Ratings tweener looks to squeeze in

Emmy's new breed: Scrubs

“I thought you were going to talk about shows that aren’t going to be nominated,” quips Bill Lawrence, creator and exec producer of NBC’s “Scrubs.”

Recently stung by the Peacock’s decision not to include the fifth season of his single-camera comedy on its fall sked, Lawrence can be forgiven if he’s a bit dour these days.

“But we could use it,” he says of what would be the show’s first big Emmy win.

Past Emmy nominations for Lawrence’s quirky hospital-set comedy, which stars Zach Braff, include several for directing and casting, as well as a few in technical categories.

The critical support has always been there — ” ‘Scrubs’ is smart in a way that’s almost scary,” says the Sacramento Bee’s Rick Kushman. Yet its audience is down a bit — total viewers declined to an average of 6.9 million last season, from 10.3 the year prior. And “Scrubs” enters this year of wide-open Emmy comedy opportunity with less buzz than years prior.

“Shows like ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Arrested Development’ are so ironically built. For older viewers used to the more simple rhythms of traditional sitcoms, it can feel kind of like they’re being made fun of,” says Kushman, trying to explain why such critically praised single-camera sitcoms haven’t become hits.

Still, despite the fact that “Scrubs” won’t be on the fall sked, the Peacock did order a full 24 episodes for later usage.

The series has never been in the precarious situation endured by “Arrested Development,” which likely would have been cancelled had it not been for its critical and kudos acclaim.

Perhaps things need to be a little worse for “Scrubs” to be noticed by Emmy this year.

“We’ve become one of those shows that isn’t a giant hit, but isn’t struggling enough for the critical community to say, ‘We’ve got to save this show,’ ” Lawrence says.

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