Childrens Hospital: “Newsreaders”

Childrens Hospital: “Newsreaders”

Oh, Childrens Hospital, I am going to miss you! As if Party Down wasn’t a big enough bang to go out on, for the season three finale, the show brought back its documentary-within-a-show, “Newsreaders,” that produced maybe its most raucous and bonkers episode last season. It was quite a challenge for the show to double down on, but it did so splendidly, even maintaining continuity with the fake actors who play the characters (Ken Marino is called “Just Falcon,” Rob Huebel keeps his name but it’s pronounced “Hoy-bel”) as they all got a wacky spin-off in the wake of ratings success for the long-running show.

It kind of reminded me of the Simpsons spin-off showcase episode, but it only had a couple of minutes for each one and managed to skewer tons of silly sub-genres. My personal favorite was Just/Glenn’s show “Infinity Hills,” which in its description sounded like one of those weird 80s drama/soaps where things always border on the edge of fantasy. He's reunited with his twin, and they also have another set of twins in an alternate reality, “and they're extremely fat but we never see them eat anything and this is important, this is important, this is a clue.” The show we see is nothing like that, but a Joaquin Phoenix-bearded Just tells us that we’re not watching it right.

Rob Huebel’s “Doctors With Borders” felt like Off the Map or any time ER would send its doctors to Africa, with Huebel playing his alter-ego even gayer than before, tossing golden confetti in the air at the end of sentences. Cat plays “The Ghost Doctorer” who can communicate with corpses to find out how they died, making her an excellent pathologist but very little else. Things got stranger and stranger. Lola’s “Dr. Mole People Doctor” is grittiness taken to a surreal extreme; the Chief is “Locked in Doctorin’” in a Diving Bell and Butterfly parody; Sy adopts nine kids whose parents he helped commit assisted suicide but won’t work with the kids, who have to be digitally inserted; and Valerie is in a shot-for-shot Norwegian remake of the original show with a raucous laugh track but less actual comedy.

What’s great about this episode like last season’s is that it even manages to get a very basic storyline across, culminating in a mad shootout between the cast when “Newsreaders” tries to get them all back together. There’s not quite the same narrative thread as Blake (weirdo Cutter Spindell)’s efforts to save the show last year, but hey, they got 12 minutes to cram like eight spinoffs into, this shit looks difficult! So maybe “Newsreaders” was not quite as madcap and exhilarating as last year’s faux live episode finale, but as an example of the show’s crazy creative energy as we eagerly anticipate a fourth season, it was a great way to go out. See you kids all next year.

Stray observations:

  • “Grey whale. More like gay whales? All that, and Andy Kaufman, tonight on Newsreaders.”
  • Cutter remembers his old spinoff fondly. "It was a ratings disaster." "But ironically we won several awards." "No, you won no awards." "It's something."
  • "This show does something that no other show does. Other than Medium and Ghost Whisperer." "Right. So it's kind of like those shows.”
  • Dixie asked Jennifer Love Hewitt if she could do the show. "She looked at me and said... she said no."
  • "We're not going anywhere outside of this very specific zone; it's too dangerous. I need more maps. STAT! MORE MAPS!"
  • Nice cameo by Jason Mantzoukas as the mole person. "The tracks are where it's warm!" "Get a dog." "I'd just eat a dog." "Well then get a blanket." "Are you kidding! Blankets are delicious!"
  • "Look, I don't know which one your mommy was, but wherever she is, it was totally her decision."
  • "I would slit my wife's throat to be with you."
  • Cutter pointing to the sad face on his card and trying to imitate it was great.
  • "As former President Benjamin Franklin learned so piercingly from an assassin's bullet in his temple causing his untimely death, fame has its costs."
  • "Put my scarf on its hangar. On the scarf hangar."
  • "Of course we thought that they would choose the meal... I had no idea they were going to murder each other so gleefully... It's totally my fault, I mean..."
  • "And manatees, man, what a tease?"
  • "And there's a minesweeper who's a central character, but we never see him."