More from "My Guest Appearance"   (page 2 of 5)


It's "My Fault"

It was the first of five shooting days for production number 320 (the 20th episode filmed for season three) for the 'Scrubs' episode entitled "My Fault", and I found the title fitting. "My Fault" is a phrase that my wife permanently associates with me, so it will always be easy to remember "my" episode.

We were delighted to see that the talented Richard Kind was the featured guest star, reprising his role as the hypochondriac Mr. Corman introduced in Season 2, Episode 12, "My New Old Friend". In this episode, his character returns for a full body scan to learn everything that's wrong with him. Richard Kind and me

Richard is probably best known to television viewers as Paul Lassiter, the clueless public relations director on 'Spin City'. His character was prominent in the three scenes set in admissions filmed before lunch. He had the best flub of the day, which caused most everyone on the set to crack up.

In Scene 14, when Dr. Cox wonders who would be gullible enough to have a full body scan, Mr. Corman comes through the door with "Hello Laverne ... Hello Shirl", a tribute to Squiggy's entrances on the classic 70's comedy "Laverne and Shirly".

It took a while to get the the shot right, since the camera and lighting guys had to make sure there were no undesirable reflections as Richard opened the door (some takes with one door and some with both) and there were numerous variations of Richard's delivery.

On about the eighth take, Richard came through the door and said in his perfect Squiggy voice, "Hello Shirl ... oh DARN IT!". It was clearly unintentional and everyone on the set just cracked up. Richard was very apologetic about the flub and it took a few minutes for things to settle down.

"John C." also had a few good gaffs in the same scene during one of his now infamous Dr. Cox monologues and repeatedly had trouble with the seemingly simple word "scan" which often became "scam". I wasn't following the script at the time, but it seemed like he delivered the dialogue differently on almost every take. When he missed the line, he'd stride back out to his starting point in the hallway just as intently as came in, even though the camera wasn't rolling, and take a copy of the sides from a nearby equipment cart to study. He struck us as the most "formal" of the cast - often in character and intensely focused, many times pacing just before takes, always working to improve the next shot. He had a couple of suggestions that Richard Wells incorporated into the morning scenes.

The other primary guest stars in the episode are Tara Reid ("Danni"), Scott Foley ("Sean"), and Bellamy Young ("Dr. Miller"). Scott and Bellamy were not on call for Monday, but semi-regular guests Aloma Wright ("Nurse Roberts") and Robert Maschio ("Todd") were.

Since most fans don't like spoilers and the production company knows where we live, I'm not going to give away specific plot details here, but major story threads involve Dr. Kelso's plans for full body scans, Carla and Turk's wedding arrangements, and J.D. and Elliot discussing pizza and TV. That last one may be a bit cryptic, but if I told you everything now, you wouldn't tune in to see me on the show, the ratings would drop through the floor and NBC would cancel the show. And, as my wife would surely point out, the end of one of the best comedies on television after only three seasons would then be "my fault", so (insert Dana Carvey doing George Bush, Sr. here) - "not gonna do it".

(Since the episode has aired and NBC renewed 'Scrubs' for fourth and fifth seasons after this was first published, all is well. And I'm sure by now you know the details of those story threads!)


My First Appearance

keyboard work It didn't take long for me to be placed in my first scene. One of the assistant directors called for some background action for the scene being filmed in admissions. Lyda came over and said that they could use me right now - they needed a doctor in the pharmacy typing into the computer. I'd only been on the set for about ten minutes and already I was part of the action (assuming you consider typing on a disconnected computer keyboard in the back of the pharmacy "action").

For five takes, I typed on the keyboard, occasionally looking up at an imaginary computer screen to make sure I was getting my orders in correctly. It didn't dawn on me until a few takes later that I shouldn't have actually been pressing the keys, but I don't think the boom mike was close enough to pick up the sound. My first appearance

I never saw how the shot was framed and apparently my wife and daughter didn't either - they were watching me intently though the side glass pharmacy window from their vantage point in Video Village around the corner and had not watched any of the takes from the lobby.

It didn't matter -- I'd successfully completed my first appearance.

(It was also my last appearance in the final episode. If you watch carefully when Dr. Cox and Mr. Corman are at the admission desk late in the story, you can see me in the background through the pharmacy door for a frame or two, just before a nurse walks behind Mr. Corman).


Appearances can be deceiving

Scrubs is filmed as a single-camera show, which is the method used by most television dramas. Using a single camera requires that every shot or point of view in a scene be set up, blocked, lit and filmed individually - there aren't multiple cameras to record a scene simultaneously from different angles. Each shot in single-camera show usually has multiple "takes" for a variety of reasons - an actor may have missed a cue or line, the director wants to try a slightly different angle or revise the blocking , there may be a problem with lighting or sound. In addition, the scenes for a given episode are shot out of order -- all the scenes using a particular set are filmed, then all the scenes on the next set, and so on. At Sea World

(Sometimes, this can be even more "movie-like". This year there was a story arc with scenes between Elliot and Sean at Sea World. Even though they were for multiple episodes, all were filmed during one long day in the fall of 2003 a few hours down the freeway in San Diego).

In contrast, sitcoms filmed before a studio audience feel more like a play. The shows are generally shot in sequence using three or four cameras capturing the shots and angles the director may want, though many scenes will usually require multiple takes.

The first three scenes filmed that morning were 34, 14, and 22, which were all set in admissions / hospital lobby. In fact, Scene 34, the first scene filmed, takes place at night, late in the story line. At the time, I didn't know if I was typing in scene 34 or 14, so I had to watch the episode to see if I was working "late" that day.   (See more on the shooting schedule here).
Zach hair day
Richard and John C. confer between scenes 34 and 14
while Richard (in back of Aloma) and Ken stand ready

On average, it takes five twelve to sixteen hour days to film an episode of 'Scrubs', which many may find surprising, given that a completed episode has only twenty-two minutes of broadcast footage (excluding supersized episodes) or so. The work certainly isn't as glamorous as it appears on TV and it can take hours to film a single scene. For most of Monday morning, it was a quarter to eight on the clock by the admissions desk.

Even though I knew how things worked, I was still fascinated by all the activity that took place between the actual filming and the incredible attention to detail required for each shot. There are over one hundred members of the staff and crew and, at times, it seemed like they were all reading or chatting or joking around. However, when something needed to be done, it was as if someone flipped a switch - folks became all business and flew into action. And when the bell rung to indicate that filming was about to start, the noise level quickly dropped to zero. This was clearly a dedicated cast and crew that enjoyed working together.

After I finished typing in the pharmacy, and we heard the "check the gate" order, Video Village relocated to the gift shop. We watched from there or from various spots around the lobby for the rest of the morning. In between shots, Richard Kind shared some wonderful stories about working with Michael J. Fox, who had been a big hit with the cast and crew a few weeks earlier.

We also spent a fair amount of time chatting with Ken Jenkins, whose personality is as nice as Dr. Kelso's is ornery, and executive story editor Debra Fordham, the primary writer for the episode. Sometime around 10 am, Zach and Donald returned from doing two and a half hours of satellite interviews promoting the show, though most questions were apparently about working with Michael J. Fox and his return to television.  

(The next evening the episode featuring the first of Fox's two guest appearances premiered to season-high ratings).

Between shots
Between shots in the hospital lobby

Note the camera on the left and the clapboard on the desk.
Director Richard Wells is wearing the red baseball cap.
Setting up
Setting up to film Richard Kind coming in the main entrance while
AD's Scott Harris and Franklyn Gottbetter confer on the right.
Richard Kind in Video Village
Richard Kind stops over to Video Village
You have tape!
Learning about actor blocking and all those tape colors
from 2nd assistant camera Kirsten Laube


The Pharmacist in Scene 22

Dr. Kelso looks toward the door Director Richard Wells decided that my big break - OK, just humor me here - would come in Scene 22, which was described in the sides as "Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso fight over Mr. Corman's scan", a description almost as long as the scene itself. As written, it took place at the desk, but Richard moved it to the pharmacy window.   When Lyda came over to tell me they were ready for me, I hopped down from my chair, signed a few autographs, and walked onto the set, this time taking my place front and center at the main window for the short, four-line scene.

Scene 22 opens with Dr. Kelso reviewing some paperwork with the pharmacist at the pharmacy window. Dr. Cox approaches and gloats over the apparent loss of Mr. Corman as a potential full body scan patient, but Kelso gets the last jab as Mr. Corman reaches the front door.

Ken and I had been talking over in Video Village a few minutes before and he said something funny that put me at ease. I asked him what I was supposed to be doing and he correctly explained that the pharmacist would pretty much be ignoring Dr. Cox and Mr. Corman. Armed with my extensive few hours of experience, it seemed like something I could handle.

Noting the camera position, I took a step to my right towards Ken, pushed my hair back, and got ready for the magic words:


At the Pharmacy with Kelso

I didn't count, but we must have filmed at least seven or eight takes from three different angles over the next fifteen or twenty minutes. Each time I heard the clapboard, I resisted the urge to look up at the camera and smile and just made sure I looked the same place (a fleeting glance to Dr. Cox as he approaches the pharmacy) and did the same thing (scribble in triplicate on a requisition form) during each take, all while trying not to fall over (there were power boxes and huge cables at my feet, leaving clear floor space for only one foot).

Between takes, I made sure my stethoscope still covered the picture on my id badge and checked the camera position. I took a step back to my left after the first or second take when I realized that I'd be hidden from view as Ken turned to see Richard at the door.  

(As it turned out, another half-step or so to the left would have been perfect).
Dr. Cox approaches the pharmacy

After the primary shot at the window was finished, Ken and I stayed put while both the shot with Richard Kind leaving and the scene's final one with Richard turning back at the front door were set up, lit and filmed. When the last take was complete, I put the the requisition form in my pocket, received congratulations from Ken and rejoined my family in the gift shop.

Since I never saw the takes on the monitors in Video Village and didn't know what the editors would eventually do, I figured I'd be lucky to be on screen for a second or two as John C. approached. If not, I'd be just another of the thousands with their best work left on the cutting room floor.

This still taken from the episode (right) shows one of the two cuts in the scene featuring Ken, myself and John, so I was indeed lucky and was on screen for about half of the sixteen-second scene.  

Scrubs Season 3 DVD cover Season 1 and Season 2 of 'Scrubs' were released on DVD in 2005 ... those sets were welcome additions to my DVD collection, but what I'd really like is Season 3 on DVD ... which looks like it will be released in May 2006!

(My copy of the broadcast episode has a winter storm warning crawl along the bottom of the screen in multiple places, so I'll be first in line for that DVD set!)

I used the same form the entire scene.
This was one of the few forms that didn't
have the"Sacred Heart" text or logo on it

I noted that Kelso wanted "some sort of medicine"


Dr. Kelso and Dr. Cox stand at the desk as Mr. Corman enters from the hallway and heads to the door.
Well, Bobbo, you hooked him, you got him in the boat, but gosh darn it if he didn't get away.
J.D. (V.O.)
Because victory can be snatched away at the last second ...
(Calling out to Mr. Corman)
Mr. Corman, your full body scan is on the house.
Mr. Corman stops dead in his tracks.
I'm listening ...
My official Scrubs mug shot!
Between takes Lyda came over, took a couple of polaroids,
wrote the scene information on one and handed it to me.

The clips below were recorded during various takes for the scene. The two on the right were shot from the hall behind the nurse's station, though none of the actual shots were filmed from there. The angles used in the takes for the show can be seen in frames taken from the broadcast footage.

Click on the movie icons movie icon or associated images below to launch the clip.
Note: These are very large AVI files, each between 2.8MB and 7.8MB in size.

Ken Jenkins (Dr. Kelso) and me at the start of scene 22   The camera pans by Play video clip
Mr. Corman walks by Play video clip This was shot from the "Gift Shop" across the room,
so it has a different perspective than the other clips.
Dr. Kelso, Dr. Cox, Dr. Bilson Play video clip  
During filming, Director Richard Wells and others sitting in Video Village could see how shots were framed for both standard broadcast and HDTV by watching the monitors. There were also headsets on each chair, used to listen to the dialogue as recorded by the sound techs. Video monitor view 1 Play video clip  Play video clip

A visit to the set of 

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
< Previous      Next >

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.
Unless otherwise identified, all text, pictures and video on this site is copyright 2004 by and may not be downloaded or otherwise used without written permission. All ownership claims are subordinate to those of the production company, Touchtone Television and NBC. All rights to characters and images from Scrubs are reserved by Touchtone Television Productions. See terms of use here.

Comments? Send me an e-mail.

This page best viewed in a maximized browser window at a resolution of 1024x768 or better.
Page  last updated Monday March 13, 2006