Zach Braff's Scrubs is set to reopen its hospital doors on ABC January 6. The big news is star Zach Braff's official exit from the show when this season completes. But we will not dwell on that as we chat with Braff about the former NBC hit's upcoming ABC debut.
Braff and team have already wrapped shooting, so fans who follow the Scrubs doctors of Sacred Heart Hospital to their new network can expect a full dose of goofy JD and his quest for love.
"JD's still is struggling to maintain a female relationship," Braff says to SheKnows. "He's got a kid now. That's making him grow up, so even though he's not with Elizabeth Banks (Kim), he's going to eventually want to settle down. Getting older and having a kid make him want to experience the next phase of his life."
Many fans are more concerned over the show's next phase of life and how the move to ABC - aka the magical world of Disney - will affect Scrubs' off-the-wall and often sharp-tongued humor.
"Well, most of the year is animated," creator Bill Lawrence jokes. "No, I don't think it's a big thing, because this has been an ABC-Disney show from its inception. We were on NBC, but 100 percent owned by Disney and ABC, and they have been so supportive from the start.
"Production remains the same and we're going to deliver the same show we have for eight years," he promises.
As with any returning show, however, fans will recognize some new faces. Aware Braff was likely going to exit, Scrubs
bolstered its ensemble cast with a host of younger players, including Aziz Ansari, Eliza Coupe, Betsy Beutler and Lee Thompson Young.
"When I created this show, I pitched it as possibly being like ER as a comedy, with some revolving cast members putting new blood in," Laurence recounts. "On a cool side, most of the actors chose to stay this whole time, but now we've brought some younger people into the show, so when Zach leaves..."
So how does the star, Braff, see his new co-stars?
"I keep calling them the 'kids'. It makes me feel so old!" Braff quips. "It's great to bring in new energy. We all needed that. It's one of the reasons we have a new-found inspiration this season. It's nice to have fresh people come in, even when they're guest stars like Elizabeth Banks, because they bring their own, fun energy."
Super Scrubs guest starsElizabeth Banks
is actually set to return for a visit, along with guest stars Scott Foley (Sean), Tom Cavanagh (Dan), Amy Smart (Jamie) and Nicole Sullivan (Jill), but the show's big catch this year is Courteney Cox Arquette
, who checks in for a three episode stint as Chief of Medicine.
"We didn't know who would be playing the character for a long time and when we heard it was Courteney, a TV comedy legend, we were all very excited," Braff says. "She could not be the nicest person and she's done a fantastic job of being courageous and ready to play. We have her doing some really goofy stuff that I don't think anyone's seen her do. She's laughing a lot and having a blast."
Apparently, she'll even get "prosthetically stuck in someone's body" this season, whatever that means!
Scrubs new prescription
As for what's next for Braff? Zach may come back to the hospital as one of those big name guest stars or even return to direct an episode or two if the show returns for another season, but he has his eye on the big screen.
"I'm not going to go act in another TV show," Braff says. His attentions are more towards replicating his Garden State
cinematic experience. "I'd like to direct my second film. I've got a whole bunch of movies I'd like to make and others' movies that I'd like to act in. It's probably time for a new chapter."
Of course, after eight years with the same Scrubs
team, walking away was not easy.
"It's the greatest job in the world, being paid to go to work, laugh with your friends and attempt to make the fans laugh," Braff says. "This ABC season was a big surprise and we're very grateful. We thought we were ending last year and this has been a bonus, amazing year. We're having a blast."
The Scrubs cast is as close as they appear on screen. "There's not a lot of practical jokes onset, but we tease the hell out of each other," Braff continues. "After spending eight years in an abandoned hospital with people, you get to know all their little buttons to push and we love to mess with each other."
Scrubs A.B. (After-Braff)
The question on everyone's minds is whether Scrubs
can survive Braff's exit, even with a new crop of cast members. Fans will have to wait to see how the new season plays out, and whether ABC will even pick it up for a ninth season, second for the alphabet network. "It's just one of those never-say-never-type situations," Lawrence hedges, but he has high hopes. "We found ourselves reinvigorated this year, creatively. I'm really proud of the show, this year."
Braff has similar raves and high hopes for his final season. "I hope that new people check it out," Braff says. "I run into people all the time who didn't watch the show and found it in syndication or on the DVDs, I-Tunes and all that stuff. If you haven't watched Scrubs
in the eight years in all its platforms yet, you should give it a try on ABC."
And if you're looking for a sign about the future, Braff jokes, "You know the show is over when you finally hear the janitor's name."
Tune into ABC on January 6 at 9 pm to check out the new digs and additions on Scrubs