Add John C. McGinley to the “yes” column should “Scrubs” ever be revisited on TV. If creator Bill Lawrence is in, so is McGinley. “I love Billy, so if Billy’s doing it, [I am],” said McGinley, who recently visited the TURN IT ON podcast and current star of IFC horror comedy “Stan Against Evil.” “I’d be very surprised if some variation of that doesn’t realize fruition.”
McGinley said he believed the show’s other cast members would be in — as long as it wasn’t a traditional, 22-episode order. “I don’t think it would look like a season,” he said, noting that most of the “Scrubs” alums are busy with other projects. “I think it would be something different… I don’t know what that looks like, however. A two-hour movie? That would be fun.”
Of course, in this age of reboots, reunions, and remakes, McGinley admitted he’s torn over whether it should be revisited. “We did almost 200 episodes of ‘Scrubs,'” he said. “If you didn’t wring that towel dry of everything you wanted to get out of those characters, it begs the question: What were you waiting for?”
McGinley puts Lawrence and “Stan Against Evil” creator Dana Gould in the same pantheon as legendary TV producer Norman Lear, who helped inspire Stan Miller, McGinley’s character on “Stan Against Evil.” Stan is a former sheriff who battles demons — both his own, internal ones, and the actual ones threatening to destroy his town (and the world). McGinley said spending time with Lear has been one of the thrills of his career.
“I met Norman, and I immediately started blurting out how we’ve crafted a TV series, and for the protagonist we’ve borrowed liberally from Carroll O’Connor and Norman’s rendition of this overbearing patriarch [in “All in the Family”],” McGinley said. “I wanted to pay Norman all respect and tell him he is creatively and spiritually and emotionally helping me to authentically create [Stan].”
So when IndieWire asked McGinley to name his favorite TV episode of all time, he came back with one from “All in the Family”: The Season 2 episode, “The Elevator Story.” Listen below.
“All in the Family” was relatively new when “The Elevator Story” aired on New Year’s Day 1972. It was the first episode to take place entirely outside the Bunker house, as Archie (Carroll O’Connor) takes Edith (Jean Stapleton), Gloria (Sally Struthers), and Mike (Rob Reiner) out to dinner to celebrate Edith’s birthday. But when he realizes he forgot to mail an overdue bill, Archie races to pay it — and gets stuck in an elevator with an African-American businessman (Roscoe Lee Browne), a Puerto Rican man (Hector Elizondo) with a wife about to go into labor, and a secretary (Eileen Brennan).
At the time O’Connor was unhappy with the episode, and initially refused to film it. But it’s Archie’s vulnerability that drew McGinley to it. “Archie is a guy who operates so surgically in the world of ‘All in the Family’ as an initiator [of action], with Jean Stapleton always being a reactor,” he said. “[Everyone is always reacting to] Archie just spitting out initiations. In this, he can’t; he’s trapped. So he becomes this observer. And all of a sudden you see what a sublime, layered actor Carroll O’Connor is. I didn’t know Carroll O’Connor, but he impacted me pretty dramatically growing up.”
McGinley said he’s drawn to “wounded men” as characters — like his “Scrubs” character, Dr. Cox. “He was the ultimate damaged alpha male,” McGinley said. “That’s why he was so interesting. There were a lot of missing parts for that guy … I never got the Ken and Barbie [role]. I got the dirty uncle. And that’s a better role. For a little while, you really want to get the Ken and Barbie guy. That ship sailed. And it’s liberating.”
And that’s what drew McGinley to “Stan Against Evil.” The show has a horror mythology, but McGinley is intrigued by what fuels this character’s sour disposition.
“Stan loses his wife of 27 years and his job of 26,” he said. “He’s been fired from his job and he has nothing. What’s interesting and what writers can write are damaged characters… I can turn a joke, and Dana can write them. But what’s going to be interesting about this guy is that he’s hurt.”
As for where the show goes from here, McGinley hints, “Dana did this unbelievably risky thing with the last two episodes that is going to leave everybody who watches Stan scratch their head.”
“Stan Against Evil” airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on IFC.
IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now on TV — no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.
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