Despite not having a good cleaning crew on staff, 'Scrubs' has paid great attention to detail in the areas used for filming. Patient rooms are just as you would expect to see in a real hospital, carts with new medical supplies abound, as does surprising amount of medical gear, much of which was brought in by the production company. Sacred Heart logos are painted on most of the glass doors and panels, there are show specific signs to augment the original ones left by the medical center, all the desks all have Sacred Heart paperwork, and exposed notebook binders list Sacred Heart patient lists and procedures.
We learned some interesting background on the production while walking around the other three floors and saw all the familiar sets - the various nurses' stations, doctor's lounge, the patient rooms, the ER ward used in the title sequence, the long hospital corridors you'd never find on a sound stage and the surgical ward. The building never had a full operating room, so additional equipment had been brought in to make the set look authentic. We also saw Kelso's office, though the door with Kelso's name stenciled on it is on the first floor, across from the infamous "Kelso in memoriam" portrait. When you look at it up close, it looks like the large oil painting it seems to be, but Ken Jenkins told us earlier that it was actually a digital image that the art department worked their magic on using Photoshop and lacquer.
All of the non-hospital sets are on site too, either in the medical center or the adjacent building that had the facade of a police precinct on it that day. We had actually driven in that second lot when we first arrived, trying to figure out where the studio entrance was. I remember thinking that a police station with no police cars around was a little unusual. As it turned out, it was no more unusual for Hollywood than walking around the corner of a hospital corridor into Dr. Cox's penthouse apartment.
There wasn't the ambient lighting there was elsewhere in the building and since they weren't in use that day, there was just enough light to see the set - a living room with packages of diapers and a plasma TV, and a dining area next to some false walls that provided an illusion of more. We didn't see Elliot's apartment, but did see the winner of the "anti-Good Housekeeping seal of approval" - Turk and J.D.'s apartment with the sofa that would make a college dorm room proud, a messy kitchen and bathroom, and an unusual bedroom. Ignoring the light stands and other equipment, things looked normal until you looked to the right of the bed only to find a vast open space. This was one of the swing set areas, so presumably that open space was used for other sets as needed.
We found the pink carpet had already been installed in an area that was going to be used as the child's bedroom set for the Sacred Heart commercial featured in the episode and there were stuffed animals abound. According to the pink preliminary call sheet that Lyda had given us earlier, that scene was being filmed Tuesday after lunch, just before tour for the international press. It would have been interesting to watch, but we would have missed the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Jen wouldn't have met her second heartthrob of the week on the "Still Standing" stages at CBS. Zach Braff (Monday), Taylor Ball (Tuesday), and Conner Trineer (Wednesday) are her favs, in that order, at least for now.
We saw a set previously used as a pediatric ward and then to the third floor where the original medical center pediatric ward had been, which now housed the dialogue-recording studio. We peeked in, as they were just wrapping up. It would have been nice to see some post production activity, but it was late in the day, so there wasn't much going on. (There is an interesting article on 'Scrubs' post-production and how the show is edited on the apple.com site).
We passed some furniture marked for Elliot's apartment and a number of production offices. Mail boxes beside the doors held a copy of the week's script with specific notes for the various departments. Other former offices were now dressing rooms, wardrobe and makeup and there were offices for casting and the writing staff down on the first floor as well.
We went back downstairs to the kitchen for some dinner - fried chicken, mac and cheese and some wonderful broccoli and green beans. My wife picked up a 7-Up! for the road, which somehow never was opened and now sits in our kitchen as one of our more unusual vacation souvenirs.
Wendy went to check to see if she could give us a full script. We went out to the lobby set to take a few more pictures and chatted with a couple of the crew members who had joked around with us throughout the day. The guys said that they'd see us tomorrow, but we told them we were done. Unlike Richard's, our day was over. Wendy met us a few minutes later - alas, no script - and we thanked her for our behind the scenes visit.
We had a wonderful time and great fun behind the scenes, meet very kind and hardworking people, and seen a lot of unexpected things in the building. Perhaps the most surprising was the number of dogs in the building - 'Scrubs' is obviously a pet friendly workplace - and there were others outside during lunch, including one tiny dog wearing a wonderfully detailed outfit. I think Sarah's dog Lola had been with us earlier in wardrobe, but I'm not sure if it her or not.
(Dayna Devlin from "Extra" TV noticed the dogs as well and mentioned them in her story on her appearance the next day filming a one-line cameo as a nurse. That's her between Zach and Sarah in a frame from the broadcast episode to the right).
Dogs were just another entry on the "things you don't expect to see in a hospital" list along with a PacMan video game, a pinball machine, wardrobe racks, camera equipment blocking the hallways, scaffolding, massive lights, all kinds of cables, boom mikes and battery packs, apartments, a cafeteria full of food that nobody eats, eclectic merchandise in the gift shop, racks full of outdated newspapers, and a very interesting air conditioning system.
The east exit door closed behind us for the last time as we walked back to our parking space, which now seemed much further away than it had been that morning.
As we got to the car, we noticed one billboard illuminating the darkness with a message that we found surprisingly humorous and ironically appropriate, since it seems you can find almost anything on EBay.
Sometimes even a once in a lifetime visit to the fascinating fictional world of Sacred Heart Hospital and it's lovable, but slightly off-beat staff.
In March 2004, I put up the first version of this web site, after volunteering to write something up on the walk-on experience for the terrific Scrubs fan site, My Own Personal 'Net Thing. I was going to write up something to capture my thoughts about the set visit anyway and it's not hard to wrap some html tags around text, so it was no big deal.
I figured it would get a hundred hits or so - who would care that some guy they don't know appeared briefly on a TV show? Well, I clearly underestimated the passion of the Scrubs fan base and the interest in information on the show. The site has already generated thousands of hits, briefly appearing at the top of the Google search results for 'Scrubs'.
Since the site went up, I've received a surprising number of Emails from people connected with the show and fans from around the world with comments and questions, including many of those in the updated FAQ section below. I'm glad that so many of you have enjoyed reading about our experience.
Visiting the set was a fantastic experience though only part of the fun - there was still the question of how the final episode would turn out. We knew it would air sometime in the spring and it seemed that date would never come. Of course it did - the big day was Thursday, April 22nd - three days after we watched the 'Still Standing' episode we'd seen filmed the day after our set visit. There was no red carpet for my network broadcast premiere, just freshly-popped popcorn and a big-screen TV.
We hadn't told many of our family and friends about the set visit and were surprised by the response the night the episode aired. Our phone rang constantly, as those on the east coast saw the broadcast before we did. It took a little of our anticipation away, as we learned I was quite visible in both the cafeteria and the pharmacy scenes. I got a lot of good-natured kidding and comments, including two of my favorites: "Did you know there was a doctor on Scrubs tonight that looked just like you?" and "You weren't in the background, you WERE the background". (I'd like to apologize to my folks, who knew that I was going to be on the show, but didn't realize I was going to be on that night. My mother screamed when she saw me on TV and it took them days to find the poor cat).
We got off the phone just before the 8:29 mountain start time, with Tivo already recording the NBC feed. I think this was the first time all year that we actually watched a program live. My wife had made me promise not to pause or review any of the scenes until we'd seen the episode all the way through. That didn't last long, as she had me back up scenes almost right away.
We had a blast watching the show. It was a lot fun reconciling our on set experience with what we saw on the screen and watching scenes we had only read about in the sides or on the Tuesday call sheet. Since we knew the storyline, we knew when and where to look for me in the show. We watched to see which parts of Monday's shoot made it into the final cut and which didn't and tried to see if we could figure out which cuts were from which takes. As expected, some of the dialogue used was different than that in Debra Fordham's script, a number of the scenes were shortened, the hospital looked amazingly clean, and the pink carpet was nowhere to be found.
We thought the voice of the little boy sounded a lot like that of director Richard Wells. It was uncredited, so I don't know if it was indeed his voice, but it was pretty cool anyway. We wondered if the Kelso billboard had been superimposed on the Ebay one across the street and realized we'd totally forgotten about the bar and restaurant sets on our February tour. We hadn't seen the pastry shop either, but I'm sure that was built on a swing set later in the schedule. It didn't matter - along with millions of other viewers on that Thursday night, we saw Dr. Bilson eating lunch and working in the pharmacy and that completed our experience.
Twenty-nine minutes later, my few seconds of Sacred Heart immortality literally ended with a bang as NBC promoted its upcoming "10.5" miniseries about a massive west coast earthquake. As San Francisco sank into the Pacific ocean, I got a congratulatory hug from my daughter and kissed her good night.
"My Guest Appearance" was over. At least until summer reruns.
(Below are some frames from the broadcast footage from the four scenes I filmed, along with some comments, followed by more behind the scenes pictures and answers to some frequently asked questions).
Episode 66 - "My Fault"
Broadcast scene shots
All of the above screen shots were taken from the April 22, 2004 NBC broadcast of the Scrubs "My Fault" episode.
(Continue to the next page for more behind the scenes pictures and FAQs)
This site was updated after the episode was first broadcast. The original version (without spoilers) can be found here.
For more information on [Scrubs], visit the show's NBC web site, the production company website or this terrific Scrubs fan site.
Broadcast images and text of Scene 22 from Scubs episode "My Fault" copyright 2004 by Touchtone Television.
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Page last updated Monday May 10, 2004