TV

'Children's Hospital' is a sick little spoof

On Childrens Hospital, Drs. Nate Schacter (Seth Morris), left, and Blake Downs (series creator Rob Corddry) think laughter is the best medicine, literally. The show started out on the Web, then moved to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.
On Childrens Hospital, Drs. Nate Schacter (Seth Morris), left, and Blake Downs (series creator Rob Corddry) think laughter is the best medicine, literally. The show started out on the Web, then moved to Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

LOS ANGELES — Long before the staff members of Childrens Hospital were being such cutups on Adult Swim, their antics were available as webisodes.

That's where creator Rob Corddry and cast members Megan Mullally, Lake Bell, Erinn Hayes, Malin Ackerman, Henry Winkler, Ken Marino and Rob Huebel first practiced their comedy spoofs of medical shows.

If you missed the Web shows — or even the first two seasons on Adult Swim, as the Cartoon Network's programming from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. each day is known — Childrens Hospital: The Complete First and Second Seasons is out on DVD this week. Season three begins June 2 on Adult Swim.

Shifting from the Web to cable was a snap.

"Not a lot has changed, actually. The great thing about being on Adult Swim is that it's pretty much the Internet of television. We can get away with whatever we want," says Corddry, who plays Dr. Blake Downs.

What they do is blend medicine with the personal struggles of a sex-crazy staff.

Because the series started as five- to six-minute shows, Corddry didn't think its frantic humor — a one-hour medical show shown in one-fourth the time — could be expanded.

"I said I would never do it on television, because I didn't think it would sustain itself longer than 51/2 minutes. I think at 11 minutes, 15 seconds, we reach our saturation point," Corddry says. "So, I can guarantee you it will never be longer than that.

Shorter or longer, one thing that hasn't changed is the irreverent humor. Mullally, who plays Chief, says she is convinced that if a serious moment ever slipped into an episode, it would throw the entire show off balance.

For instance, the show's Web site features this promotional pitch: "Childrens Hospital is an award-winning facility where happy and healthy children are looked after by doctors who deeply care about them and the overall well-being of their community. That whole sentence was a lie."

As for those who try the show and are outraged by the jokes about race, sex, medicine, terminal illness, weight problems and handicaps, Childrens Hospital writer David Wain has a suggestion.

"I have great respect for anyone who is offended by this show. There are thousands of shows," he says. "So you can watch something else if you don't want to watch this."

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