'Scrubs' is sewn up — quietly

No fanfare for finale as NBC comedy preps for move to ABC

Like a tipsy party guest, it's going to be pretty tough for "Scrubs" to gracefully exit NBC.

The network's final "Scrubs" episode airs next week, concluding its run with the network after seven seasons. But you'd never know it from watching NBC or perusing the entertainment media.

At the conclusion of what was the comedy's third-to-last episode on NBC on Thursday, viewers were simply urged to check out the show's interactive features on NBC.com. The usual array of creator and cast interviews that usually accompany the final episodes of a concluding series are likewise largely absent.

The super low-key exit for "Scrubs" is tied to what's become the worst-kept secret in Hollywood: that the veteran comedy is moving to ABC. The long-pending deal for ABC to pick up 18 episodes of "Scrubs" for next season is effectively, pretty much, essentially, done.

Production has been under way for weeks, while cast and crew have been encouraged to keep quiet. A television studio producing a drama costing north of $1 million per episode without anybody saying who the episodes are for is considered highly unusual, if not a little weird.

ABC plans to confirm the acquisition at next month's upfront presentation.

Holding series pickup news until the upfronts is a typical network strategy this time of year. In the case of "Scrubs," ABC also is waiting for the show to end its Peacock run. NBC came out swinging when news of the series' move to ABC first leaked, accusing producer ABC Studios of violating NBC's right of first negotiation. The parties have since patched things up, but a premature celebration by ABC could inflame the situation.

That leaves NBC in the similarly odd position of promoting a farewell to a longtime series that's headed across the dial.

A network spokesperson said NBC will run promos for the final "Scrubs" episode and gamely bill it as "a season finale" rather than "a series finale." Back in 2001, WB Network called its last episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" the "WB series finale" rather than acknowledge the show had scored a second life on UPN.

In an interesting twist, "Scrubs' " stock has shown some life on NBC recently.

When paired with NBC's hit "The Office" since the conclusion of the strike, the medical comedy has outperformed its average last year by 17% with a 3.5 average rating among adults 18-49. But the show's real test will come when it moves to ABC, where it will likely have to help jump-start a freshman comedy. (partialdiff)
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