Tag Archives: Childrens Hospital

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2015 Edition: 30-27

27 Apr

All comedy all the time in this entry. Here we go.

Intro here and 58-55 here and 54-51 here and 50-47 here and 46-43 here and 42-39 here and 38-35 here and 34-31 here.

30. The Mindy Project – 2014: 30

The Mindy Project

It’s easy to bash shows for what they’re not, rather than what they are. I’m as guilty of this as anyone; I can’t really complete a sentence about Brooklyn Nine-Nine without talking about how it could be better, even though I watch it every week and laugh. For years, and with good reason, there were complaints from others as well as myself that the Mindy Project was solid but felt unfinished, like subsequent and slowly improving drafts rather than a final product. In particular, the show had  a problem assembling solid supporting characters. But sneakily during the end of its run on Fox, and onto Hulu, it’s become a smart, funny, rom com with one of the great sitcom relationships, between Danny and Mindy. In so many shows I complain about the two leads getting together, and I was definitely initially doubtful here but when it works, it works, and in Mindy it works and propels the show forward. Oh, and Morgan is fantastic; no blurb is complete without mentioning that.

29. New Girl – 2014: 11

New Girl

New Girl’s second half of its fourth season, the only stretch of episodes that aired last year, as the fifth didn’t begin until early 2016, didn’t quite live up to the hit percentage of the season’s first half, but was still easily back on track from New Girl’s off-kilter third season. Damon Wayans Jr. continues to be an excellent cast addition to the season, and really rounds out the ensemble nicely, providing an extra character to spice up the A and B plot combinations. There are plenty of classic funny New Girl moments this season that continue in the line of what has made the show work when it at its best, particularly from Nick, where the show relishes its sitcomness, digging deep into its over-the-top silliness and ridiculousness,. Some of the segments that when described sound incredibly stupid end up as show highlights between of the specific word choices and the performances and chemistry of the cast.

28: Bob’s Burgers – 2014: 15

Bob's Burgers

Bob’s Burgers is the best kind of show to watch before bed because it will always leave you smiling and send you off to dreamland in a positive mood. Most TV is serial, and that’s great, I prefer it that way, and most comedies now even have occasionally wrenching emotional arcs. These are all good things. Most comedies that aren’t serial are awkward, hard to watch, laugh-out-loud affairs. As they say, though, variety is the spice of life, and Bob’s Burgers is something else, a largely non-serial comedy which isn’t awkward but is both funny and disarmingly heartwarming, Bob’s Burgers in some ways hearkens back to the old tried-and-true pre-00s family sitcom in a more successful way than any current live action example, with plots focusing on different combinations of Belcher family members in most episodes ending in moments where the family, though they may have been fighting or on each others nerves over the past twenty minutes, truly loves each other and stands next to one another against the world. This could be cheesy and I’m as skeptical of easy emotional manipulation as anyone, but because the characters and their relationships are so lovable and well constructed, it works. Last fall’s Halloween episode where the family teams up to scare Louise, leading a legitimately shocked Louie to thank them profusely is just one example.

27. Childrens Hospital – 2014: Not Eligible

Childrens Hospital

Goofy; silly, and only vaguely and arbitrarily serial when it feels like it (the hospital remains in Brazil), Childrens Hospital is about as close to a cartoon as a live action show can be. It’s all about the laughs, and it’s fun, light and silly; because everything is so over the top, and obviously so far removed from the real world, there’s not any sense of awkwardness or hard-to-watchness.  Childrens Hospital has an ear for parody, rather than satire; the barbs are spot on, but delivered with a gentle touch. The best episode of the season may have been “Fan Fiction,” in which a fan contest winner gets an episode produced based on her script, complete with many of the tropes of the genre. “Home Life of a Doctor’ was also excellent, where Jewish doctor Glenn Richie goes home to dinner with his parents, evoking a pastiche of Woody Allen/Neil Simon old-school Jewish families.

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Ranking the Shows I Watch – 2014 Edition: The Outcasts

14 Jan

Breaking Bad

It’s time for an annual beginning-of-the-year tradition over here at Drug of the Nation, the ranking of the shows I’ve watched during the previous year. This is my fourth annual ranking, and I’ll repeat the caveat I placed atop last year’s ranking introduction:

Because the TV season is no longer the fall-to-spring trajectory that it used to be, I arbitrarily rank things on a calendar basis, and that leads to strange situations where I’m occasionally ranking the end of one season and the beginning of the next season in the same ranking. It’s strange, and not ideal, but I have to pick some point in the year to do the rankings, so I’ll roll with the punches and mention within the article if there was a significant change in quality one way or the other between the end and beginning of seasons covered in the same year.

I’m only ranking shows I watched all of or just about all of the episodes that aired last year; if I’m just two or three behind I’ll rank it, but if I’ve only seen two or three, I won’t. I’m ranking three episode mini-British seasons but not shows with one-off specials (Black Mirror’s Christmas special is the most notable example this year) . These rules are arbitrary, admittedly, but any rules would be. No daily variety programs like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are eligible either.

The rankings this year were incredibly difficult, and a generally weak fall slate of TV shows had me forgetting just what an utterly strong year on the whole 2014 had been for television. I was forced to put shows I liked a lot towards the bottom of these rankings, and unlike previous years, there are just about no shows on this list that I’m one bad episode away from stopping, or that I’m just stringing out due to past loyalty until they finish. It’s absolutely brutal, and although I was forced to make tough choices, that doesn’t mean I don’t genuinely enjoy just about every show on this list. TV is that good, folks.

We start, as last year, with the shows that made last year’s list but didn’t make this year’s for one reason of another. This year these are almost entirely because they ended or didn’t air in the calendar year, so I’ll just run through them quickly, with some additional notes about the few that didn’t fall off due to simply not airing last year. This year I’m going to additionally throw in where a show ranked last year for context.

Here’s a quick link to last year’s final ranking as well. Now, on to the outcasts…

Breaking Bad – 2013: 1

Treme – 2013: 4

Eagleheart – Last year: 6

30 Rock – Last year: 10

Venture Bros. – 2013: 12

Top of the Lake – 2013: 15

Arrested Development – 2013: 17

Childrens Hospital – 2013: 21

Broadchurch – 2013: 23

Happy Endings – 2013: 24

NTSF: SD: SUV – 2013: 31

Black Mirror – 2013: 36

Family Tree  2013: 37

Siberia – 2013: 38

Luther – 2013: 45

The Office – 2013: 46

Dexter – 2013: 48

Enlightened – 2013: 6.5 (Initially, an embarrassingly mistaken omission)

Ben and Kate – 2013: 23.5 (Initially, an embarrassingly mistaken omission)

Take a deep breath. All of these shows did not air in 2014, so that’s the simple explanation why they’re not on the list. Many of these shows ended, Top of the Lake was a miniseries, several have extended offseasons and will be back in 2015 or later, and a couple are in extended hiatus, waiting to see whether they will return or not (looking at you, NTSF: SD: SUV). Easy enough.

Homeland – 2013: 41

Homeland

After a season and a half of utter frustration with the show’s inconsistency at best, and downright lousy and lazy writing at worst, I cut the cord, deciding not to watch the fourth season after a third season that really was not a very good season of television. People have told me the fourth season is better, and if a critical consensus emerges I’ll consider coming back, but I’m not that close to it. I got so sick of the show and Carrie and Brody in particular; if I had cut out earlier, I might have been more easily convinced to come back. It’ll always have an absolutely all-time first season, and is worthy fo remembering just for that, reminiscent of an athlete like Mark Fidrych who blows away the league in his first season only to never do anywhere close to the same again.

Under the Dome – 2013: 47

 

Under the Dome

Oof. Under the Dome’s first season makes the third season of Homeland look like the fourth season of Breaking Bad. It’s still stunning to me that I made it almost to the end of the first season (I never actually watched the season finale; either with only one left, I couldn’t bring myself to). The plot was incredibly stupid, the acting was generally pretty bad, and the characters were horrible. It’s hard to imagine a time when it could have been decent, but alas, a sneakily bad show is bound to end up getting watched sometimes when you watch so many shows.

Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 2013 Edition: 24-21

22 Jan

Four more shows, one comedy on its way out, one underlooked comedy that keeps on producing successful seasons, and two hour longs. Keep it going, below.

24. Happy Endings

Happy Endings

File Happy Endings away as a show that I didn’t appreciate enough until it was gone.  Well, not quite. I appreciated it not when it was gone but when, in the third season, it seemed as if its chances were grim. I savored each of the last few episodes, apologizing to my television for only really loving the show once it was already out of my grasp. It took me a while to really enjoy Happy Endings, because superficially it has markers of sitcoms I don’t particularly like, particularly Friends in its set up. When it comes down to it though, it was a consistently funny show with a fantastic cast with great chemistry that really seems like they’re enjoying themselves. The writing was sharp to begin with, but the cast made jokes work that some other combinations of actors wouldn’t have, through their timing and physical reactions. Not every episode was a gem, but by the end I was far sorrier to see it go than I had ever realized was possible when I started watching. Happy Endings with its no frills simple style, would have been a perfect fit on a cable network which makes its cancellation a particular shame.

23. Broadchurch

Broachchurch

A local boy is a small English seaside vacation town is murdered and a couple of detectives, one local, one Scottish, have to solve it. It’s a simple enough premise, but Broadchurch delivers on with surprisingly solid execution. The ending, which matters a lot for shows like this, satisfies; it’s heartbreaking and surprising but manages to not feel completely out of nowhere or too ridiculous. Broadchurch is only eight episodes long and the British desire to keep it short plays a large role in its success, preventing it from straying too far off the course with loads of red herrings and keeping a relatively tight focus. It’s not an all-time must watch but it’s surprisingly good and it’s a great eight episode pot boilder for weekend marathon viewing. Like with a good mystery novel, once I was halfway through I couldn’t stop until I got to the finish.

22. Masters of Sex

Mastes of Sex

Lizzie Kaplan and Michael Sheen play revolutionary sex researchers Masters and Johnson in this Showtime series set in 1950s St. Louis. Rather than feel just like another drama set in the past (which seem to be a possibly Mad Men-inspired cottage industry these days), Masters of Sex feels fresh and if anything is too ambitious; sometimes it summons ideas without having any plan what to do with them. Overall, though the ambition is admirable, and a surprisingly high percentage of Masters of Sex’s efforts work, more in the second half of the season than the first. The show discusses love, sex, and gender roles in an engaging way and features an assortment of well-built characters that stand to be enriched in future seasons; hopefully Alison Janey and Beau Bridges, who played recurring characters who star in bad CBS sitcoms, will be back. The future looks bright and this is a show that I think has no reason not to be even better next season.

21. Childrens Hospital

Childrens Hospital

I’ve been a long-time backer of Childrens Hospital and the fact that its this low says, as I find myself repeating a lot during this list, more about how much good television there is now, than anything about the lower quality of Childrens Hospital itself. That said, this probably wasn’t its best season yet, but there were definitely some classics. “Country Weekend,” a locked room mystery written by David Wain was a highlight, as well as “My Friend Falcon,” posed as a documentary with David Wain interviewing Childrens Hospital cast member Just Falcon, as played by Ken Marino. It’s the silliest and gentlest of the Adult Swim live action parody shows (basically, this, NTSF, and Eagleheart), and the most well-meaning – its satire is always in good fun rather than cutting. I honestly have no idea why Childrens Hospital has never caught on with a bigger cult audience and I recommend it frequently, as it’s usually safe to assume that people who I speak to about television, haven’t watched it. Give it a shot today, if you haven’t.

Power Rankings – Will and Grace

17 Apr

Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack

Sometimes, we pick a show from the 70s, with a giant 15 person cast, and run a three day long power ranking.  Sometimes, we take a show that ended seven years ago with four main cast members and it’s a little shorter.  It’s the latter today, where we work with the cast of Will & Grace, but they’ve made it easier for us but all staying pretty damn busy in the seven years since their show ended in 2006.  I never cared for Will & Grace as a show, but I suppose it played an important role in handing the first leading role on broadcast TV to a gay character, so absolute kudos for that.  Either way, it’s certainly earned its own Power Rankings.

4.  Sean Hayes (as Jack McFarland) – Hayes played Kenneth’s cousin in an episode of 30 Rock, and was in two episodes of Oxygen sitcom Campus Ladies (which apparently featured Jonah Hill).  He was in The Bucket List and Soul Men.  He was in an episode of Hot in Cleveland, and episode of Portlandia, and played a Indiana journalist who despises Pawnee in an episode Parks and Recreation.  He played Larry in the Farrelly brothers version of the Three Stooges.  Hayes was nominated for a Tony Award for his role in Broadway musical Promises, Promises, and voiced Mr. Tinkles in Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (I wish I had made up that title).  He was in four episodes of Up All Night and three of Smash.  He’ll be voicing a character in the upcoming Monsters Inc. sequel,  Monsters University.  He’s done quite a bit to get saddled with last, but he’s the clear choice for last here, which says more about the competition than it does about him.

3.  Eric McCormack (as Will Truman) – McCormack did some theater immediately after the end of Will and Grace, appearing in off-Broadway Neil LaBute play Some Girl(s), and producing (though his production company Big Cattle Productions) a sitcom for Lifetime called Lovespring International, about employees at a California dating agency, which failed quickly (and starred Jane Lynch).  He starred in A&E’s Michael Crichton miniseries adaptation of The Andromeda Strain.  He appeared in the 100th episode of Monk and one of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.  He co-starred with Tom Cavanagh in TNT’s Trust Me, as a Creative Director of an advertising firm, and the show was cancelled after one season.  He was in sci-fi film Alien Trespass and six episodes of the fifth season of The New Adventures of Old Christine (it is absolutely mind boggling that there are five seasons of that show).  He has been lending his voice since 2010 to kids’ cartoon Pound Puppies and starred in a lifetime TV movie based on infamous impostor and kidnapper Clark Rockefeller, the creatively titled Who is Clark Rockefeller?  As of last summer, McCormack is starring in TNT’s Perception, as a brilliant but vaguely crazy scientist who helps the FBI solve difficult cases (sounds more like a USA show, but I guess the networks aren’t that different).  Perception’s second season will air this summer.  The three non-Sean Hayes actors are so close that there could essentially be a three-way tie for first.  McCormack gets third because while he is the main character in Perception, no one cares about or watches Perception.

2.  Debra Messing (as Grace Adler) – Messing’s been very busy since Will & Grace.  (not relevant for these purposes, but immediately before landing Will & Grace, she was in a  failed sci-fi series called Prey; I think I am one of maybe half a dozen people to have seen it).  In the year after Will & Grace ended, she was in Ed Burns indie Purple Violets and Curtis Hanson-directed Lucky You.  The next year she was in the film The Women, and in highly successful USA network miniseries The Starter Wife, where she played a woman whose high-powered Hollywood husband recently left her for a younger woman.  Popular enough to be turned into a regular series, The Starter Wife then lasted for one season before being cancelled.  She appeared in a failed tv pilot Wright vs. Wrong (she was Wright) and got another main cast role in NBC’s much ballyhooed and made fun of Smash as lyricist Julia Houston.  Her role in Smash is not as important as McCormack’s in Perception, but Smash, unlike Perception, had a public moment, mostly a bad moment, but still, a moment.

Megan at a convention 1.  Megan Mullally (as Karen Walker) – She was in episodes of How I Met Your Mother, Boston Legal, The New Adventures of Old Christine, and voiced Honex Tour Guide in Bee Movie.  She appeared in the main cast of short-lived ABC Chelsea Handler sitcom In the Motherhood, and in the remake of Fame.  In 2010, she replaced Jane Lynch in the second season of Party Down, playing Lydia Dunfree, a mom with an aspiring actress/singer pre-teen daughter.  She was in indie film Smashed in 2012 and co-starred in the ill-advised second season of Christian Slater high tech security firm sitcom Breaking In, which was cancelled soon afterwards.  She’s been in all four seasons of Adult Swim show Childrens Hospital, as Chief, the crippled leader of the hospital.  She was in three episodes of 30 Rock as a representative of an adoption agency, and has been in six episodes of Parks and Recreation as Ron’s second ex-wife, the crazy librarian Tammy (Mullally is Offerman’s wife in real life).  She’s voiced Linda’s crazy sister Gayle in six episodes of Bob’s Burgers and Rose Stevens in one season of IFC cartoon Out There.  She’s also played Penny’s song-and-dance hyper mom Dana in Happy Endings.  The tie-breaker here is really that Mullally has been in more projects that I like, including Party Down, and Childrens Hospital, both of which are more acclaimed than anything Messing or McCormack have been in recently, as well as playing Tammy 2 in Parks & Recreation, which would win the tiebreaker all by itself.

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.