The sixth season of Childrens Hospital is finally over, and even with 14 episodes, it still doesn’t feel like enough. That’s mostly because it’s 14 episodes of about 15 minutes (if we’re lucky) a piece, often squeezing in content for about 30 minutes of television. The show was renewed for a seventh season, and even with that knowledge, the season finale, “Kick Me,” asks the very loaded question: What now? Childrens Hospital is a very self-contained, episodic series, with most episodes having a clear and present conclusion. An episode ends and the next week is a new adventure in absurdism. One would expect the season finale to follow the same structure, but that’s not actually the case with “Kick Me” (appropriately written by Rob Corddry and directed by Paul Scheer). It’s sort of a cliffhanger, and the Childrens Hospital hasn’t really ended a season like that since season one’s finale with “dead” Lola and Blake’s spin-off. The end of the episode is a typical sitcom cliffhanger on an atypical sitcom, which is somewhat new territory for Childrens Hospital.
“Kick Me” is an episode with a very straightforward, simple plot for Childrens Hospital, as it focuses exclusively on Blake’s role in the world of the show and the hospital itself. The previouslies for the episode are actually from previous episodes—not bits solely created for this particular episode—as there are six seasons of Blake being verbally, physically, and mentally abused by every one at Childrens. In fact, the episode’s previouslies don’t even begin to scratch the surface of how much Blake gets the shaft regularly in Childrens Hospital; it doesn’t even include all of the Cutter and Rory Spindell footage that could be thrown into the mix. Then the episode proper begins with Blake already being ignored by the nameless faces of Childrens, only to get a “kick me” sign placed on his back by Owen, and to deal with the apparently daily bullying that comes with being Childrens Hospital’s resident clown doctor (but not a clown, you know?).
It all then becomes a revenge riff, as Blake decides the the only way to beat them is to become their boss, as there’s an open position for head surgeon of Childrens. Blake spends the episode talking himself through everything from the meaning of Owen’s irreverent “What do you say, Blake?” to his role as Childrens’ resident Geppetto, and surprisingly, it all works out for him. Yes, it all works out Blake, and it’s not with the realization of him being bored or not knowing why he did any of it in the first place (“Sperm Bank Heist,” “Nils Vildervaan, Professional Interventiomalist”). In a season that began with him having way too much fun with the fart room that was once Owen’s office, it all ends with everything coming up Blake. He even gets the girl this time around (Rachel Blanchard).
For what the episode is, it’s perfectly serviceable. If there is such a thing as a quiet episode of Childrens Hospital, then “Kick Me” fits the bill. The revenge plan Blake goes through with isn’t as intricate as “Just Like Cyrano de Bergerac” or “Sperm Bank Heist” and the jokes aren’t as breakneck, laugh out loud as something like “Up At 5” or “27 Club.” And even though someone as terrible (relative to the rest of the characters) as Blake wins this times doesn’t mean that the episode is too bleak—that has never been a hindrance on the show.
But in a show with complexity that is often something to be in awe of, “Kick Me” is almost too simple. “Almost” is key, as the most fascinating part of it is the fact that, besides Owen’s opening line and an intercom interlude from Sal, Blake is the only person to speak in this episode. The episode literally becomes all about Owen’s initial “What do you say, Blake?” line (the “no more words” joke at the end from Blake really brings that fact home), and as lofty of a goal as it is, it only bumps the episode up to above average. Season six ends with a whimper, not a bang, and it’s a whimper where Rob Huebel, Lake Bell, and Malin Akerman are sadly not used to their full potential.
Another part of the problem is the way in which Rob Corddry hyped up the finale in his response to the show being renewed for another season: “After our season six cliffhanger, people will be dying for us to turn our backs on the notion of series continuity even more.” Now having the context, it’s obviously in response to Blake’s firing of Val, Cat, Owen, and everyone he sees who works for Childrens. The implication is that the audience will want the seventh season to begin with that decision being thrown away, or even completely ignored. But honestly, the strongest reaction from this situation is one of wondering where the show will go with this come season seven. Especially if it’s a post-apocalyptic Brazil where it’s every man for himself. If nothing else, at least one can say that the episode is a success in terms of creating excitement and intrigue for season seven.
Overall, Childrens Hospital season six is a notable improvement over the previous one, and given the show’s offerings on a week-to-week basis, there’s no doubt that the cast and crew still have so much more to offer. As we don’t live in a world where there are new episodes of Childrens Hospital every single week of the year, it’s bittersweet to say goodbye to a season that brought Childrens Hospital back into its typical groove. But it’s hard to blame the show for taking a break: It’s just doing its thing, trying to make it on this crazy ball of dirt just like everybody else.
- It has been an honor and a pleasure covering this season of Childrens Hospital for The A.V. Club. It’s been one of my favorite shows since its first season as a web series, and on simply a fan level, it never disappoints or upsets me.
- Blake: “Nurse Missy. She’s beautiful. She’s so smiley. She’s perfect. She’s all of that. And a bag of chips?! Yum!”
- So what card game do you think Cat, Val, and Owen were playing?
- Blake: “Look, a cobra in the locker’s fun every once in a while, sure. I get that kind of humor. But every day? I’ve never been treated worse than I’m treated here. Like I’m some kind of clown. I’m not a clown. I mean, I’m a clown, with the uhh and the unh. But you guys are clowns with the like, errh. Yeah, what you’re talking about that I am, you are.” This entire bit of dialogue is the episode in a nutshell.
- By the way, Val’s pills that Blake replaced with sleeping pills were A.D.D. medication.
- For me, the biggest laugh of the episode was Blake tossing the crumpled up “love” note at Missy, saying “read” as he does so.
- Blake: “I feel like Gepetto right now. He’s a puppeteer. Pinocchio. Forget it. I should’ve said Jeff Dunham.”