Childrens Hospital is always bonkers. But "Childrens Hospital: A Play in Three Acts," was bonkers on a whole other incredible scale. It wasn't as joke-a-minute as some episodes, but it was so wholeheartedly committed to that spoof of an Our Town-style play (excising common tropes like Michael Cera's announcer voice or any kind of post-credits tag) that I just couldn't help but admire the craft of it. Then, when it went to the next level by introducing the Kraftwerkian Laser Hospital, well, I just lost my shit.
There was a lot of detail in this one that I enjoyed picking up on. Lola's move where she slammed an invisible door behind her and then slid down in crying, all in front of an oblivious Owen, was a brilliant sendup of the whole minimalist Our Town thing. When Owen later embarrassed himself during the rhythmic Laser Hospital dance, Lake Bell's version of "laughing" was unhinging her jaw and holding it open while pointing, like some broken robot. Sure made me laugh!
Not to suggest there weren't a lot of great lines too. Guest star Bruce Davison as the narrator (or Stage Manager) was just knowing enough, and his descriptions of the characters were homey and old-timey until they turned on a dime to become completely straightforward. About Valerie, "This is one fire you don't want to put it. You want to have sex with it...and she has a dick!" Or, of course, Glenn: "He's always telling it like it is with his trademark sense of humor! Oh, and he's a Jew!"
The dialogue kept that balance of corny/knowing the whole time without ever really grating. Owen's lame jokes were just weird enough to be clever, but still be lame. "Our softball team is 10 and 0." "I lost both shoulders in the war!" "We'll pay you 5% more than you do now!" "How many percents more was that?"
Huebel and Marino got the most to do here (poor Blake was barely seen at all, in what seemed like a wink at the way the marketing focuses on him so much) but everyone had one weird or cool moment, like the Chief's fantasy about the bisexual dancers, or Sy wandering around in a fake beard saying he was Tobey Maguire, or Lola's aforementioned breakdown.
But where the episode really took off for me was Laser Hospital. I think I just like spoofs of "the future" that involve people wearing sunglasses and acting like robots. I realize that's a very specific thing to like! But it's still true! The crazy dance sequence (nice to see Nurse Kulap getting in on the fun both times) and the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, and Ken Marino's repeated punch-to-the-gut system of discipline just had me in hysterics.
I honestly don't know what someone who'd barely seen the show would make of an episode like this one (although they'd probably get the general idea of the spoof). But I'm glad they have the audacity to attempt a few of these each year. Watching the show commit so thoroughly to such a concept, and then test the limits of the self-imposed boundaries, it's just a beautiful thing.
A "vital copy" of Tattoo You is on the hospital wall.
"Blake Downs, clown doctor, ecetera."
"Well good for you, I have the largest elbows in my family, and that and a bus ticket takes me downtown!"
"I've spoken to the board and I've given him the authority to shoot Sy." "What?" "I mean force him to retire."
Lola thinks she's damaged goods. "Maybe there's a fetish for that!" Owen reassures her.
"I'll just sit here and darn these old socks, try to masturbate."
Laser Hospital has the "latest technologies like bone rotation and dick-belt replacements."
"Toothpaste and darts are not a meal!"
"Save your bedside manner for the prostitutes which we do provide at a discount if you meet your revenue quotas are we clear!"
Bruce Davison is called Owen, but he's not Owen. "No, I was one of the black bisexual dancers."
Sadly adult swim doesn't give us pics for these episodes, so I just had to pull a random one. Too bad, because no episode looked like this one.