Children's Hospital Seasons One and Two

Children's Hospital Seasons One and Two
Collecting both the first season of five-minute webisodes and the 15 minutes apiece season two episodes aired on Adult Swim, this is a whole lot of nasty, absurdist satire packed into carefully measured doses. The schizophrenic pacing and boundless irreverence will definitely be too much for some people, but the brief run times add to the manic zeal and keeps the varied experiments in weirdness from overstaying their welcome. Creator, co-star and writer Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine) plumbs the depths of his id to rain down a firestorm of ridiculous, edgy humour upon the tropes of medical dramas. As deadly serious clown doctor Blake Downs, who believes the healing power of laughter trumps science, Corddry acts as the loosest of anchors to the often rotating cast of doctors populating this children's hospital in Brazil (but intentionally, and obviously shot in L.A.). A core staff of excellent supporting comics, including Ken Marino (Role Models), Meagan Mullally (Party Down), Rob Hueble (The Other Guys), Lake Bell and Erin Hayes remain mostly constant, though the only rule in Children's Hospital is funny – coherency and plausibility can go fornicate themselves with an anatomically correct balloon animal. These doctors hook up, make out, break up and hook up again so often that nobody knows who's boning, tongue stabbing or seeking an unrequited grope from whom, slamming the soap-opera libidos of shows like Grey's Anatomy. Lake Bell's Dr. Cat walks around with an interior monologue, resorting to random observations and lapsing into awkward silence when she runs out of trite philosophical musings. The jokes come with breakneck ferocity and a shocking and delightful disregard for appropriateness that fans of South Park will likely appreciate, and those with more delicate sensibilities will be royally offended by. For example, a conservative senator tries to convince Lola (Erin Hayes) to abort his 16-year-old son, his wife agreeing that it's unusual, but not too late, while Cat makes whoopee with a six-year-old with a rare aging disease. And… well, almost everything Ken Marino or Rob Heuble say is bound to either have you in stitches or leaving the room in disgust. There are meta-layers upon layers of meta-satire, with Corddry going so far as to play himself playing Cutter Spindel, who plays Blake Downs, who based his performance on the persona producer/director David Wain (Stella, Role Models) presents when appearing as himself on the show. Um, right, and yes please! "Adult Swim Wraparounds" on season one's special features see Corddry employing his jet-black deadpan to tell troubling, purposefully boring or egomaniacal tales about the fictional inspiration for the show and "Dr. Owen Maestro Answers Questions From Kids" is just what it sounds like, with Rob Hueble dishing out a formidable deadpan of his own. Playing everything so straight and literal is a big part of what makes this show work and that extends to the features for season two. "The Man Inside the Man Behind Children's Hospital" is more of Corddry's playful, semi-psychotic gallows humour applied to the examination of his fictional alter ego and the "Gag Reel" is actually a montage of cast members gagging. "Outtakes and Deleted Scenes" has the characters breaking into laughter and frequent hysterical alternate line readings you might have been expecting in a typical gag reel. And for good measure, a complete version of the "I Killed Cancer" music video is included. I could easily continue to recount innumerable examples of this show's particularly warped funny bone, but starting at five minutes a pop, you should probably just give it a shot if no cows are sacred to you, unless they taste good. (Warner)