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First look: ‘Scrubs’

Diverse cast, timeslot could help propel sitcom

Forget that hit song by TLC: “Scrubs” is the kinda comedy NBC thinks viewers will want to get next to — in a big way.

The Peacock has handed the Touchstone Television-produced medical laffer one of its best timeslots: Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., right after “Frasier.” Promos touting its virtues have been running since May.

Now all it has to do is become a big hit — a not altogether inconceivable notion, according to industry analysts.

“Along with ‘Undeclared’ on Fox, it was the best new comedy from a very weak batch of comedies,” says Steve Sternberg, senior VP and director of audience analysis for Gotham-based ad firm Magna Global USA.

Already generating early positive buzz from critics, the pilot for “Scrubs” frequently mixes moments of drama and comedy as it tries to tell the story of a baby-faced intern (Zach Braff) and his adventures in medicine. It’s a sometimes difficult emotional juxtaposition — but one “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence thinks he can pull off.

“I would never even dare to compare this show to (‘MASH’). It was one of my favorite shows of all time,” he says. “(But) one of the things they were able to do with the background of a hospital is have very funny slapstick moments, high comedy, but underneath it, the ability to reach another depth that maybe a traditional sitcom couldn’t.”

Another potential help for “Scrubs” in the ratings race: The almost effortless diversity of the show’s cast, which includes black and Latina actors in key roles. “One of the things I’ve always wanted to do in a TV show is have a black guy and a white guy be best friends, and not have that be the story,” Lawrence says.

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