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Ranking the Shows I Watch – 6: Childrens Hospital

10 Nov

I was about to write that at it’s heart Childrens Hospital is a stupid show, but that’s not really true.  Not that I don’t occasionally enjoy stupid humor, everyone does, even if it’s not my favorite variety.   That said, that’s not really what Childrens Hospital is, even if there are some parts that are pretty stupid.  What Childrens Hospital is based upon is rather silly humor (I actually hate the word silly which should let you know how much I like this show if I’m using it as priase here).  It’s not smart or witty or urbane or crackling with banter like other favorite shows of mine (Party Down, for example).  It’s ridiculous, it’s absurd, and it’s downright hilarious.

Childrens Hospital is an 11-minute long show which takes place in a fictional Children’s Hospital somewhere in Brazil and centers on a group of doctors who must deal with a different set of ridiculous circumstances each week.  Rob Corddry, the creator, plays a clown doctor who dispenses the healing power of laughter, a ploy, which every once in a while seems like it might be overused, but just before you get tired of it, they reel it back for a couple of episodes.  Other doctors are played by Ken Marino, Rob Huebel,Lake Bell, Erin Hayes and Malin Akerman. Megan Mullaly plays the handicapped head of doctors who for some reason everyone is sexually attracted to, and Henry Winkler plays the hospital administrator who everyone hates on.

One of my favorite sequences in Children’s Hospital occurs at the end of an episode themed as a documentary of what is supposed to be the show’s last episode.  Let’s step back a minute actually.  This is one of my favorite episodes of the show, and it’s a show that makes you actually laugh out loud.  The cast all have ridiculous fake names as they’re introducing themselves as the actors who play their character in this faux documentary, and Megan Mullaly comes out with an absolutely absurd british accent while Malin Akerman only speaks Swedish and has to read transliterations of English for the show which she doesn’t actually understand the meaning of.

Rob Corddry’s character – no, not his actual character, him playing the fake actor that plays his character, is the only one of the cast who wants the show to continue and he convinces a woman to create a campaign to save Childrens Hospital by convincing the woman that the show is an actual Children’s Hospital.

Okay, so the part I actually wanted to mention was just at the end of the episode when we see fake outtakes of the filming of Childrens Hospital.  The actors in turn pronounce a couple of words wrong over and over again.  Elbow and as rhyming with “Wow”, operation as if it were operacion and  Penicillin as “Penis” illin.  Writing it down doesn’t do it justice.  It’s a bit that really needs to be heard (as can be in the video below – the whole episode is great but skip to 9:58 for this part).  It’s silly.  There’s no great subtlety to it, there aren’t many levels to the joke.  But it’s utterly hilarious.  And that’s really hard to do, and yet it’s something Childrens Hospital has managed to do especially well.

It’s not mean comedy, like South Park.  It’s not awkward comedy like The Office.  It’s not even the newfound “comedy of nice” that Parks and Recreation is being proclaimed as.  It shares with Community the spirit of making style homages, but it does it in a very different way.  Community’s homages are far more sophisticated and layered, and that’s great. Childrens Hospital’s though are far more utterly ridiculous and over the top, and that’s great too.

Guest stars are aplenty as well.  Kurtwood Smith has a particularly hilarious turn as a representative of cancer – Ken Marino’s character cures cancer, and Smith tries to menace him into holding back the cure.

Why It’s This High:  It’s silly in a good way, and constantly zanily hilarious – a New York Magazine article compared it to Leslie Nielson’s old short-lived Police Files, and it’s an apt comparison

Why It’s not higher:  There’s not enough of it, it’s probably best in the Adult Swim 11 minute format, though that’s not really a knock against it.

Best Episode of the Most Recent Season:  (Note:  I made this choice before the third season aired – for the now most recent season, we’ll say “The Chet Episode” but there’s five or six in contention) It’s a tough call – “Hot Enough For You?” – the semi-Do the Right Thing parody episode is wonderful, and contains the Kurtwood Smith bit I referred to earlier, but considering I spent even more time talking about the faux documentary episode “End of the Middle” it will have to be that one.