Children's Hopsital has been coming on so strong this season with the gimmicky theme episodes--what if the show had been made in the 1970s, what if it were a play narrated by Bruce Davison as a omniscient-folksy Stage Manager figure--that it feels kind of novel now when it returns to its roots as a straightforward parody of medical-drama shows. This means that, when there is no gimmick, it feels as if the absence of a gimmick is the gimmick, and we're right back where we started. You can see how Cartoon Network's late night schedule has earned its reputation as the stoner's paradise.
Anyway, there was a big revelation to kick-start the episode at the beginning, and a reference to an important social issue at the end to round it all out. The revelation was that Rob Huebel has a secret wife and newborn baby. There was an extra revelation tucked into the closing credits, which was that the blonde wife was played by Alicia Silverstone. Speaking as someone who is prepared to keep buying Clueless unless the world runs out of new formats to release it on, I take no pride in admitting that I didn't recognize her, which made me realize that I don't remember having actually laid eyes on her since the cancellation of Miss Match, her TV series with Lake Bell, back in 2003. Anyway, it was a great way of getting me to watch the entire episode again, right after I'd seen her name flash on the screen, sat bolt upright, and muttered, "What the hell?"
Silverstone, who for the record looks terrific and has been doing a fine job of keeping her comedy chops in trim doing whatever the heck she's been doing these past eight years wherever the heck she's been doing it, barged into the hospital with her baby in her arms, complaining of a wound that wouldn't heal. Huebel wanted to take charge of the case, over the objections of his wife, who had the quirk of not believing that he was really a doctor "because retarded people can't be doctors!" Huebel, in turn, gathered his team and vowed to crack the case so that he could "prove to my A-hole wife that I'm a real doctor, and, by extension, save the life of my newborn daughter." It turned out that Silverstone suffered from Münchausen by Proxy syndrome, a condition that I assume counts as a burning social issue, since I first heard about it from watching an episode of Law & Order. She had been taking bites out of the baby, which explained the episode's punning title. This in turn made me feel pretty stupid, because, having noticed the title before seeing the episode, I'd sat through the whole thing not only failing to recognize Alicia Silverstone, but expecting Richard Belzer to turn up.
In the subplot, Malin Akerman had a literal encounter with Death, played by Michael McKean, really looking the part. (I don't mean that in a bad way, though I understand how, taken out of context, it might not sound exactly like praise. I just mean that as soon as he appeared, wearing a sinister smile and with a red hanky in the breast pocket of his black suit, even before he introduced himself, I thought, "Whoa! Dude looks like he could be playing Death.") McKean informed Akerman that she had a fatal tumor, news that I had mixed feelings about, partly because I recently saw Akerman playing a woman with alopecia in the movie happythankyoumoreplease, and if you missed it, she is strangely fetching in a bald cap, with shaved eyebrows.
But instead of wheeling her to the chemo ward, Death offered her the chance to extend her life by beating him in a game of chess. "You know, you're very attractive, for a life-haver," he smirked. "Perhaps when I beat you, we can work out another, more sex-filled arrangement." She kicked his ass, though, which he didn't see coming, and didn't take well. "I thought you'd played this game a lot," she said. "I've literally played this game," he said, "with everyone who's every lived, for millennia." "So I get to live?" she asked. "I need some coffee," he said.
There was also a pretty good joke to go with the "Previously, on Children's Hospital..." intro. On the debit side, Lake Bell might want to rethink her bangs.
- "Wow, Owen has a secret wife and baby? How did we not know this?"
- McKean: "What do you wish you'd done that you didn't have time for?" Akerman: "Probably go to Dubai. Or Branson. I hear Yakov Smirnoff has five new jokes."
- "Clown of a bitch!" That's actually from the trailer for next week's episode, but I'm not supposed to be here next week, so screw it.