In a show like Childrens Hospital, where every episode is interchangeable and can be transmuted into any type of comedy, “Fan Fiction” is a brilliant idea. Going back to more of the season one, “show-within-a-show” idea, it’s not only a parody of bad fan-fic, but also just a general parody of people who genuinely believe they could write a better episode of a TV show they love. With the latter idea, “Fan Fiction” works wonderfully, however with the straight up fan fiction parody, Childrens Hospital goes into the rare mode of taking on the most obvious targets.
“Fan Fiction” begins with David Wain interviewing the winner of a Superfan contest, who will get their fan-fiction for Childrens Hospital turned into an actual episode of the show. The winner Carol Torton—played by Liz Cackowski—has written plenty of fan-fiction for Star Trek, Buffy and The Daily Show, and her episode entitled “The Lovers, The Fighters, The Heroes (Or Who Cures the Doctor But the Moon and Blood?)” focuses on who she believes to be the show’s true star, Nurse Beth.
Torton has had some help from the writers staff of Childrens Hospital, such as the inclusion of a ticking clock to help the episode build to something. The better of the two plots focuses on these ideas and is filled with clear medical knowledge copy and pasted from Wikipedia (Chief even yells “citation needed!” at a critical moment) and poorly hidden exposition. Most of the hospital is trying to help a girl who has diarrhea, or in layman’s terms, The Runs. She also has a bomb in her butt, which leads to Nick Offerman finally returning as Detective Chance Briggs, former partner of Doctor Owen Maestro.
This plot works due to the thinly veiled writer at the helm. The story ends with Torton appearing as Dr. Caroline Montague to save the day, then pulling a literal ticking clock out of the patient’s butt. The patient just so happens to be her daughter Padme, who got a clock in her tushie because she stayed up too late once. Just the amount of passive-aggression it takes to go this far to teach your daughter a lesson is the hilariously insane level that Childrens Hospital thrives at.
The secondary plot here, which actually focuses on Nurse Beth, isn’t quite as good due to it focusing on the low-hanging fruit of the fan-fic universe. Beth is in love with Maestro, who lathers on sunscreen due to his overwhelming paleness. Oh and because he’s a vampire that sparkles in the sun. Fighting for the affection of Beth is Dr. Glenn Richie, who has a Christian Grey-level amount of sex toys in his office and also just happens to be a werewolf. Making fun of Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey has Childrens Hospital taking on the obvious targets, but it still mostly works due to Rob Huebel and Ken Marino’s vampire-werewolf sex scene that should absolutely spawn its own series of fan-fiction.
“Fan Fiction” is at its best when it’s making its own original jokes, rather than taking on the on-the-nose targets. It can still pull off both incredibly well, but the originality here works much better than the more obvious takedowns.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.