The work of Charles Darwin has always proven to be a bit of a cumbersome to discuss, particularly when there are people who can't do math or have a complete lack of a brain in the room. And yet, time and time again, there have been little bits and pieces of various stuff and things throughout the bulk of history that seem to indicate Darwin's theory of natural selection is in fact alive and well. Naturally, I cannot speak for the whole of the human race - that would just be silly. And I should perhaps clarify that I am not attempting to speak on the human race's behalf, but rather about them - as I have met many an unfortunate that would prove the notion that some people exist for no reason whatsoever.
Speaking of things that exist for no reason whatsoever, this takes me to the topic at hand here: Childrens Hospital. Not having anything even resembling cable and not being the type of person to willingly indulge in the viewing of any sort of item that can be labelled as a "webisode", I had absolutely no friggin' clue Childrens Hospital existed - or what it even was, for that matter. So when Childrens Hospital: The Complete Fifth Season showed up on my doorstep, I did my trademark "cautiously raises eyebrow" move and decided to give it a shot.
Lo and behold, ladies and gentlemen, something finally came along to prove Darwin's theory as being correct. I think. Originally having started out as a five-minute web series on TheWB.com, Childrens Hospital has since evolved into an actual bona fide television series - stretching its brief runtime out to the nearly unfathomable length of approximately eleven minutes per episode. While its basic premise - a spoof of the countless hospital dramas that have been broadcast in one form or another over the better part of the last century - is nothing new, there is nevertheless something unmistakingly sublimely genius about the way Childrens Hospital presents itself.
For starters, you certainly have no idea what sort of gag is going to fly out of comedy's left field here. At the conclusion of the previous season, series creator/writer/star Rob Corddry - who portrays clown doctor Blake Downs, who is actually descended from an actual race of clowns, but who is really an actor portraying an actor portraying such (in keeping up with the absurd plot twists your average soap opera tosses at viewers on a weekly basis) - was killed. No biggie. As Childrens Hospital: The Complete Fifth Season opens, one of many clones of Dr. Downs is thawed out from the basement and given a brief history of its life. This, naturally, makes way for one accident after another, as one problem after another befalls the clones and their caretaker (Steve Agee).
Meanwhile, the rest of the cast - which itself has evolved over the course of the last four seasons to include, among others, Henry Winkler (who essentially plays the part exactly like he did Barry Zuckerkorn in Arrested Development), but which still randomly drops and adds performers (to no doubt allow their own professional schedules, while still giving the series a humorous quality in the process) - confronts a new dilemma: relocation. While the location of the series was previously, supposedly set in Brazil - for no reason, and with no attempt to convince you of the same, mind you - have to move to a new Childrens Hospital in Japan. Granted, Japan looks exactly like Brazil, which looked exactly like Southern California. (At least Childrens Hospitaldoesn't try to cheapen the joke like JJ Abrams does by simply adding a tint filter to the shot, right?)
But dealing with Japanese are the least of their worries. In fact, we rarely see them - save for a tongue-in-cheek homage to Witness, which even concludes with an announcement by PA system operator Michael Cera clueing in the younger generation as to what the whole spoof was about in that episode. Another episodes focuses on a casual weekend wedding featuring some of the show's younger folk - Lake Bell, Ken Marino, Rob Huebel - getting together to spend a weekend with significant others (including a fake "Weird Al" Yankovic, which then features a cameo by thereal "Weird Al" as a younger Justin Kirk) only to be host to the murder of Marino's nagging mute wife (she signs - a lot) and a bevy of infidelities bigger than the everyday operations at a Las Vegas brothel.
Comedienne Erinn Hayes gets a chance to show off her awful impersonations - which are good in this universe, of course - to with she is hired by an ex-lover (Jordan Peele) to use her skills in a secret government operation (rugged training course montage included). Former (unfunny) SNL man Brian Doyle-Murray gets a chance to prove to the world that he is still alive as an imaginary Santa Claus in a ward full of other imaginary friends. Former (funny) "Man of a 10,000 Sound Effects" Michael Winslow (Police Academy) pops up for a quick paycheck in another episode, while William Atherton and returning heavy heavy Nick Offerman also make appearances in this 13-episode series - which, thanks to the short runtime of the show, lasts just over two-and-a-half hours.
Thanks to Corddry's selection of cast and crew experienced in improvisational comedy and the fact that the universe he has created requires absolutely no explanation for its bizarre happenings, I'm happy to say that Childrens Hospital is one of those rare modern comedies that actually comes off as being the funny. And with our very own real world besieged by at least one new Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow flick every year, this is a godsend. But what's most intriguing of all is how Childrens Hospital keeps comin' along - despite having no large viewership or genuine form of advertising. Even the recent one-disc release of Childrens Hospital: The Complete Fifth Season seems to not be that big of a to-do.
I guess this is just one of those things that people do simply because they enjoy doing it. Granted, one can say the exact same thing about Judd Apatow or Adam Sandler. The difference, of course, is that Childrens Hospital is actually original and funny. Ultimately, it's a natural selection. One I think even Darwin would approve of. At least, that's my theory.
Recommended. (Oh, and Season Six is scheduled to premiere in 2015, incidentally.)