One of the best and strangest things Childrens Hospital does is peel back the curtain on the behind-the-scenes antics of the show within the show. In season two, that first happened through the lens of Newsreaders With Louis La Fonda, who shared with us all his love of Kate Walsh and also introduced us to the non-Cutter Spindell actors of Childrens Hospital’s Childrens Hospital. Fast forward to 2014, and season two of the Newsreaders spin-off (now with Reagan Biscayne) throws in a Talking Dead style spoof at the end of one of its episodes, including Childrens Hospital’s own Ingrid (Malin Akerman) as a guest. Season four’s “Behind The Scenes” and season five’s “My Friend Falcon” took this bit to another next level, one which “Up At 5” maintains—and possibly even transcends.
While “Fan Fiction” was a terrific season six episode for the amount of commitment and attention to detail in the bit, and “Just Like Cyrano de Bergerac” was a staggering work of tomfoolery, “Up At 5” is the latest piece in the constantly evolving “behind-the-scenes” story of Childrens Hospital. For an actual show that’s not known for its continuity (and is actually lauded for that, as it allows it to be anything it wants to be at any given time), these types of episode feature an amazing attention to detail, both for the characters and the situations they face in each episode. The fact that episodes as experimental as “Behind The Scenes” (when Lynn Williams and Dixie Peters’ rivalry is revealed) and “My Friend Falcon” (where David Wain has his mental breakdown) are even considered canon and play a role in this particular episode is absolutely impressive.
Plus, because of the death of his brother Cutter and his replacement of him as Blake Downs, Rory Spindell (who mostly does movies and theatre) is also in this episode, as the most hated member of the entire Childrens Hospital cast and the only one not written into the movie.
Given the eternal life of Childrens Hospital, it makes “sense” that the cast members would want to make a movie about it. As other behind-the-scenes episodes have shown, you can admit yourself into Childrens Hospital, but you can never leave. Not even if you have your own spin-off and/or Childrens Hospital gets cancelled. Childrens Hospital can never die, and that is their cross to bear. So the cast and crew going the crowd-funding route to achieve their $13 million budgetary goal for their “vanity project” is great, as none of them would ever shell out their own money when they can fool poor saps into doing it with lame incentives and obvious disinterest.
In the case of Rory Spindell, he falls into both categories, as he is clearly too self-involved to have just funded the movie himself (at least in part), and yet he ends up doing exactly that, just to get the “upper-hand”: a walk-on role in the movie David Wain had just moments before made abundantly clear he would never be in.
While there has definitely been some weakness (or at least peculiarities) in this season’s episodes because of the cast appearances and disappearances, the show’s tactics with regards to this have become increasingly more ridiculous, and it’s all for the better. Here in “Up At 5, the interchangeability and absence of cast members is again also somewhat part of the show, as the talk show interview clearly has only scheduled four Childrens Hospital cast members, but then Dixie Peters (who, unlike Cat Black, is not pregnant—she’s just really all about that cake) crashes her way into it, David Wain becomes the surprise guest of the show, and “Weird Al” Yankovic is just… there.
Constance Wu (riding that Fresh Off The Boat high, no doubt) and Bil Dwyer’s wide-eyed (yet dead-eyed), caffeine-driven, robotic reactions to everything as Up @ 5 co-hosts Pepsi Lamarr and Alan Stack, respectively, are tremendous. They capture the ”who gives a fuckery” of being on a morning talk show at 5 a.m., and they do it with terrifying empty abandon:
Pepsi: “There’s only two things in this world that I love. Lace trouser socks—
Alan: “And your husband Bill!”
Pepsi: “Yes. And the hit series Childrens Hospital. Now, have you seen this show Alan?”
Alan: “I have not!”
Pepsi: “So have I! Every episode. Tape, DVR, on a plane, side of a bus. I’m naming things, Alan.”
Nothing Pepsi and Alan say makes a difference to anyone, and that’s why they have no problem running with any of it. In fact, their insane enthusiasm for everything that is going on is sure to perk you right up, even when you’re watching the episode at midnight on Adult Swim. It doesn’t hurt that the episode does an absurd amount of quick cuts (kudos to the direction of Paul Scheer, by the way) during their introduction, which only makes it even more chaotic early on. Also, it should not be a surprise to anyone at this point, but I’ll say it as though it might be: Constance Wu needs to be in every good to great show from here until the end of time.
Plus, the episode is just absolutely hilarious. It’s insanely quick in the joke factory department, and as soon as the credits start to roll in Up @ 5 (before the scene from the Childrens Hospital movie), there’s that amazing moment of wishing the episode could go on for a full half-hour of this chaos. The making of the Childrens Hospital movie could fill a whole episode itself, especially since the finished product is apparently a gritty, post-apocalyptic action film with shades of Star Wars and badassery. In fact, a whole season of that could be comedy gold. At this point, Childrens Hospital obviously still has a lot left in the tank—because again, it can be about anything—but if Rob Corddry and company ever wanted to do a season just based on these characters within the characters (you know what I meant), it would surely be a worthwhile experiment.
Dixie Peters at least needs another chance to get her ghost doctor spin-off off the ground.
- Based on the promo for next week’s episode, it turns out “Just Like Cyrano de Bergerac” was right: “Koontz is Koontz is Koontz.”
- Also based on the promo for next week’s episode: Michael Cera as Sal Viscuso is back.
- “You’re gorgeous, you know that, don’t you? Beautiful.” You gotta laugh at how this is Ingrid Hagerstown’s equivalent to “How do you juggle work and family?”
- It’s also great to see that the pronunciation of “Huebel” is still flip-flopping. I’ve always been partial to the original “Hoybull” pronunciation.
- Gay Ben Affleck really was a good guess for who Mark Matt the Weatherman (Mike McCafferty) was dressed as.
- Pepsi, you can’t be obsessed with everything. Alan, you can’t keep expecting turtles to be surprises. Let the dreams die.
- Dixie and Lynn’s “game on”/”gay mon” rivalry from “Behind The Scenes” continues in all of its petty and immature glory (complete with “coughing messages”) as soon as Dixie arrives at the talk show, and now we know that a post-”looney bin” David left Dixie to return to Lynn. Also, Lynn is apparently Childrens Hospital fans’ “third favorite female doctor” on the show. How things have changed since the ‘70s.
- With Rory’s “Eat it!” breakdown, we get a “Special Appearance By” “Weird Al” Yankovic. Time to rewatch “Country Weekend.”
- Let’s start a crowd-funding campaign to get the rest of that Newsreaders Kate Walsh interview released.