Saturday, July 9, 2011

Childrens Hospital goes back to "The '70s Episode"

Childrens Hospital: Complete First & Second Seasons     Cartoon Network's Childrens' Hospital goes back in time this week in "The '70s Episode," visiting a story shown only in brief flashes thus far. When Dr. Brian (Jordan Peele) "returned" to Childrens' Hospital, the series gave viewers a glimpse of his tenure in the 1970's, but "The '70s Episode" is set completely in that time. Among the highlights of the episode are a much older looking Dr. Childrens (NOT Jon Hamm), Dr. Lola Spratt (Erinn Hayes) arriving as the first lady doctor, Glenn (Ken Marino) starting work after returning from Vietnam, and learning that Chief's (Megan Mullally) real name is Chief because of she is a full-blooded Native American, despite not appearing as such. Like most episodes of Childrens' Hospital, there is little overarching plot, but it is another funny ten minutes.

     Apparently, Brazil is good for the skin, because all of the main characters, aside from dates hairstyles and costumes, look exactly the same. It is great seeing them in this manner, and is likely wonderful fun, not just for the actors, but also the costume and set people that get to transform the entire hospital. Every second of the episode is packed with 1970s references and memorabilia, including an entire operating scene with the dialogue ripped from a commercial for the game Operation. The 'previously on' features many characters just saying the names of things from the '70s with no context. Childrens' Hospital seems to set out to inundate the viewer with as much period-specific detail as possible, until it's over the top and in your face. In a hilarious way.

     "The '70s Episode" also ends with an orgy among the staff. While many previous episodes have featured various doctors hooking up with each other, never before has everyone engaged in such a crazy act all together. Are they saying that people were more free about sex in the 1970s? It's possible, but doubtful that orgies were common place then. 

     Childrens' Hospital works, though, because of the hilarious cast and witty jokes, not because of continuity or complex storytelling, both of which are mostly lacking. The only thing I wish was different is by the end, it would be cool if Owen (Rob Huebel) quit the hospital to become a police officer, as it has been revealed and referenced many times that he once served in law enforcement, so if he works in a hospital in the 1970s, it would be conceivable that he quits being a doctor to be a cop, then later goes back.

     Sad as it is, news broke recently that the hospital where much of Childrens' Hospital is shot, the same one used in Scrubs, has been torn down. While a similar place may be found, maybe even one that looks more like it's in Brazil, the country where supposedly the story takes place, even though practically every actor in the series is white. But none will have the charm of the building that has carried several television shows through. It will be missed.

     Childrens' Hospital, unlike the hospital, should not be missed. Watch it Thursday nights at midnight on Cartoon Network.

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     Please click here to buy the first two seasons of Childrens' Hospital on DVD.

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