Rob Corddry. Lake Bell. Rob Huebel. Malin Akerman. Megan Mullally. Henry Winkler. Erinn Hayes. Ken Marino. If you’re a fan of comedy, chances are you’re a fan of more than a few of these people. So what happens when you squeeze all these personalities, plus notable guest appearances by Paul Scheer, Adam Scott, David Wain, and more, into 11 minute episodes parodying medical dramas? Childrens Hospital, a sporadically hilarious, consistently goofy satire that’s worth your time, if only for its brisk run time. Continue reading for a full review of the show and a rundown of the DVD extras.
Created by Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine), Childrens Hospital follows numerous doctors working in a fictionalized children’s hospital. The show parodies medical dramas like Grey’s Anatomy and E.R. with a tone of mock-seriousness. Cordrry plays one of the central characters, Blake Downs, a doctor constantly wearing face paint to encourage the “healing power of laughter”.
The other main characters include always-inappropriate Doctor Owen Maestro (Rob Huebel), sexually confused Cat Black (Lake Bell) and Doctor Lola Spratt (Erinn Hayes) who may or may not be a ghost. Akerman and Winkler joined the cast for the second season. Each character represents stereotypes from the dramas the show homages and mocks. Guest stars are patterned after stereotypical patients, from Nick Kroll, who plays a 6 year old with rapid aging disease, to Adam Scott and Clark Duke as sci-fi nerds who think their Star Trek medical knowledge can cure them.
The show begin as a web series with 5 minute episodes. From this iteration, it morphed into an Adult Swim show on Comedy Central, with two episodes per half hour. Thus, episodes are still only 11 or 12 minutes long. This works well for the show because each episode is jam-packed with jokes and never feels overlong. And, if you don’t like a particular episode, the next one is no more than 11 minutes away.
If each episode were more of the same, the show would grow tiresome quickly, but luckily most episodes vary the format. While many episodes are shot like an episode of Scrubs, there’s also 60 Minutes-esque behind the scenes episode chronicling the “20 year” run of the show and the fake actors within the univese of the show. Beyond that, most episodes vary a lot in focus; there’s no one main character, as certain characters are featured heavily in one episode and fade to the background in the next. Because of this variety, this is a show that’s best when watched in bunches.
Given that there are only 17 short episodes in this set, you’re probably wondering if the box set is actually worth it. Unfortunately, there aren’t many great special features in the set. There’s a fake featurette chronicling Rob Corddry and Cutter Spindell, the “actor” who plays Corddry’s character on the show. There’s also a music video, a medical Q&A with Rob Huebel’s character and, of course, deleted scenes and outtakes. While the bloopers were actually very funny, they’re muted by the disappointment in the set’s gag reel, which is just footage of the cast gagging, rather then more bloopers.
Ultimately, the show flies by at a brisk pace and is packed with jokes, which hit more often then they miss. Even though the box set doesn’t have a lot of good features, this is still the best way to get every episode in one place. Selling relatively cheap on Amazon, I’d recommend Childrens Hospital.