Unlike so many shows, Childrens Hospital isn’t bogged down by trivial things like plot arcs or character consistency. Every week, this show can be whatever it wants to be, a show about a sperm bank heist or a show where we discover one of the show’s main characters has been a shaved ape for six seasons. Childrens Hospital also has one of the greatest comedic casts on TV today and a desire to try as many new crazy ideas as possible.
This sixth season has been notable for the obvious difficulties of getting the entire cast together in one place. Most of the time it’s almost distracting and it does occasionally allow for characters like Sy and Chief to finally get in the spotlight. But what I’ve personally enjoyed about this sixth season’s difficulty in navigating its shrinking cast is that it allows the show to try and make do and see what they can create with what they have.
“Home Life of a Doctor” is the most evident example of Childrens Hospital’s dwindling cast, by having only Glenn Richie appear, with a quick appearance from Dory at the very beginning. Yet when you have such a great script (this week from Rachel Axler), David Wain directing and Ken Marino as the episode’s focus, all that’s going to come out is gold.
“Home Life of a Doctor” is Childrens Hospital’s brilliant take on Woody Allen films, specifically the ones that starred Allen himself. According to Glenn, every Friday night he goes to the Jewish suburbs of Sao Paolo, Brazil (which as we all know is where they are right now) to visit his parents for their weekly Jewish Shabbat dinner. Glenn’s family might be a little weird but hey, they’re family.
What follows is the expected flurry of extremely exaggerated Jewish stereotypes, to the point that they don’t even make sense. For example, the Shabbat dinner has such Richie family staples as pickled red wine—red wine with a giant pickle in it—and Jewish nuts. We meet all of Glenn’s family, which includes the consistently disappointed mother, the father who is listening to the game and constantly confused about everything going on around him, the much more successful brother who just published a paper on kidney things and the neighbor Esther Blechblatt, who Glenn has always pined for.
“Home Life of a Doctor” works so perfectly because of Marino, who is always fantastic at playing nervous, frustrated and over-his-head, a side of him we rarely get to see from the rock star surgeon on Childrens Hospital. Not only is his family overbearing, but his brother Leo (played by Ben Feldman of Mad Men) is dating Esther, everyone keeps talking about how Leo’s thick dick is better than Glenn’s, and then of course Rabbi Jewy McJewjew shows up to make Glenn’s life even worse than usual. Marino really shows off his genius in a big speech he gives the entire family, which is a solid minute of stammering through nonsense that somehow makes complete sense.
The Richie family is expectedly hilarious and also gives us the very welcome return of Seth Morris as Glenn’s brother-in-law, but the episode’s greatest moments come between Glenn and Leo. It turns out that Leo isn’t as successful as everyone believes him to be. He doesn’t live in a fancy house, he lives in a crack den. He doesn’t work in a hospital, he works in the same crack den that he lives in. He’s also not a doctor, he sells crack. He’s also very, very addicted to crack. Feldman plays the disturbing guy pretty well, pretty easy for a guy most well known for playing a character who cut his own nipple off, and it would be great to see more of the Richie family and Leo later on the show. But alas, due to Childrens Hospital’s incoherent continuity, this will probably be the last time we ever see them.
This second half of season six rank alongside some of the best episodes of the series. Childrens Hospital has presented some incredibly fun situations and made each episode dense with an insane amount of jokes. This last few episodes have been like the best episodes of Childrens Hospital, but on crack.
But that could just be because of the crack.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.