From the very beginning, Childrens Hospital has mined laughs from its ability to throw every single cliche and trope at the wall and have it stick. This is a show that once had a season-long “tomato/tomahto” bit, simply because it could.
Season one was Childrens Hospital at its most “cohesive,” in regards to the season-long arcs and the straight-up parodying of Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice. But since then, Childrens Hospital has mocked pretty much everything it possibly can, from legal dramas to romantic comedies, all with the backdrop of the medical night time soap behind it. Much like Eagleheart transcended its Walker Texas Ranger spoof roots early on—even when people refused to let the comparisons go—Childrens Hospital quickly became too much of its own bizarre thing to “just” be a parody of Grey’s Anatomy.
Because of that adaptability, we’re six seasons in and we get an episode like this one. “Fan Fiction” is a fantastic (no terrible, barely a pun intended) episode of television that somehow manages to hit most of the tropes of fan fiction (the “good,” the bad, and the My Immortal) all in the span of 11 minutes of television. The episode is extremely fast-paced, and even subsequent re-watches of the episode might not allow the viewer to catch just every joke and random aside. There’s the author proxy in the form of Nurse Beth (and everyone else, as they slowly become parents), as well as the author insert in the form of “Dr. Carolyn Montague.” There’s the outsider (who really should just go outside!), the Wikipedia’d expert knowledge (“Citation needed!”), characters all greeting each other an awkward “Hello,” erections against abdomens, flowery language, and inter-species homo-eroticism. Childrens Hospital is already a show with ridiculous pregnancies on a semi-regular basis, so the absence of that in this fan fiction-inspired episode isn’t a foul.
The episode begins similarly to season one’s “very special” episode in which Cutter Spindell took the reins and to write and direct his own episode (a follow-up to his work directing The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants). In this case, Liz Cackowski plays mother, fan fiction writer (“I’ve written a ton. Star Trek, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Daily Show.”), and winner of the Childrens Hospital Superfan Contest, Carol Torton. Her favorite character is Nurse Beth, and because of that, her episode of Childrens Hospital—actually titled “The Lovers, The Fighters, The Heroes (or Who Cures The Doctor But The Moon & Blood?)”—breaks the cardinal rule of writing any spec episode of television: Don’t make the episode about a side character.
However, in doing so, she teaches everyone a valuable lesson about tolerance, friendship, and love triangles, one they will immediately forget comes next week’s episode.
While the episode signals the return of Cat Black (as these reviews are now very much about tallying who is present and who is absent—no Sy this week), she is only around to compare her pragmatic nature against Valerie’s suddenly pro-fiber agenda. Alas, “Fan Fiction” is truly only about one lady: Nurse Beth. This episode is a showcase for the consistently wonderful Beth Dover, who, despite her presence on the show since season two, really hasn’t gotten to do much in the way a “side” character like Nurse Dori or Chet has. Fans of Burning Love know what Dover is capable of, as she stole every scene she had in that series, but Childrens Hospital hasn’t had a breakout moment for her (unless you count her dance moves in the end credits of “Hot Enough For You?”). Until now, that is. Nurse Beth as the Bella/Anna to Owen’s Edward and Glenn’s Jacob (slash-Christian Grey-slash-every bad boyfriend in a piece of fan fiction ever) is perfect, as she’s the “outsider” to the cool doctors in Childrens, and she has the journal to prove it.
Since you can probably guess, I’ll admit it—I used to read my fair share of fan fiction “back in the day.” Way, way back in the day. Just the very fact that Carol made sure to focus on the unsung hero (to only herself and perhaps a small portion of the in-show fandom) of Childrens Hospital was a touch that transported me back to that world of nonsense. The dialogue within the episode is so accurate to the thousands of pieces of fan fiction around the internet that you can almost believe that it is actually one of them, specifically hand-picked for such an occasion. Megan Amram absolutely strikes gold with this script, and what’s even better is that it’s hilariously terrible (and terribly hilarious) whether you’re familiar with the fan fiction tropes or not.
This episode isn’t solely for the fan fiction literate, as anyone who has ever heard of Twilight or its raunchy spawn, 50 Shades Of Grey, should be able to get it. In fact, what is there to be confused about when a super-fan of a show inserts a line about there being high stakes, simply because the executive producer of the show told her there should be high stakes? If you’ve ever met a person who has said they could do a better job writing a show than a show’s writers (without any experience of writing—especially for a wide audience—whatsoever), then this episode makes sense. It’s nonsense, but it all makes so much sense.
- Beth: “Hello, journal. It’s me, Nurse Beth. I’ve always felt like the odd one out. Like a flower in the garden whose strange leaves hide the beautiful stamen and pistil within. I’m not one of the gang. And it hurts. I am in love with Dr. Owen Maestro.” Then it turns into something that I would not do justice by just reciting it here.
- Lola (piling onto Owen): “You’re so pale! You’re as pale as a bowl of cream.”
Glenn: “You’re as pale as the keys of a piano. The white ones!”
Chief: “You’re as pale as the yummy blondies I bake with the white chocolate chips!”
Lola: “Sounds delish. You should’ve won first place at the Weymouth Community Center Bake-off, not Sandy Homewood and her tasteless red velvet cake. (beat) HE IS REALLY PALE!”
- Owen: “WE MUSN’T!!!”
- Sparkling, vampire Owen is definitely something the show should bring up again in the future. The same goes for the “totally straight” sexual relationship between Owen and Glenn.
- Chief: “The head brain surgeon. How ironic. Get it? Head and brains are brothers.”
Cat: “Nice joke, Chief. Even hospitals need lighter moments. You’re not afraid to go there. Just like Ray Romano.”