Zach Braff, Scrubs
Tonight at 9 pm/ET, Scrubs
fans are in for quite a treat, as NBC presents a nearly all-musical episode of the medical comedy. There is singing and dancing, and even a ditty about doodie. TVGuide.com spoke with series creator Bill Lawrence
, a big musical-theater fan, to find out why he suddenly felt the urge to have his comedy break out into song. "The tough part for us is always trying to make it organic to the show," says Lawrence. "We wouldn't have done [a musical], except that our medical advisor on the show stumbled onto this case where somebody had an aneurysm and was hearing everything in music. Obviously, they weren't hearing an entire Broadway musical with singing and dancing, but for us in the world of Scrubs
, that works."
It didn't hurt that writer Deb Fordham kept pushing for the episode, and even found composers to do the music, much of which is an homage to legendary musicals (think Les Miserables). "Deb had all these people lined up, and it got to the point where we are like, 'All right, fine, now we have to do it,'" Lawrence laughs. "It was very cool. She wrote lyrics, and she gave all the different composers the rights to change the lyrics to fit the music. When we got the songs back, the writing staff went back into them and punched them up and made it hopefully even funnier." Tony-winning Avenue Q scribes Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx were tapped for the project, along with Paul F. Perry, who plays a member of lawyer Ted's on-screen a cappella group and also arranges a lot of the music on the show. "He's a crazily talented musician," Lawrence enthusiastically notes, "and he wrote a couple of the songs as well."
It didn't hurt that the cast was so talented, too. "I knew that Donald [Faison] and Judy [Reyes] were Broadway-style singers and dancers. I knew Sarah [Chalke] could dance, because she danced when she was young. I knew Zach [Braff] loved musical theater. I had actually seen Ken Jenkins in Big River on Broadway when I was a kid. Neil Flynn (Janitor) and John McGinley were the last two guys to admit that they'd done a lot of musicals and stuff, but being actors, they had. Johnny C. knew how to do a Gilbert and Sullivan number, and Neil had a big baritone voice."
While fans have all seen Donald Faison sing on the show whenever possible, there had to be at least one person who was nervous because he or she wasn't a strong vocalist, right? "The funniest thing was that the worst singer in the cast wasn't apprehensive at all," he laughs. "We always make fun of Sarah Chalke, because she loves music and loves musicals but can't carry a tune for her life. She was hyperexcited to sing, but we didn't give her all that much because she could break glass with that voice."
Turns out that Chalke is just fine and there is no need to guard your TV sets from her voice — though you may want to guard little ones from the aforementioned song about poop, even if it has been toned down a bit for network television. "The 'Poo Song' [aka Everything Comes Down to Poo] was much more graphic, and NBC made us change it after we recorded it," Lawrence reveals. "I thought it was really funny, because it was like South Park and they were singing about something vile in a very old-school Broadway musical kind of way."
Another song was left in its entirety on the cutting-room floor, but for good reason: They needed to make room for the irresistibly catchy "Guy Love" track. "We cut a song that was kind of good, but at a very late hour the writing staff decided that after six years we should do an incredibly powerful love ballad between J.D. and Turk," Lawrence notes. "We've said from the beginning [of the series] that we want them to be as in love with each other as two straight guys could possibly be. We added ["Guy Love"] at the end, and it is probably my favorite song. Even if people just tune in casually for the show, they might find it funny."
And being that it is a very Broadway episode, it is only appropriate that they found a Great White Way warbler, former Avenue Q star Stephanie D'Abruzzo, to play the patient afflicted with the brain aneurysm. "Deb heard through the Avenue Q guys [Marx and Lopez] that Stephanie was a psychotic fan of the show," says Lawrence. "It was very funny, because she came here and knew the entire history of Scrubs. She knew everything about everybody. She also has a killer voice."
Speaking of killer... "When she was here, Stephanie got to read one of the scripts that we were working on where a character dies," Lawrence adds. "She was all mad because it was a character she liked."
While Lawrence kept mum about which character would suffer that fate, he did say, "People aren't happy with me, but it is going to be good."
Let's hope so. Since it was recently announced that the show will be back for a seventh and final season, we were wondering if Lawrence has any plans on how he may top this episode. "That is the drag," he admits. "We've got to come up with something big next year, like a live episode or something funky like that. I haven't figured it out yet. We aren't doing anything that new. Buffy did the musical, and I thought they did it really well. We always use them as a benchmark, because they always seemed to do a cool freaky episode once in a while."
Sounds like a good plan in theory, but while Buffy brought on a teenage sister, they didn't try to deliver three pregnancies in one season. However, one of them was due to the fact that Lawrence's real-life wife, Christa Miller (Jordan), was actually pregnant and gave birth to their third child late last year. "What she is dreading is that when she comes back to work, she's got to still be pregnant," he sighs. "So she's like, 'Oh, just when I thought that was over with, I've got to come back and do this.' But we've got to get all the kids on the show done with so we can, like most TV shows, hide them and no one ever has to see them again."
OK, so what exactly is the plan to hide all those kids? "I think that Friends went too far. Like, did Ross and Rachel really have kids? Does Ross really have two kids, because we haven't seen that other one in forever. On the other hand, on [Everybody Loves]Raymond we never saw those f---ing kids, but they were always addressed. That is what we'll do. We only use Jack [Dr. Cox's toddler child] because he's funny and cute, and we have to subtitle him. Turk and Carla will have a baby, but they'll have a nanny. It is not going to become a Jump the Shark/cute-kiddies show."
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