Sick Kids Are Funny, but Sick Doctors Are a Laugh Riot!
by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Jul 17th 2010 6:00PM
With the weekly schlock comedy that network television continually throws at us like so much monkey pooh, it's refreshing, if not liberating to see television that puts ideas, creativity and jokes about genital amputation ahead of the bottom line.
I've made the argument before that when money makes its way into any artistic equation, the net sum is garbage a**. That's right, a combination of garbage and a**, in both odor and general pungency. (See 'Two and a Half Men.') So when I see a show that is legitimately funny, with an edge and an energy that can only come from a cast of unsung comedy studs doing it simply for the joy of making art, I get a little chubby. I'm not gonna lie.
'Childrens Hospital' (Sundays at 10:30ET on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim) is the television equivalent of shooting an indie film. It's loaded with performers who you've seen a million times, but can never seem to remember when your buddy asks you, "Hey, who's that guy from the one with the chick and the thing?"
Guys like: Rob Corddry ('Daily Show,' a million other things); Ken Marino ('Party Down,' lots of other funny stuff); Rob Huebel ('Human Giant,' TV and movies and junk); Megan Mullally ('Party Down,' some other show I can't recall right now); Lake Bell ('How to Make it in America,' Amanda Peet lookalike contests); Malin Akerman ('The Comeback,' other things where she looks hot); with cameos from Ed Helms ('The Office'); Adam Scott ('Party Down'); Clark Duke ('Clark and Michael'); and Henry Winkler (Everything. Ever.) among many others.
What makes this significant is that all of these people are, presumably, doing this for artistic and comedic expression, and before you all start screaming, "Shut up, you hippie!" -- I'm being completely serious, and don't know how to say it without sounding horribly idealistic. Adult Swim continues to develop programming that seems to have this overarching ideal at heart, leading by example as they create television of substance ('The Boondocks,' 'Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job,' 'Home Movies,' 'Moral Orel') without the tainting power of money. Not that anyone is doing all this for free, but I can't imagine any of the people involved with 'Childrens Hospital' making more than 8 bucks per 15-minute episode. When you let creative people be creative, good things generally happen.
The show itself is a wickedly pointed parody of all things medical on television. The writers and creators unleash a full assault on shows like 'House,' 'ER,' 'Scrubs,' and 'Grey's Anatomy' by exploring "the emotional struggles and sexual politics of a group of doctors charged with healthy libidos. Their dedication to their personal lives is relentless, interrupted only by the occasional need to treat sick children." When I watched the first episode, I laughed loud enough that someone within earshot would be able to hear me (I wish there were a more efficient way to say that), and I had to check to make sure I wasn't watching a DVD, and that the laughter was indeed induced by something on television.
The Adult Swim version of the show is a continuation of the 2008 TheWB.com web series of the same name, and marks another victory for the network. The Cartoon Network is arguably the first to embrace and develop the connections between television and the internet, and while the "Big Four" networks proceed with business as usual, producing the kind of TV your old spinster aunt loves because "the laugh track makes me feel less alone;" shows like 'Robot Chicken,' 'Metalocalypse,' and the other programs peppered throughout this post are packing more quality into shorter time slots to account for the diminishing attention spans and demand for more irreverent content the internet has exacerbated and nurtured.
Basically, the world would be a better place if we all just began to realize that "A hospital isn't a place for lazy people. A hospital is a place for smart people to take care of people who aren't smart enough to keep themselves healthy." - Nurse Cat Black
Dr. Vaughan teaches English/Media/Humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and Crocs make him angry. You can also check out his blog at drvtv.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Vaughan/21931402981