With an opening skewering TV drama’s penchant for starting in medias res, a bonkers title, and a (sadly offscreen) sex scene between Rob Huebel and Megan Mullally, “The Boy With The Pancakes Tattoo” finds Childrens Hospital feeling good as new as it enters its fourth season.
“The Boy With The Pancakes Tattoo” isn’t the kind of mold-breaking, genre-busting masterpiece that Childrens Hospital routinely produces a few times per season, but it is a top-flight example of the show’s usual strengths that blasts through a typically overcomplicated plot in 11 minutes flat.
There isn’t the Stieg Larsson mockery you might expect, but rather a general spoof of the TV conceit that throws the viewer into an insane situation (the entire hospital in chaos, Glenn with “ME GLENN” tattooed to his hands) and then jumps to “NINE HOURS EARLIER” to explain it. Of course, the explanation is going to be convoluted and insane, but the audience will be delighted enough by everything fitting together that they won’t care.
So Sy dumped some toxic waste into a tattoo shop’s dumpster, which quickly causes mass, infectious amnesia, easily diagnosed with a red brainscan. Glenn and Lola are at ground zero of the event, while Blake manages to convince Val that he’s her boyfriend as well as king of Childrens. Elsewhere, Owen and the Chief decide they’re the last two people on earth and have to repopulate the planet.
Childrens Hospital has gotten better and better at its depiction of sheer chaos and now barely needs to justify any kind of insane premise. Blake’s reign as king is brief but merciless. “You’re my bodyguard! Guard my body! Use your body!” he orders a tough-looking biker guy (who turns out to be Val’s real boyfriend). Glenn quickly figures out how to defeat the amnesia: By giving it an injection of amnesia (turning the red fluid green, of course).
There’s a disappointing lack of Owen and the Chief outside of their little B-plot, but at least those scenes are cute and full of good amnesia jokes. “We don’t have time for slapping. I gotta take out this kid’s gall bladder. Quick, what’s a gall bladder?” There’s no Lake Bell to be seen, but with good reason: She was behind the camera for this one, while Ken Marino and his wife Erica Oyama wrote the script.
From what I’ve heard about the upcoming season, Rob Corddry and his staff are planning to push the envelope more than ever and keep busting through every weird genre and sub-genre they can think of. From the looks of “The Boy With The Pancakes Tattoo,” Childrens Hospital clearly hasn’t lost any steam.
- “Nurse Dory, what’s your name?” “I’m guessing from the context of your question it’s Nurse Dory, but I don’t remember.”
- The Chief and Owen, in surgery, first think they’re diners. “Is this a restaurant?” “Oh my God, I’m not eating this!” “We are going to destroy them on Yelp.”
- Lola has a similar reaction upon getting an amnesia tattoo. “I can feel my memories slipping away aaaaaannnnddd… they’re gone. Are you my waiter?”
- Blake’s the only one unaffected. “Clowns can’t get amnesia, although we would like to forget Cirque du Soleil.”
- Lola says it best: that was “one of the craziest Tuesdays I’ve had all week!”