Much like it first season, Childrens Hospital ended its sixth season with Dr. Blake Downs coming out on top. However, this time around, Blake didn’t leave the world of Childrens for greener pastures—he instead turned Childrens into his own playground as the newly-appointed head surgeon, firing his peers that loathe him as well as literally anyone who crossed paths with him. It was the ultimate revenge plan, albeit one no one really asked for; because, as everyone watching knows by this point, Blake really is the worst, and not in the fun way. He’s the worst person in a group of terrible people, yet he still wants to be accepted by everyone, and Ballers’ Rob Corddry absolutely nails all of that both in front of and behind (this is a Corddry-penned premiere) the camera. The former characteristic is what made the ending of “Kick Me” such a big cliffhanger for the show’s sixth season, and the latter is part of what makes this episode tick at times.
Childrens Hospital’s ability to pick and choose its continuity is one of its best qualities, especially since it still manages to find a way to have it all sort of make sense in the end. In that way—and obviously that way alone—Childrens Hospital is a lot like the anti-Lost. Think about it. In this instance, “Kids Hospital” shows the aftermath of Blake’s finale firing rampage, with a clearly larger Childrens Hospital now a professional wasteland: There are 300 patients onsite, with Blake as the only doctor and Sy as the only other employee left. The trio who were fired onscreen in the finale (Owen, Cat, and Lola sitting in for a now absent Val) are making the transition to their new job at the trashy Kids Free Clinic. Everything has changed, all because Blake supposedly needed revenge.
And because this is Childrens Hospital, don’t question why three of the hottest doctors—physically and professionally—in all of Brazil would have to slum it. We’ve seen Childrens doctors move to the city, spin-off to do their own things, and work in completely different professions altogether, so this is far from the most surreal thing to ever happen. The discarded doctors’ plot even brings on a little deja vu in the form of last season’s “Codename: Jennifer.” Only this time, their mission is orientation, and the fabulous guest star is Betsy Brandt as Dr. Kids. Watching these three particular dummies try to maneuver their way through orientation is really a good way to return to this ridiculous world, and that’s even before they have the suicide pact.
Really, the Kids Free Clinic plot is basic Childrens Hospital, right down to Khan getting exasperated with Lola, Owen, and Cat for simply not understanding how to do anything right. And Cat being the one to show up to work late while a hostage situation is in progress is probably the most honest character moment of the entire episode. Seven seasons into Childrens Hospital and it make appear “random” to the outside observer, but it honestly maintains an amount of logic that is absolutely true to it.
And for those viewers who have stuck with Childrens Hospital for the long haul, the show rewards them. There are reminders that this is a show set in Brazil (even as every season goes out of its way to make it look less and less like Brazil); there are meta jokes about the hospital being different every time Paul Scheer’s Sir Tinklebutton is there (the last time he was actually in the hospital was in season three’s “The Night Shift”); there are even still jokes about the show previously previously filming at the same hospital set as Scrubs. As little as it all is, it’s still much appreciated.
In fact, it’s all a part of the show’s charm, and the same can be said about the measures taken in this episode to forgo actual patient work with children in order to deal with truly cute stuff. Obviously, the puppy “fighting” is nothing but pure cuteness, as it would be impossible for it to be anything but. Hell, Comedy Bang! Bang! had an episode where the audience had to “vote” for whether or not to slaughter and taxidermy a duck, bunny, or a lamb, and it still ended up being cute. But few shows could make a shoot-out between doctors and the Chinese mafia match those same levels of cuteness, and Childrens Hospital just nails it. “You guys,” Cat says. “Let’s have fun with this one.” And they do. There’s just something about watching Erinn Hayes, Rob Huebel, and Lake Bell have the time of their lives shooting “fake” guns with reckless abandon at, well, anyone, let alone Chinese mafia that’s super adorable.
While that trio actually has a walk on the wild side, Blake finds himself at least thinking he’s doing that. The fact that Blake doesn’t realize he should fix things with his former colleagues, instead opting to join his brother in “a life of crime,” makes absolute sense. He’s too terrible to think about an apology, and he’s too desperate to be involved in something to realize that his lame criminal brother is still a lame criminal (and not just lame because he’s a criminal). The plot itself relies a lot on the cuteness of puppy “fighting” and Blake and Tinklebuttons’ different approaches to being oblivious fools, as it’s all really biding its time until it can get to the conclusion and send Blake off on his uncoordinated way. And as fun as that is, that’s actually the biggest problem with this episode. What’s disappointing about this premiere is that it was ultimately doomed by being the aftermath of “Kick Me.”
After a finale with too much Blake, Childrens Hospital returns from its hiatus with a continuation that supposedly writes off the plot for now with too little Blake. For all of that finale’s weaknesses, it opened up possibilities for something truly bizarre to kick this whole season off. That season finale was so Blake-centric that it needed a conclusion to justify it, and “Kids Hospital” is not that episode. Yes, the episode exists in true Childrens Hospital fashion to shrug off something that became almost too big for the show to write its way out of, but given the “let the world burn” end to season six, there’s really a sense that something’s missing in this episode. “Kick Me” had an entire love plot for Blake with Rachel Blanchard’s nurse character, with him even getting the girl, and here, we get nothing. We don’t even see a real moment of Blake having to deal with the wasteland that is now Childrens. That would be fine in other circumstances, but basically, the show gave us all rise for Blake in “Kick Me” and really none of the fall in “Kids Hospital.” As the season two premiere made perfectly clear, the fall is the best part of the Blake character.
Moving forward, what will be interesting to see is if this does mean that the rest of the season (or at least a good portion of it) will have Tinklebutton continue to pose as Blake while the real Blake (and the cops) looks for his “friends.” After all, Blake became head surgeon: So anything is possible in the Childrens Hospital universe, even seven seasons in. “Kids Hospital” isn’t the best the series has to offer, and it’s not necessarily the best follow-up to the previous season’s finale. But as far as getting audiences back into the world of Childrens Hospital, it does get the job done. And it does so with puppies and a “Baba Booey.” That’s still a pretty good way to start.
- The standard blood stains on Blake’s sweater vest were a very nice touch.
- “The wrath of this guy” bit re: Khan was definitely dad joke territory, and I loved the hell out of it.
- Apparently the wrong side of the Brazilian tracks, downtown version of Michael Cera’s Sal Viscuso the PA man is Hannibal Buress’… Hannibal Buress. I’m shocked that they didn’t pull another “Louis C.K.” and just have James Adomian play that role too, but we still have the rest of the season…
- The above is my way of saying I hope “Madonna” comes back and sings something from the public domain.
- Tinklebutton: “Huh, it’s like a different hospital every time I’m here.”
- Blake knows that a veterinarian is someone who“fights wars,” so it’s a good thing he spent a whole year on a military base, huh?
- A season of Lola, Owen, and Cat as drug dealers would have been great, but it probably also would have been too Archer, now wouldn’t it? Owen was really bummed though.
- Actually, Owen was really on top of everything in this episode. He’s also the one who spends the longest time dwelling on how realistic the nuclear war test looked.
- Owen: “You know, Sy, for a hospital administrator, you sure have shot a lot of guns over the years.”