Medical Police

1 out of 5

Created by: Rob Corddry, Krister Johnson, Jonathan Stern and David Wain

covers season 1

Yow, disappointment: thy name is Medical Police.

It definitely took me some time to come around on Children’s Hospital / Childrens Hospital.  I dug the super-compressed soap opera shtick of the web series, but the ‘stretch’ to 11-minute Adult Swim episodes upped the plotting requirements and made things drag for bit until the show re-found its rhythm.  Once it did, though, the show became an AS highlight, for me, ‘maturing’ in to its own specific breed of nonsense and childishness.

Childrens Hospital having ended, Medical Police – a spin-off -was, therefore, an exciting prospect: giving Rob Corddry’s creation the opportunity to find a new genre to parody with its premise of doctors (namely Erinn Hayes’ Lola Spratt and Rob Huebel’s Owen Maestro) swapped in to a secret branch of the CDC as ‘medical police’ in order to combat a sudden virus outbreak.  Episodes of Childrens had definitely gone down this kind of route before (seven seasons allowed for plenty of episode variety…), but seeing the style applied to an apparently serialized story over 10 half hour parts sounded like a comedy cure I needed.

…But we’re reminded that going from 5-minutes to 11 took some adjustment.  Expanding to 20ish seemingly requires even more.

The first episode of the season is very promising.  It’s wonderfully stupid, has plenty of returning Childrens cast, and is nicely packed with visual and dialogue gags, energized by the willful stupidity of its ‘you two doctors are the only ones who can save us!’ style plot.  After having some good yuks at that ep, though, I’m pretty sure my laugh meter dropped to bobbing between a 0 and 1.  Comparisons to Childrens floated through my head: why did a gag about a fart room make me laugh on that show, but a ‘dance party’ filled with farts on Medical Police made me want to turn the series off?  Such mysteries will likely haunt me for the rest of my days.  Lake Bell, Corddry, and Ken Marino show up with some funny bits, but man they are all fighting against a script that gives them one joke for a five minute scene, and then you have guys like Jason Schwartzman who has a funny name and accent and…?  And…?  I was constantly shocked (but in a bored, disinterested way) at how episodes would build up to a joke, deliver it half-heartedly, do some character exchanges to set up the next beat of a joke, and then not do anything.  That first, half-delivered joke is all you get.  At least when CH went to 11 minutes, the extra time was spent trying to be funny; Medical Police just fills it up with, like, story?  I guess?  Knowing full well that its story is completely weightless and is intended just to be padding against which to bounce its jokes…

It’s bizarre how flat the show is.  The final episode brings back some of the opening’s charm, but that is waaaay too little too late.  These are talented people, though, and I am kinda hoping we get a second season on the fingers-crossed hoped that the show can successfully find a 30-minute rhythm.  But, whoof, my expectations kept getting lower and lower as the show went on, and even bottomed out, I wasn’t smiling.