The Creator of Scrubs Diagnoses the State of TV Comedy
Series creator Bill Lawrence and his Scrubs
My name is Bill Lawrence
, and I like television comedy. (Way to go, Bill, the first step is admitting it.) The landscape of television is changing overnight. When I created Spin City
, there were comedies all over TV. Now there are hardly any (as opposed to 23 different CSI
s, including "CSI: Nantucket," arriving this mid-season).
Scrubs isn't on the fall schedule again. "Impossible," you say, "NBC has always treated the show so well in each of its 160 time slots." But alas, it's true. [It has since been announced by NBC that Scrubs will return Nov. 30, in the Thursday, 9 pm/ET time slot.] It's also true that young folks get more of their comedy fixes off of Internet sites like YouTube or Break.com.
Now, I'm not technically young, but I'm only 37. And it's not an old 37 — for instance, I make an effort to say "dude" a lot. And even though I'm basically computer illiterate, I'm trying to embrace the Inter-highway with something called Nobody's Watching.
A few years ago, I did a pilot with Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman for the WB called Nobody's Watching. The network picked up other, hysterical comedies instead, changing television history forever. Really? No. They offered lame shows, and their network went away. Our obsession for Nobody's Watching did not. Last summer, the show appeared on the Internet and was sort of revived by NBC. I say "sort of" because, unless I'm missing something, it's still not on TV. (NBC doesn't seem to be picking it up as much as they seem to be kicking it until it stops breathing.)
Anyway, we're making viral videos of the show, putting them online and hoping someone cares. If this works, it raises questions about the future of television. Will the Internet start to drive content, with networks posting pilots online and picking them up based on public response? Are there other uses for the Internet besides e-mail and porn? As I surf the Web, I'm sure of one thing: If the Internet had been this popular when I was a kid, I would not have seen daylight. Even now, as I play online poker until 2 am, I can barely picture my son's face. I wonder if he misses me.
I was going to quit the Internet cold turkey. Then recently, the unthinkable happened. A Nobody's Watching video we made — a parody of the popular Diet Coke-and-Mentos video — popped. More than two million people have watched it so far. Does this mean anything? Will this show finally be on TV? Should I tell my wife that I lost most of our savings online? I don't have the answers. But even if it's not us, someone's going to create a TV show on the Web that grabs hold of the zeitgeist and becomes a bona fide hit. No matter what dude pulls it off, I just hope that he or she doesn't think I look old.
To check out Nobody's Watching, go to nobodyswatching.tv.
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