Scrubs' Move To ABC Put It Under Disney Scrutiny

As fondly remembered as "Scrubs" is today, it was never a huge hit at the time it was airing. The ratings were certainly strong enough in the beginning, but by season 6 the viewership numbers were nearly a third of what they were at the show's height in season 2. (Then again, season 2 of "Scrubs" aired directly after the timeslot for ratings juggernaut "Friends," which gave it a boost.) NBC was done with the show for good in the shortened season 7, but luckily ABC came along and picked it up for an eighth season. 

For the most part, "Scrubs" transitioned gracefully onto the new network. Most casual viewers bingeing the show today wouldn't even notice a difference between NBC "Scrubs" and ABC "Scrubs," but there were a few key changes. Mainly, they had to dial back the Todd (Robert Maschio). 

"You know," Zach Braff said in a 2018 cast reunion interview, "when we moved from NBC to ABC, 'cause it's Disney, we were no longer allowed to show Rob in his banana hammock." For those who need reminding, there was a running gag throughout the first seven seasons where we got to see the character of Todd proudly wearing nothing but a very revealing banana hammock. It was a weird joke, one that Disney apparently didn't have much patience for. 

"In the Bahamas episode," said showrunner Bill Lawrence, "he comes out and flexes on the beach and we had to blow up that shot because it showed the banana hammock." As Zach Braff sums it up sadly, "Rob's banana hammock is not Disney-approved."

A reverse Brooklyn Nine Nine situation

A decade later, "Brooklyn Nine Nine" went through a similar situation. The main difference is that instead of getting dropped by NBC, the police-based sitcom was instead cancelled by Fox, and NBC picked it up. The effect the network change had on the show was basically the opposite as what happened with "Scrubs," in that it was allowed to get a little raunchier with its content instead of having to tone it down. "We're allowed to bleep and blur [now]," series co-creator Dan Goor explained at the time. "Fox had a no bleeping and no pixelation policy." And sure enough, season 6 included a lot more cursing and a lot more pixelated nudity. 

So, how is a TV fan supposed to feel about NBC? On one hand, it would've been nice if they'd stuck by "Scrubs" throughout its first seven seasons, not constantly changing the timeslots around and letting it end its NBC run on a shortened, anti-climactic seventh season. But on the other hand, they may have redeemed themselves by saving "Brooklyn Nine Nine" from cancellation later on. It's also hard to know what to think of ABC, either: they may have saved "Scrubs," but they also denied millions of viewers the full view of the Todd that the writers intended for them to see. It's tough to forgive them for that. Either way, it's just nice to know that both "Scrubs" and "Brooklyn Nine Nine" got to end their runs on their own terms, even if it wasn't on the network where they started out.