Childrens Hospital: "Run, Dr. Lola Spratt, Run"

Childrens Hospital: "Run, Dr. Lola Spratt, Run"

Children's Hospital is a show that's acutely aware of itself, packing self-referential nod after meta-joke into adult swim-sized 11-minute morsels that seem to feature two-thirds of the country's alt-comedy heroes every week. It lobs gags at the viewer quickly enough that you barely notice if they don't land. And every so often, it reminds everyone that yes, they know how silly the whole enterprise is. "Nothing here, no story, no sense of continuity, interchangeable characters, mostly a lot of bathroom jokes," Rob Corddry's character Blake Downs reads from a file at one point.

As irritating as that kind of humor can be in the wrong hands, Childrens Hospital is almost always a good time. It's constantly throwing out whatever formula it's supposed to be following (it is ostensibly a hospital spoof, but as the show's gone on, it's been happy to venture into whatever territory it pleases). The regular cast is game for anything and click in almost any combination. There's always some super-recognizable guest star just plunging himself into the mix (Jon Hamm made a welcome cameo return this week). And like I said, it's just joke, joke, joke, so much so that my fingers burned trying to get it all down at once.

Season 3 had a great ER-style credits sequence, crediting all the actors by the names they got in the behind-the-scenes episode last year (Ken Marino is "Just Falcon," Rob Huebel is "Rob Huebel," it was created by "Rube Corddryson"). It takes quite a bit to get everyone back together, considering it's the weekend, when doctors don't work, but a kid in quicksand gets everyone going, even if Owen Maestro (Huebel) is piloting a jumbo jet pantsless, or Glenn Richie (Marino) is sleeping with Lisa Edelstein, or Blake is in Tron-world and has to jump on his Blake-cycle to get back to reality.

I'm also glad we have Lake Bell back as Cat Black after her death and resurrection last year (I assume because she had to go be on a real TV show or movie that paid her lots of money). Bell is one of those actresses you'd barely notice before, but really proved herself on this show -- Malin Akerman, who I mainly remember for sucking in Watchmen, and who replaced Bell last year, is also back, and is also surprisingly good considering the shit she's usually cast in.

Last year I think Akerman was our regular voice-over narrator after Bell died, but now we get the meta-joke that Lola Spratt (Erinn Hayes), the other female lead, is looking to muscle in on that territory but is struggling with "sea-shell seller" in her voice coaching. Apparently everyone now thinks she's dumb, but she's also the hospital's resident quicksand expert and is trying to deal with a crazy ex-boyfriend whose whole family just committed suicide. And, as she tries to run to the hospital, her journey becomes a psychedelic cartoon. The whole thing sounds and feels like they're throwing shit against a wall, but somehow it all sticks and the cast always sells it as being perfectly natural (within the strange, heightened universe of Childrens', at least).

And they never let a single shot exist without a laugh if there's a laugh to be found. In the denouement, Lola finally arrives and saves the boy drowning in quicksand by getting an axe from one of those glass panels. And what happens when she breaks open that glass panel? There's no glass, and instead someone just shouts "smash!"

It's hard to assign a grade here, but I thought this was really funny. If you didn't, I'd advise you to check in next week anyway, since this show can be so different week-to-week (and next week's featured guest star is Nick Offerman, reprising his role as Chance Briggs). I'll be covering this thing week to week either way. Mostly I'll just be saying what I thought was funny. You guys do the same!

Stray observations:

Michael Cera's exhausted-sounding announcer is always a good go-to opening or closing gag. "It's Saturday, which is not alright for fighting. Repeat: not alright."

"This better be good, it's the Sabbath…oh, it's good."

I loved Cat's kitty-litter sofa cushions. With a significant amount of cat poop.

"I have been spending weekends at an opium den having sex with sailors, though."

"I bet the answer is somehow linked to my boner that won't go away."

"We need you with us! To help us do this thing! ...so where are you?"

Valerie reads a magazine called "Men'n" in the bathroom. Maybe because she is a man.

Ian Abercrombie, Mr. Pitt from Seinfeld, was in this for literally five seconds as Jon Hamm's butler.

God this show is hard to take notes on. Every other line is funny!

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