This morning as I rewatched tonight’s episode of Childrens Hospital, I was alerted by Ballers’ Rob Corddry to some very important news: This is the last season of Childrens Hospital. After years of regularly discussing how Childrens Hospital could possibly run forever, it turns out I was proven wrong by Jonathan Stern pointing out in the same bit of news that “no TV show lasts forever, except for Law & Order: SVU.” (By the way, there are now 17 seasons of Law & Order: SVU.) Funnily enough, before the news broke, I had taken a moment to think about how excited I was to cover future seasons of the show. Because when I got the chance to take over Childrens Hospital, I was able to mark something off on my A.V. Club checklist. The show is and always has been my happy place, and that’s not exactly something a lot of people can say when it comes to work.
At the same time, a lot of people also can’t say they’ve been in the band X. But in this particular episode, Childrens Hospital’s own Glenn Richie finds himself as part of the lucky few who can. Of all the ever-changing characters on Childrens Hospital, Glenn is the one who has been relatively consistent when it comes to his depiction as the rockstar doctor. That type of classification basically gives him the right (in Brazilian law) to be a legitimate rockstar, so that’s what we get in “Show Me A Hero.” Only he’s not even really a legitimate rockstar, because no one in his life believes him, and the band X doesn’t really even like him or his original music. It’s a simple enough absurd premise, which Childrens Hospital can work with just as well as it does a high concept absurd premise. But it’s also so simple that it never really gets past that initial stage, even with another Ken Marino musical number, a Dick Cavett cameo, and Chekhov’s garage.
The idea that Glenn regularly tells everyone he’s in or was in famous rock bands (only to become the boy who cried band) is a fun concept, but like Cat’s plot, it feels like it exists solely to get to the end. The ridiculous idea of X being Glenn’s band—as well as rehearsing at the nurse’s station—is nudged and winked throughout with Owen’s aside at the “improbable” nature of it all and Glenn of course being on a first name basis with the band members (since they’re his bandmates, you see), and it’s chuckle-worthy. As is the episode ultimately being a wish-fulfillment episode. It’s just that the episode doesn’t ever really switch out of that initial gear of just being chuckle-worthy.
On the other hand, one thing that “One Million Saved” and “Show Me A Hero” have shown is that the writer behind both episodes, Krister Johnson, clearly has a very similar sense of humor to David Wain (who directed the former episode), and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are two moments in this episode that really hit the button on David Wain’s sense of humor. The first is when X performs Glenn’s song “Late Night Daydream” and everyone hates it… Even though Glenn’s song is relatively good and oddly hypnotic in that way that royalty-free stock music is often relatively good and oddly hypnotic. Then the second moment of total Waindom comes in the form of Cat’s plot ultimately being a means to a Glengarry Glen Ross ending. I’m honestly surprised that twist hasn’t been the case for more episodes of Childrens Hospital.
But like “Show Me A Hero,” “One Million Saved” also had a bit of the problem of feeling like a somewhat lacking edition of a show that’s typically able to pack so much into the 15-minute format—and that was an episode with the unstoppable comedic duo of Jon Hamm and Erinn Hayes coupled with the entire “one million saved” plot.
As for Cat’s plot, Cat not knowing how to eat a hoagie causes her to have a crisis of faith, and as far as Childrens Hospital plots go, that one really checks out. The same goes for the conclusion to the plot, especially if you keep in mind Childrens Hospital’s brand of character consistency: Cat is the serial dater who loves commitment but never actually commits. At least 80% of the staff at Childrens Hospital are exes of Cat’s, and that’s not even keeping in mind celebrities like Josh Brolin or Josh Brolin’s character from Goonies. So after all of the wooing from the different religious figureheads at Childrens, why wouldn’t she say yes to all of them and then back out? She gets caramels, a Tom Arnold meet and greet, and a $50 Amazon gift card out of it. It’s a win-win for Cat and it leads to a winning end for her plot.
Now as I’ve said more times than I can count, a weaker episode of Childrens Hospital is still a funny episode of television and a funny episode of Childrens Hospital. That’s still the case here. After all, a lot of Childrens Hospital can get by just on the cast performances alone, even an episode that cruises along like a late night daydream and has a cameo from Tom Arnold.
- Last week’s episode of Childrens Hospital had incest, professional sabotage, and Shrek The Third factor into the plot—all things seemingly tailor-made for yours truly. So I was very upset that the flu prevented me from reviewing the episode, even though Brandon Nowalk did a great job.
- “Glenn wants more respect.” Yes, that’s one way to describe this plot, episode synopsis.
- The list of bands Glenn has claimed to be in or have been in: Spirogyra (“since 1972”), Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Soundgarden, Cranberries, Kings of Leon, The Runaways, Sebadoh, The Goo Goo Dolls (“Why won’t you listen to me?!? I’m in The Goo Goo Dolls!”). Of course, the previouslies end with an “Okay, but I’m telling the truth this time,” which means that he was lying all this time when he could’ve just told them all he was in the band X. Honesty, Glenn. Honesty.
- Thanks to Glenn’s very catchy song (“love could knock me over/but I stay on the balance beam”), I went through a royalty-free music spiral this morning for much longer than expected. I’d like to say this was the first time I’d ever done such a thing, but that would be a lie. There’s a reason I had very specific links for examples.
- Cat thinking caramels were some weird Jewish thing and not understanding them is a beautiful moment.
- Tom Arnold’s bargaining chip being that he can introduce a person to Arnold Schwarzenegger also marked off the box on my “Tom Arnold should only be around for True Lies references” checklist.
- If we’re being honest, Randall Park could probably convince me to join a religion too.
- Glenn: “Hey, you going religious on us, Cat?”
Cat: “Oh, I dunno. Maybe probably not. Anyway, that’s my story. Hey, I heard you were in the band X.”