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Why isn't 'Scrubs' a bigger hit?

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162837__scrubs_lCongrats to Scrubs, which tonight airs its 100th episode, a milestone marked by no fewer than nine articles in today’s Variety. (The best are here, here, here, and here.) It’s an achievement all the more remarkable for the fact that the show’s never been a huge ratings success despite its critical acclaim and cult of fans. It hasn’t helped, of course, that NBC has shifted its timeslot seven times in five seasons.

Creator Bill Lawrence grumbles that NBC has little incentive to treat the show with respect, since the network doesn’t own a piece of it. Scrubs is produced by Disney’s Touchstone Television; in fact, Lawrence tells The Hollywood Reporter, he could imagine the show eventually moving to Disney’s ABC. To be fair, while NBC could have tossed the modestly rated show many times over the years, the network (which needs all the sitcom success it can muster) neither killed the show nor gave it away. Plus, the current timeslot seems to be working well.

So the question is: What can be done to make Scrubs a bigger hit? You wouldn’t want the producers to play down the show’s smarts and quirkiness; similarly, eye-candy guest stars like Heather Graham and Tara Reid haven’t really raised the show’s profile either. The current timeslot success may falter as American Idol picks up steam, but while the show might seem a more natural fit for Thursdays, could it withstand one more move?

If you ran NBC (or, for that matter, Entertainment Weekly), what would you do to attract viewers to Scrubs?

Originally posted January 24 2006 — 8:08 PM EST

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