Insanity might be Childrens Hospital’s biggest strength, since the show goes places that are sometimes weird even by Adult Swim standards. Yet the problem with being a show that is this crazy is that it’s hard to tie that insanity into an actual story, especially when a typical episode of Childrens Hospital follows at least three different plot lines. “27 Club” however is one of the best examples of how Childrens Hospital can combine these insane characters and their insane stories and have them all sync up in a brilliant way.
Sam Sklaver’s script for “27 Club” is so great in that it makes all three of the episode’s stories feel like the main plot, until it turns out they all sort of are. On the eve of Glenn’s 27th birthday, Chet lets Childrens Hospital’s rock star surgeon Glenn know that every great rock star dies when they hit 27, everyone from Jimi Hendrix to founding keyboardist of The Grateful Dead Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Playing by typical Childrens Hospital rules, Chet points out that a new day won’t start until Glenn goes to sleep, so Chet hooks up the rock star with a bag of amphetamines. After hitting the drugs hard, he goes through a full night of surgeries so pumped, he doesn’t ever realize he cut off his own finger.
Meanwhile in an attempt to become friends with Owen, Blake takes Owen’s advice to “ditch the unicycle and get yourself a two-cycle. I’m talking about a fucking bike.” Blake immediately joins Owen’s apparent bike gang, that likes to constantly shoot themselves up with steroids right in the butt. In the hospital, Chief has decided to take a staycation/poor person’s vacation at the hospital, where she meets Rob Forster’s Don, a Vietnam vet and widower who teaches Chief the excitement of eating dark chocolate over 50% pure. Once she tries 72% pure dark chocolate, there’s no going back for Chief.
Each of these arcs are equally hilarious, from the overconfidence and lack of caring that Glenn has lost his finger, to the incredible one-liners delivered by Owen as he condescends to Blake, to the sheer ridiculousness of Chief’s burgeoning chocolate addiction. Every aspect works here, right to the very end, when all three get their drugs of choice mixed together and believe themselves to have found a miracle drug that can grow back fingers and limbs, makes Glenn, Chief and Blake all superstar doctors and places them on magazine covers and as the three new co-presidents of Childrens Hospital. By the time they’re all flying with Glenn claiming they’re higher than god, it makes sense when we see what has really happened and that all three of them are actually just OD’ing in the bathroom on their weird drug concoction.
It makes complete sense that this fantastic episode is directed by Lake Bell, who also directed “Just Like Cyrano de Bergerac,” another episode that could’ve really failed had the directing not been handled in just the right way. Bell also just has a way of making her episodes feel more cinematic and exciting to look at than most other episodes.
Childrens Hospital has been on a roll lately with some great episodes that utilize the strengths of the weirdness that makes this show so great. This season started off slightly rocky, but as we near the end, it’s incredible that we’re getting possibly some of the series’ best episodes in its sixth season.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.