Eeeeeeeeagle! Although he has been gone for some time, Scrubs star Zach Braff is soaring back onto our TV screens in the near future. The indie Renaissance man will star in and direct the new comedy series Start Up, which ABC just claimed in a bidding war. That means the actor-writer-director will be returning to the network that aired the last two seasons of Scrubs, the medical comedy in which Braff starred in his career-making role.
This marks Braff’s first real return to the small screen, after he dabbled in small-time appearances while working on bigger film projects like Wish I Was Here and Jame’s Franco’s upcoming In Dubious Battle. Scrubs had a huge following in its heyday, despite some mixed final seasons and a late-in-life network switch from NBC to ABC, so it’s likely that fans of the Sacred Heart staff will be interested to hear more about this developing project.
The new TV series, based on the podcast of the same name by Alex Blumberg, is described by Deadline, as:
“a show about all the things that happen — the good, the bad and the ugly — when a guy (Braff) in his mid-30s with a wife and two kids makes the crazy decision to quit his good job and dive into the brave new world of starting a business.”
ABC bought Start Up as a put pilot, meaning that it’s almost guaranteed the show will be picked up, as the network would face monetary penalties to the studio producing the series if it didn’t. Braff is slated to direct the series pilot, but it’s also likely that the show’s name will change in the near future, since it’s identical to that of a new drama series on Crackle. Braff will co-executive produce Start Up along with former Scrubs executive producer Matt Tarses, making the series the latest in a string of podcast-to-TV adaptations, with recent news of Serial and Lore adaptations in the works. Podcasts had as of yet been an untapped resource for adapted work, so it’s no surprise to see the idea finally taking off now that showrunners have caught on to the mass appeal of the medium.
It will certainly be interesting to see how well a podcast like Start Up translates to teleplay. Perhaps, if the show takes off, it will turn into a Game of Thrones type adaptation, where the adapted content comes into its own after surpassing the available source material. It does seem like Start Up has a lot of potential, as a single-camera comedy, though, even if the source material is relatively scant — and even if Zach Braff’s “mid-30s” are well behind him.
The potentially sad side of podcast adaptations is that, well, they are adaptations. When writers are turning to an entirely new medium for ideas, what does that mean for the TV landscape, which is already so void of original programming? In an industry where sometimes nothing feels fresh, will podcast adaptations add to or detract from the clutter? And if they do, will Start Up be the show to do so? This creative team makes us hopeful, but we’ll just have to see how the project develops.
Start Up is in early development, and the pilot has no premiere date as of yet.