I'm pretty excited for the season to start, but of course it's bittersweet since it's the last season.
Creator Bill Lawrence will resolve the will-they-or-won't-they of docs J.D. (Zach Braff) and Elliot (Sarah Chalke). But that's only one of many relationships that will get substantial attention in the hospital comedy's seventh and final season, which premieres tonight (NBC, 9:30 ET/PT).
"We're going to resolve those things during the year rather than build up to some overwrought, emotional finale. This is a comedy. All people want is a chance to say goodbye and that we tie up loose ends," Lawrence says, then jokes: "Then we're going to cut to black really quick and play a Journey song."
Lawrence says the main goal is to satisfy "the loyal cult audience," one that has helped the Emmy-nominated series score a long run, despite so-so ratings.
"This fan base has kept the show alive single-handedly by consuming the DVDs and websites and following us from time slot to time slot," he says. "If you try to satisfy them, they feel very proprietary about the show. If you're not a big juggernaut hit, it's the way to stay alive."
Knowing this is the final season, Lawrence and his writers get to plan the show's conclusion, a luxury that wasn't available last season because it wasn't clear when the show would end. That's one reason last season ended with cliffhanging stories, such as J.D.'s impending fatherhood and Elliot's upcoming wedding, both of which will be addressed this season.
Questions surrounding many other relationships will be answered as well, such as: Will physician buddies J.D. and Turk (Donald Faison), who is married to nurse Carla (Judy Reyes), remain as close as they have been in the face of adulthood? Will J.D. finally get validation from the sharp-tongued Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley)?
Braff, whose perpetual man-child character will do some growing up this season, especially enjoys the intimacy of the J.D.-Turk friendship. "It's funny and original. I think Bill has pushed the envelope in how gay two characters can be without actually being gay," he says of a duo that sang Guy Love in last season's musical episode.
In addition, the janitor (Neil Flynn) will finally get a name and a girlfriend, because that's what Flynn asked for if the show returned for a seventh season. Secondary characters will get attention, including jittery lawyer Ted (Sam Lloyd), self-loving surgeon Todd (Robert Maschio) and Dr. Cox's wife, Jordan (Christa Miller, who is married to Lawrence).
Some guest stars will return, including Tom Cavanagh and Elizabeth Banks. Lawrence and Braff wish they could bring back others, such as Brendan Fraser, but the writers killed off some characters.
In place of a musical, this season's extravaganza, directed by Braff, will pay homage to The Princess Bride, centering on a bedtime story Dr. Cox tells his daughter. That means wild costumes for cast members who will play such characters as the village idiot (Braff), a giant (Flynn), a princess (Chalke) and a knight (McGinley).
Such signature fantasy scenes have been part of Scrubs' odd balancing act, a comedy that can be extremely broad while also touching on serious emotional elements. When the show has gotten too goofy, that connection has broken, Lawrence says.I'm glad to hear they're not doing another musical episode. I never got what all the hub-lub was about that. I thought it was one of the worst eps of last season. I'm looking forward to the episode where Aloma Wright returns. As you may remember, her character Nurse Laverne Roberts died last year. Rumor has it, that this season she returns to the hospital as a new nurse, with a new name, and JD is the only one who even remotely notices how much she looks like Laverne. That right there is funny in itself. Scrubs returns tonight on NBC, at 9:30pm.