Tuesday, November 16, 2004

If I can get real surgeons to call me back, maybe it'll work on Dr. Turk

By now, you've probably heard that you can in fact call Turk. Which is to say, the mobile number that the fictional Dr. Turk obtained on last week's "Scrubs," 916-CALL-TURK (actually, said the character, "...it's CALL-TUR. But I'm hoping people will dial the K anyway").

So it's a real number. The people who make the show bought the phone, bought a mobile contract with the number, and the phone sits on the set, taking messages. Cast, crew, and production staff will pick up the phone and chat with fans, if the mood strikes. If I were less lazy and more Blog-smart, I would link you some examples of the hilarity which has already ensued. Somebody got "Ted, the lawyer." Somebody got the guy who plays Dr. Kelso, also in character. Apparently it's a fun diversion, and a chance for actors to screw with the minds of their audience. From first-hand experience, I understand how deeply amusing and satisfying this can be.

Between this and an NPR "All Things Considered" interview I listened to recently, where show creator Bill Lawrence and star Zach Braff spoke for like 25 minutes, I had to call Turk my own self this morning. See, Lawrence has a good friend who really is named Dr. John Dorian, and really did go through training as a student and a resident, all the while remaining (from his friend's point of view) essentially the same lovable goofball he always was. The interview was great; at one point, Lawrence summed the whole thing up by saying that the real JD was this guy he'll always remember with an empty cardboard beer case on his head, and it's a special kind of horrifying to imagine being wheeled in to a hospital and having such a person be the one telling you, "don't worry about a thing, sir. You're in good hands."

Lawrence claimed in the interview that the show has yet to do anything medical, any little workaday moment that touches on the hospital/ doc/ nurse experience, that is not directly derived or distilled from somebody's real-life experience. The real-world medical community has embraced "Scrubs" like no other show (I can vouch for this myself), and there's some kind of an informal deal going where show-creator-people's doctor friends, family, and random party guests can submit ideas and anecdotes to Lawrence and the writers, often times having a character named after them for the trouble.

Obviously, the combination of my performing/writing background, coupled with my love of the Internet and new modes of communication and community - not to mention my gigantic ego - make it seem to me like a great idea for the show to have some minor, one-episode character just like me. Hey, I see Internal Med and Surgery docs all the time, when they have to come to the ED for a consult. They may not see me, but still...

I envision a few different scenarios that could work, and one or two of them don't even require building a new set. (Although, they might have one. In season 1 or 2, they did a five-second cutaway to the ED at Sacred Heart. There was a hippie surfer with a tie-dye t-shirt and long white coat, giving a differential with more hedges than the Queen's garden. That was funny.) Anyhow, you could call somebody down, or a tech scutmonkey like me might come up to the floor or the ICU, with a bag of personal belongings for a patient. Or a patient. Hilarity might ensue.

So this morning, I parked my car near the hospital, and started walking toward Day Job (I work in the ED later, from 5pm to 11pm). Once I was off hospital grounds, I no longer felt quite as funny about calling a fake doctor at a fake hospital. I expected to leave a message. I was prepared to talk to a live person, should anyone be up and on set at 5am Cali time.

But the mailbox is full, or vm has been turned off. Dang.

However, it said I could leave a call-back number. Hmmm.

So, what the hell. It's not the trauma pager, but it'll do.

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