Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Childrens Hospital: “Wisedocs”

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On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with Childrens Hospital doing a Goodfellas parody. Sure, the film’s hardly a fresh target, but it’s iconic enough that it doesn’t matter one bit. But for me—and I’m sure this is true for other A.V. Clubbers—when I think of a meta-sitcom spoofing Goodfellas, I think of Community, which nailed the task with “Contemporary American Poultry.” God knows if that was even on Rob Corddry’s radar when he wrote this episode, but as the premise of the episode dawned on me, I wondered if the show could pull off a lot of the same jokes (inner monologues, freeze-frames, classic-rock soundtrack) and still seem fresh.

Happily, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s plenty of room in this town for two Goodfellas sendups. Community was doing something different anyway, tying the Henry Hill “outsider on the rise” story to Abed’s character arc. Childrens Hospital is just being as wacky and violent and ridiculous as possible within 11 minutes, most definitely killing off one of its characters (Blake, who gets stabbed, then shot to death, although I’m sure we’ll see him again) and suspending the medical license of another (Chief, our closest analogue to Henry Hill).

At first, I thought the parody was just one part of the episode, in which Sy lets a mobster pose as a child to get under-the-table medical services—and then they start cooking delicious food in the hospital, like the prison scene (and David Krumholtz is there as a simpleton, because why not). But when Blake told Chief to “go get your shinebox” and got stabbed and kicked repeatedly for his trouble, I figured it out. However, there’s no real plot to this episode. There’s mobsters in the hospital and Chief stabs Blake, but it’s just an excuse for a collection of funny scenes, many of them barely connected to Goodfellas outside of a knowing wink.

Nick Offerman makes a welcome return as Chance Briggs, having gone deaf and accidentally shot a perp. He’s looking to be a doctor, at least for a hot second, but mostly he’s just there to look hilariously disheveled and shoot a still-breathing Blake to death in the most laugh-out-loud moment of the episode. Chance is one of the show’s most reliable recurring players, but I was a little bummed that there wasn’t as much romantic tension with Owen as usual (just one great throwaway joke).

Cat is the MVP for me tonight. She’s barely around until the final minutes, but her scenes with Krumholtz where she instantly falls in love are terrific. Lake Bell is an underrated comic actress—in lesser hands, Cat would just be a garden-variety bitch, but I love how Bell alternates between being mean and being extremely sincere. She’s disgusted that Krumholtz’s character is called Dookie, but she can’t help but be impressed by his advice on split ends.

This is far from a classic episode, if only because it’s so inconsequentially silly. And once you cotton onto the Goodfellas references, you kind of get the point. But hey, it made me want to watch that movie again. So that’s a big bonus.


Stray observations:

  • The best movie reference of the night is Sal’s announcement echoing Jimmy Two Times. “Attention staff. I’m going to go get the papers. That is all, that is all.”
  • Owen checks up on a kid. “Does it hurt when I do this?” He leans his face in, staring. “YOU ARE WORTHLESS.”
  • Owen can read Chance like a book. “Now you’re giving a look like, ‘Hey, I think I know that guy.’ Man, I am really nailing what’s happening moment to moment.”
  • “In this hospital, we don’t fight with bullets. We fight with these,” Owen says, pulling out a handful of bullets. The pills are in the other pocket.
  • Cat warns Dookie about falling in love with her (he calls her “Human Cat”). “Keep in mind I’m Jewish and I’m terrible at keeping secrets.” “I can’t wait to tell my dad I’m in love with some blabbermouth Jew broad who kisses like a black chick.”
  • Dookie doesn’t get the expression “tomato, tomahto.” “Who says tomahto?” “Wealthy people, British waiters, Frasier’s brother.”