by packing episodes full of moments like these. It isn’t just about a sketch show, but it expands itself to remain fresh on a weekly basis.

It isn’t a perfect show, but I want to see a lot more of these characters. I think that Fey should get a chance to expand the show’s dynamics, introduce some new characters, play with some more plotlines. Week by week the show is coming to the table with comedy that deals with issues while remaining laugh out loud funny, and without reverting to unrealistic visions every ten seconds. While not comparable at the level of sheer quality, 30 Rock is the closest thing to Arrested Development on TV today. It’s a sitcom with strong characters that, almost every week, provides fantastic situations and pairings which work to the show’s advantage. Kenneth and Tracy, such a pairing, provided an entirely new dynamic that displayed both comedic potential and comedic versatility that I didn’t even know the show had.

NBC, you need to give ’30 Rock’ a chance to continue. While it’s heading on a 6-week hiatus to allow for Andy Barker P.I. to air its short run, it’s scheduled to return in April to finish out its batch of episodes. I implore everyone to watch the show at that point, but at the same time I must warn NBC that you can’t just look at viewership here. Scrubs might be getting more people watching, but creatively it just isn’t there anymore. 30 Rock is your Arrested Development, a show that deserves a chance to continue into next season. Put it after The Office, let its ratings tick up, and let people discover this show over the summer whether it’s on DVD or over the internet.

Chances are you’ll be canceling one of the four comedies which are during ‘Comedy Night Done Right’. I hope, NBC, that you make the right choice. Sorry, Scrubs, but it’s ’30 Rock’ that has to stay.

32 Comments

Filed under 30 Rock, Scrubs

32 responses to “Why NBC Needs to Cancel ‘Scrubs’ and Save ’30 Rock’

  1. Sooba

    “The show wants to play with these more serious subjects, but it absolutely refuses to actually deal with them. This was a show which used to really deal with these characters, and now everything has to turn into comedy.”

    You’ve captured right there exactly what’s wrong with Scrubs this season! They have so much dramatic material which I think would have been used to its full potential in earlier seasons, but they turn it into a joke and downplay its impact– it doesn’t feel sincere anymore.

    That said, I’m far too attached to Scrubs to advocate killing it.

  2. I have never seen 30rock but I love….i mean really love scrubs….I think its one of the funniest…I cant wait for the day my name is earl the office and the scrubs comes on…I record everyone…
    And I say RENEW RENEW…
    Just my .o2

  3. TJ

    I think you have poor taste in shows, 30 Rock is nowhere near as brilliant as Scrubs is. TV is lucky to have such a great show such as Scrubs.

  4. Noac

    I agree to some extent. Scrubs should have been completed with the end of Season 5 if not earlier. Maybe the word canceled means something else for most but for me that would mean that someone else says you’re done, not that the series takes that decision themselves. So I would rather see it finished than canceled.

    If had it my way I would have finished it with the best episode ever, where Dr. Cox leaves after having accidentally “killed” (word choice of the series not me) three patients. Maybe one concluding episode to follow not sure if is necessary but that would have been at least going out strong. I do like the following episode when J.D. says that he admires how someone who has worked as long as Dr. Cox has and still gets upset but it would had been worth it to go out on a strong note and miss this.

    Now it’s much like The Simpsons, you love the series but it’s more like a old brilliant friend who had considerable brain damage and isn’t really the same anymore. It’s like Gretzky’s last seasons. But it should be their decision not something like Dignitas.

  5. Bob

    I havent even read this article and I can tell you it is the worst article ever made! The fact that it was even written made me lose my faith in humanity, and I think you should be ashamed of yourself.

  6. Bree

    I think Scrubs is way better than 30 Rock. I mean, I like both shows, but if given the chance, I would definitely save Scrubs. It’s brilliand and funny 90% of the time, and even if the last 2 seasons weren’t as good as the previous, Scrubs is still one of the best comedy on television. Plus, if NBC would cancel it, ABC will definitely pick it and maybe will give the show the attention (and the publicity) it deseves and get better ratings. If NBC lets Scrubs goes, it would probably be one of their biggest mistakes…

  7. The Todd

    Awful opinion, I couldn’t even get through your entire post. Your arguments are wrong and very personal to yourself. I like both shows but Scrubs is leagues and leagues better than 30 rock

  8. Vanessa Di Domenico

    You know nothing of good show production, or of good actors. JD is a Shakespeare actor, with REAL acting experience, to the point that Woody Allen has had him in one of his movies as his son!!! What can YOU say of ‘Rock 30’ that matches THAT?

    And the show deals with the USA’s terrible medical problems without exposing the uninitiated in politics to understand the deep side- which is good to keep them laughing, and keep us who DO understand admiring the show. I suppose your comments mean that you know nothing of politics.

    Also, we must admire its medical exactness. Kelso once threw out a Dr friend of his for not having his medical knowledge updated, telling him that ‘5 years after you’re out of medical school all you learned is obsolete’, and did the right thing, which true US MDs only do in super-expensive hositals.

    Trust me- we Quakers, one of whom founded the N. 1 hospital in the world (Johns Hopkins) have already discussed the show online and consider it to be one of the few TV shows not made for idiots, but for smart people to watch and laugh.

    The relationships between the characters are wonderful, and exploring the problems of an MD in his mind is a great way of seeing they are also human.

    Vanessa Di Domenico
    Maracaibo, Venezuela

  9. Tim

    Wow, you really watch a lot of TV. I gotta say, I have watched both these shows and I couldn’t disagree with you more. Judging by the ratings I would say I am joined by many in my opinion.

    For me TV is a stress reliever, I am social worker who deals with homeless youth everyday – I look for a show that lets me relax and unwind. Scrubs is that show.

    As far as Cox dressing up – they’ve been doing that since the start numbnuts.

  10. Riley

    I agree with several of your points. The episode of Scrubs with Private Dancer leaving was done very poorly, with JD’s disturbing phone call to Stacey’s mother, Elliot’s silly way of talking about her suicide attempt, and Carla being annoyingly not funny. However, the two episodes following that one have been much much better. Especially the episode on 3/22, the only thing I found wrong with it was the storyline about Isabella’s nanny, it didn’t have much substance and JD’s made-up story about their date was just plain stupid. I don’t think that Scrubs should be canceled, because even if it has wound down in the past few years, I would still rather watch a bad episode of Scrubs than any other show on television.

  11. Wow, a sudden explosion of interest in this post. Two things of note:

    1. This article was written before we learned that ABC may pick up Scrubs; to be honest, that is the best case scenario, and I would much rather there exist a world in which Scrubs was on the air than one where it is canceled entirely.

    2. Scrubs has been much better since I wrote this article; it’s still a bit rough, but as Riley notes March 22nd’s episode contained some real emotion and storylines. I still think that there are some long-term issues (Not enough recurring storylines and Cox was being a BIT of a dick to Laverne), but individual episodes have been more focused.

  12. Dave

    Right on! Scrubs used to be the freshest, funniest comedy on NBC, maybe even network TV, but that was three years ago. That honor now goes to 30 Rock. Scrubs is tired, the jokes are old and strained. It’s just not doing anything new. 30 Rock, on the other hand, is amazing. The characters are wonderful, the situations hilarious, and the writing superb. This show makes me excited for Thursday evenings in a way I haven’t been since Seinfeld went off. Tina Fey is a true talent, Tracy Morgan is a off-beat gem, and Alec Baldwin is better than I’ve ever seen him. A Great Show…

  13. Vikas

    I completely agree with this article. Scrubs is a shadow of its former self, tired and overly-whimsical, and I can’t help but think that the current writers aspire to get job offers over at Fox writing the Family Guy.

    30 rock is much more off-beat and more importantly, it’s fresh. I can’t believe people don’t see this. I gotta say, the people who posted above wouldn’t know a good comedy if it fell off a tree branch and bit them in the ass.

  14. Pingback: Cultural Feedback: SNL's Sofa King, 24's Final Act « Cultural Learnings

  15. Walker

    I can not believe “Bob” saying, I haven’t even read this but I can guarantee the it is the worst article ever. Next time Bob should spend the time leaving a comment to read the article.

  16. Pingback: Thursday Night TV Club Showdown: April 26th, 2007 « Cultural Learnings

  17. dank

    SCRUBS IS THE BEST. 30 Rock is lame and extremely random past the point of funny.

  18. Cat

    While Scrubs is an entertaining, addictive show with well-developed characters, 30 Rock remains a boring, contrived, and two-dimensional flop. It’s true that Scrubs has gotten a little sidetracked, but that doesn’t change the fact that they should remain on the air for at least one more season. If they would just go a little lighter on the slapstick and focus on resuming their coherent plotlines and staying true to the nature of the characters, Scrubs could easily remain one of the best shows on television. When shows start to go downhill, they tend to introduce the most outrageous and blatant writing they can in hopes of hanging on to high ratings. It’s better just to let a show run its course and draw it to a meaningful conclusion than to let it die a slow and painful death or to pull the plug without resolving the storylines. Scrubs deserves at least one more season to work out its story. It is an excellent show, and the idea that it should be cancelled before its time and replaced with a failed experiement like 30 Rock is ludicrous.

  19. i cant beleive you have said this, i mean scrubs is the best american (im english)TV show since Friends finished, and who cares if it doesnt have a message in each and every episode, stop taking it so seriously.
    i mean come on, its literally genius, floating head doctor doing CPR, the whole thing is amazing, they cast all the right people aswell

    RENEW RENEW RENEW RENEW RENEW RENEW RENEW RENEW RENEW RENEW

  20. Pingback: TV Switch On » Blog Archive » Why NBC Needs to Cancel ‘Scrubs’ and Keep ‘30 Rock’

  21. Michelle

    I love Scrubs but I have to agree that 1. The episode where Private Dancer leaves (titled “My Fishbowl”) was the worst Scrubs episode I have ever seen and I literally cant go through it and watch it again. I skip over it when watching Scrubs… It was so poorly put together. 2, I feel that the Scrubs storyline isnt as good as it was in the first 3 seasons, and I think it is best that it is ending after season 7. I want to see a nice wrap up of all the characters stories but I dont feel like we are seeing the same amusing, fresh humor that we got at the start of the series. Thats just my opinion 🙂

  22. Jim

    this is the most stupid articlek i have ever read, if you dont like scrubs, stop watching it, they will not cancel it just because you think that the actors are paid to much, or because you think the jokes arent funny…..

  23. Karen

    Who ever typed this page is an idiot, cry me a river if you think that there is not enough drama. Plus it isnt real life, its a tv show, so there is going to be some things that are a little far-fetched

  24. Cj

    i think that they should wrap it up by making a scrubs movie

  25. Kitty

    I like both shows but I am not clammering for new episodes of Scrubs like I am for new episodes of 30 Rock.

    I have always loved Scrubs but I just don’t get excited about it anymore. Right now I can’t stop talking about 30 Rock. It’s a shame that more people just don’t get this show. It’s more subtle than most think. I swear I don’t stop laughing for the whole 21 minutes. It’s brilliant!

    Suck it Aaron Sorkin…Tina does it better!

    I still love Bill Lawrence though. I hope he gets to wind his show up the way it should be done!

  26. I Hear By Represent Scrubs

    Scrubs has done no wrong, But on the account of ‘Being Canceled’ The people Have spoken

    Scrub owns Your Face in, Literally, U Seem to be a fan of scrubs, figuring You Watch it Alot.

    SO STFU , You got a problem? Give us your address, i be 3/4 of the people who commented want to

    KICK YOUR ASS!!!

  27. Marika

    I honestly can’t remember a show that can touch Scrubs perfection. I would not change a single episode and I’ll be heartbroken the day Scrubs is officially done. There are enough mindless sitcoms on TV, let’s keep one that captures every aspect of a flawless show.

  28. max

    wow are u kidding me? maybe u need a life. people want a show that they can kick back and have a few laughs. Scrubs is that shows its great. if u dont think so your a fool. Its just the best show. Obviously u know nothing

  29. myles

    your all wrong. scrubs is better then any other show you listed, in fact, scrubs is better then any show period. its a great show. your out of your mind.

  30. Boke

    when 30 rock dvd sales go through the roof they will get put back on the air. and they willllllllllllllllll

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