When news of Fake Doctors, Real Friends, a Scrubs rewatch podcast hosted by everyone’s favorite doctor duo first hit the airwaves – Zach Braff and Donald Faison were skeptical as to whether they would be able to garner an audience for a show they hadn’t seen in 20 years.
First premiering in 2001, Scrubs ended in 2010 after 9 seasons. Although a lot of fans don’t count past the 8th season, as Scrubs: Med School was a failed attempt at focusing on different characters entering medical school, with occasional cameos from JD, Turk, Elliot and everyone’s favorite cynical doc Jo (Eliza Coupe).
The podcast Fake Doctors, Real Friends premiered on March 31st 2020. It gave us all the warm and fuzzy feeling we all needed as the world entered an unseasonably long period of time stuck inside our homes. Zach and Donald’s enduring 20+ year friendship budding from Scrubs, is still as strong as ever after all these years. Zach and Donald’s hilarious and fun-filled relationship is tempered by their helpful podcast producers, DJ Danl Goodman (audio mixing, rap-making, super smart wizkid – if you’d like a taste of what DJ Danl can do, listen to 4×20.2 where he takes us through how he conceives the beat for Donald’s recap raps), and Joelle Monique (Culture Critic for the BBC, The Hollywood Reporter, NPR, Polygon, ET, among others) also joins us as the bi-boss lady keeping Donald and Zach on assignment throughout the podcast.
In each episode, Zach and Donald discuss an episode of Scrubs, and share behind-the-scenes tidbits and funny anecdotes. But the fun really starts when they bring in cast and crew as guests to discuss the episodes with them (when the guests remember to watch of course!). Zach and Donald’s banterful behaviour is balanced tremendously by the guests who share their point-of-view from an ensemble actor or crew’s perspective.
But oftentimes, the most fun comes from the surprise guests who DON’T watch the episodes beforehand. Granted, this has only happened a handful of times. But when it does, they often end up being some of the best episodes of the podcast. My personal favorites include 4×09 which included consummate hypochondriac Harvey Corman, played masterfully by the hilarious Richard Kind where he gives life lessons including auditioning and working with super star actors like Michael J Fox (who also cameos in Scrubs for 2 episodes as a doctor and surgeon with severe OCD). 209.5 sees the gruff, cynical, Hugh-Jackman-hating John C. McGinley (Dr. Cox) who watches the wrong episode for that week, and instead delights us with tales from filming Platoon among his extensive filmography and other important life lessons.
Other iconic guests on the podcast include frequent appearances from creator and showrunner Bill Lawrence who affectionately refers to the podcast as his own as well as coming up with his own ‘Interrupting Bill’ running gag where he interrupts Zach and Donald throughout the podcast as the omnipresent narrator he is. Producer Randall Winston (who played Leonard, the hook-hand-wearing security guard at Sacred Heart) lends us his producing wisdom. Christa Miller joins the podcast as Dr. Cox’s wife Jordan (and Bill Lawrences’ ACTUAL wife!).
Tom Cavanagh joins as JD’s big brother Dan who arrives at Sacred Heart to drop some hard truths on occasion. Neil Flynn who played the quick-witted Janitor and JD’s nemesis (who’s name we never find out throughout the show’s entirety) also joins the podcast for an episode where they tell us that Neil was so good at improv, the script would often just say “whatever Neil says”.
The “Real JD” or Dr. Jonathan Doris (serving as the inspiration for JD’s character) provides us with the source of Bill’s stories and plotlines for Scrubs. Zach, Donald and Sarah Chalke’s stand-in’s also graced us with their presence in the 4th season telling us what it’s like to do all that standing around in big bright lights waiting for the actors to get back from make-up. And finally, the always technologically inept Sarah Chalke who played everyone’s favorite Dr. Elliot Reid.
The podcast is not afraid to shy away from difficult issues also. During the important conversation around Black Lives Matter after the unlawful killing of George Floyd in May last year, they dedicated an entire episode of the podcast to aspects of the show that haven’t aged well and the mistakes they made during the show’s tenure.
The show isn’t afraid to depart from its normal episodic format either, as Zach and Donald share success stories from their early days of Hollywood, talk with their mums for Mothers’s Day and give us a peek behind the curtain on some of the music from the show. Including Joshua Radin (3×14) who produced heart-wrenching hits such as “Winter”, “Closer” and a tear-inducing cover of the titular “Sesame Street” song in the show’s 8th season.
The podcast also spawned a virtual live show midway through the podcasts 4th season, with the episode focusing on quarantine within the hospital. It culminated in a joyful few hours alongside Colin Hay, frontman of Men at Work, who cameoed and sang in Scrubs, and Zach’s girlfriend, stellar actress Florence Pugh made a martini and joined in the usual shenanigans we have come to expect.
Overall, this podcast has allowed Scrub fans to watch the show along with Zach and Donald with a fresh pair of eyes. For the most part, they are seeing these episodes for the first time in 20 years. Their truthful reactions and fond memories helped them garner a loyal and passionate audience. We love the show, as do they – and that’s what makes it so entertaining to listen to.
With all the familiar actors showing up on Fake Doctors, Real Friends with Zach and Donald, you may want to give I Know That Face a try – the only podcast dedicated to character actors.
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