Childrens Hospital: "70's Episode"

Childrens Hospital: "70's Episode"

Childrens Hospital is always fast-and-loose with the jokes, but it's high-concept episodes like this one where it really tries to shine. The show's been crying out for a "70s episode" since the behind-the-scenes episode last season that explained that the show had been on for more than a decade and we saw a clip of an afroed Brian using his catchphrase "righteous" on new lady-doctor Lola Spratt.

Of course, it doesn't gel that Childrens Hospital has been on for so long that it had been on for a while by 1976, 35 years ago, but that's part of the gag, and the litany of lame 70s references, from the obvious ("disco sucks!") to the more obscure ("Skylab!") to the completely irrelevant ("vegetables!") that greeted us in the opening minute was a brilliant, dizzying spoof of any "flashback" episode that lumps in similarly cheesy callbacks. Michael Cera had a particularly good few lines this week, especially "Attention hospital staff - answering machines are a new invention" and his page to a 15-year-old Barack Obama.

Story-wise, these concepty episodes are even less coherent than a usual Childrens Hospital, but Lola's introduction, Glenn's return from Vietnam and Owen's obsession with the hot dog shortage were our plots this week. Some of the outraged lines lobbed at Lola were great ("How can you be a doctor without pants!") but the highlight of her scenes was that anti-climactic, horribly long bit of dead air as she shook her head at the news that a patient didn't want her treating him. "What a dick," she says, about thirty seconds after the point we figured they'd cut by. Any suspense-ruining moment like that always gets a big laugh from me, and Childrens especially gets the lack of timing just right.

Glenn's Vietnam thing was terrifically nonsensical, especially the repeated insult of "baby killer" proving to be more accurate than expected, evolving from the esoteric ("I'm a doctor, I save babies. Who later went on to be killed by my friends") to the literal (he's an abortion doctor) to the nonsensical ("Reminds me of that day in Da Nang, where we killed a bunch of babies and made hot dogs out of them"). The background info on his future vagina-splint lover the Chief was a good bit of nuttiness too, which I'm looking forward to the writers never using again -- she's a candy striper who got her name by being 100% Choctaw Indian.

Rob Huebel, as is so often the case, was my standout, maybe because him playing Owen on coke is even more intense than regular Owen, whose fevered line deliveries often read like he's a man possessed. Plus, his doctor outfit was the most disconnected from reality -- he looked like he'd walked in off the set of Anchorman. The reference of Blake dropping the punch bowl and crying rang a bell for me, but I couldn't place it -- was I supposed to?

What I loved so much about Childrens Hospital's behind-the-scenes episode last year is that it did tell a little tale along with all the meta-jokes of the show's actors all hating their jobs except for the guy playing Blake, who manages to convince the network to renew it with a letter-writing campaign. This one didn't quite measure up to that standard, but in terms of being a pure joke injection, it was pretty beautiful.

Stray observations:

"Up your nose with a rubber hose."

Robert Pupkin, a King of Comedy reference, drives Glenn's cab (and listens to Glenn Beck).

"Maybe our new doctor will be the monorail, or CB radio." "Or Twilight heartthrob Robert Pattinson!"

"Read between the lines, Iran!"

"Ford to Hospitals (Regarding Hot Dogs): Drop Dead!" 

"I want respect, I want my due! And I want a lude, yes, I want one of those." 

"Attention hospital staff. I'm easy. Easy like Sunday morning. That is all.

Glenn can't even begin to list the possible offensive names for Brian. "Shine comes to mind. That's a weird one."

"Happy new year? More like Unhappy New Year!" Blake used to have it.