“Eulogy” S4 / E14
- B+ Community Grade
It’s an annual tradition for Childrens Hospital to turn its season finale over to a “making of” story from the fictional newsmagazine Newsreaders, and this season is no different—although we now have the bonus knowledge that Newsreaders will soon be its own show on Adult Swim. Maybe that spin-off will finally get around to finishing that interview with Kate Walsh, who’s trapped in an endless loop of hysterical laughter (with occasional pauses for quiet contemplation).
I was very happy to see “Eulogy” concentrate on the death of Blake Downs, rather than just brush it aside as another in a long list of ridiculous Childrens Hospital gags that can be easily ignored. Instead, the show doubles down, saying that the actor who portrayed Blake, Cutter Spindell, was killed during the stabbing scene of “Wisedocs” (but not because he was stabbed—he was electrocuted after falling on an exposed junction box). Blake’s death scene was then digitally altered in order to write the character off the show. The real question is whether Rob Corddry will have the balls to not appear next year, or if he’ll return as a new character. I certainly don’t want him offscreen, but I do want to see how the writers deal with the ridiculous challenge they gave themselves with “Eulogy.”
As with any Newsreaders episode, the biggest laughs come from two places—the seriousness of the fake show (and Louis La Fonda in particular) and the weird little details from the behind-the-scenes footage. Apparently the writing staff of Childrens Hospital is a bunch of middle-aged, Jewish, black ladies who are always complaining about missing Shabbat and want to put “more ‘tomato’/‘tomahto’ stuff” in future scripts. Another gem is the preview for the next episode of Newsreaders—“The goliath grouper, or the ‘Jew fish.’ Do they control the riverbanks?”
Elsewhere, there are brief drop-ins from the cast’s alter egos—for example, Rob Huebel as Rob Huebel, who’s very flamboyant and has a name no one can pronounce. Huebel also headlines a spoof of that Sesame Street episode where Mr. Hooper dies (a classic piece of television, but a pretty obscure one to be satirizing at this point), except it’s Owen trying to explain the concept of death to a patient who just won’t get it. “I TOLD you. What are you, FROM HELL!?” Owen screams at one point.
Childrens Hospital’s continued penchant for making things way more difficult for itself is also a joy. Sticking to the concept that Blake didn’t die when Chief stabbed him, the producers of the show-within-the-show instead green-screen his face onto a much fatter double for the shooting scene. The double’s body is eventually smoothed out, but he still died during filming.
It’s tough to say whether Childrens Hospital has improved this season: Last season was where it really hit its innovative stride, and these last 14 episodes have just been about maintaining that wacky/satirical pace. I’d say there were a couple more duds in the mix this time around, and the shock of the extremely meta episodes is going to be less pronounced as more of them appear, but there’s no doubt this remains one of the most innovative, brilliant comedies on TV. I’m looking forward to its return next year, whenever that may be.
- The bearded Joaquin Phoenix routine of Ken Marino’s Just Falcon would be getting old if Marino wasn’t the king of fixing people with a hilariously disturbing stare.
- The flashbacks to young, John Lennon-esque Cutter on an earlier Newsreaders are fantastic. Although the Asian woman next to him is no Yoko Ono, she’s the next guest. “Oh, yes, the artist, of course. Well, let’s get drunk,” Louis says. Cutter agrees, taking his first drink in 25 years. “DADDY’S BACK!”
- Kevin Pollak’s Corddry is excellent (his other impressions are better-known).
- Lola’s goodbye speech to Blake is very trite. “If you could believe in an animal that could fly, also imagine that it laughs.” After calling cut, she quickly points out that birds can fly.
- Can Childrens Hospital continue without Cutter?“Short answer? Yes. Long answer, yes it can.”