TV on DVD: “Childrens Hospital: The Complete First and Second Seasons”

Written by Television, TV on DVD

Childrens Hospital, the series created by comedian Rob Corddry (The Daily Show, Hot Tub Time Machine), not only satirizes the medical drama genre, it skewers it, sets it over an open flame and let’s it burn. The Adult Swim comedy sets its sights primarily at Grey’s Anatomy, utilizing the same introspective voiceovers, Adult Album Alternative music, and the type of single take, steadicam shots that have made the ABC drama a hit.

Other shows that Childrens Hospital pokes fun at include ER, House, Chicago Hope and the grandfather of ensemble medical series, St. Elsewhere. Biting doesn’t even begin to describe the humor in Childrens Hospital. I would also add deranged, twisted, inventive, offensive and hilarious.

The show began as a web only series on TheWB.com. Its first season was just 10 episodes, each only 6 minutes long. All of those episodes  are represented on the first disc of this two DVD set. Corddry stars as Dr. Blake Downs, a clown doctor who struggles with whether he should use the healing power of laughter to treat his patients, or if he should practice actual medicine.

Downs’ co-workers include Dr. Owen Maestro (Rob Huebel), a former New York cop who quit after 9/11. He’s the resident heartthrob, and idiot (not that any of these doctors have a brain in their head). Dr. Cat Black (Lake Bell) narrates the first season. After an aborted attempt at love with her roommate, Dr. Lola Spratt (Erinn Hayes), Cat falls in love with one of her patients, Little Nicky, (Nick Kroll), a six-year-old boy who has advanced aging disease. Megan Mullally is the Chief, the head of staff at the hospital who is also handicapped (a direct rip on ER’s Kerry Weaver).

Season 2 shakes things up a little, with Malin Ackerman taking over the voiceover duties, Ken Marino appearing regularly as Dr. Glenn Ritchie (he gives Maestro a run for the money in the department of resident lunk head) and Henry Winkler coming aboard as a rep from the insurance company that buys the hospital. Making special appearances throughout the course of both seasons are Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Nathan Corddry, Eva Amurri, Marion Ross and Jon Hamm. The Mad Men actor appears in a brilliant parody of Tootsie that occurs at the end of a so-called “live” episode.

Second season episodes are longer than season one, they extend to 11 minutes (whew). You can get through both seasons of the show in a couple hours, which is what you’re likely to do once getting into the rhythm and humor of Children’s Hospital. As I said, the show can be offensive at times, but it’s all in good fun, which is what all of the performers appear to be having throughout each episode.

The DVD contains the usual features, such as a gag reel, deleted scenes and outtakes. The more interesting productions are a music video to the song, “I Cured Cancer,” which is a reference to one of Dr. Ritchie’s storylines, and bit in which Rob Corddry interviews his character, Dr. Blake Downs, and the actor ho plays Blake Downs, Cutter Spindell. On paper it sounds confusing, but it all makes sense once you see it.

The 3rd season of Children’s Hospital has just begun airing on Adult Swim. You could spend this weekend catching up with Childrens Hospital: The Complete First and Second Seasons and be completely prepared for next week’s new episode.