This Medical Police review contains no spoilers.
“We’re American doctors.”
“And apparently also now cops.”
“It’s a big concept we’re still wrapping our heads around.”
We live in an age of reboots, remakes, legacy sequels, and a time where the price of nostalgia has never been higher. Medical Police, a Netflix spinoff to Adult Swim’s Childrens Hospital technically subscribes to that trend, but it’s more concerned with having fun and making you laugh than it is in reviving a dormant franchise. If you liked Childrens Hospital, then you’ll love Medical Police. This series may be the continuation of a cult comedy that perhaps wasn’t being asked for, but it’s still extremely worthwhile and just so much fun to have these friends creating absurdist comedy together again. It doesn’t matter whether it’s wacky pediatrics or zany police work.
Childrens Hospital wasn’t just a flagship comedy for Adult Swim, it was the series that helped the network transition over into live-action programming, which helped revolutionize its content. Childrens Hospital expertly used medical dramas as the jumping off point for an absurd universe of outlandish proportions. There was a lot to love in Childrens Hospital, whether it was the ridiculous stories, the relentless pace of the jokes, or the murderers’ row of talented comedians that are assembled for this series. Childrens Hospital ended its seven-year run while it was still on top, which makes its unexpected return via this spin-off, Medical Police, such a satisfying surprise. This comedy series pivots more towards the action genre, but it’s still very much the same variety of manic silliness.
Medical Police really leans into the intentionally strained spin-off angle, both in terms of its premise and the over the top ways in which it introduces Lola (Erinn Hayes) and Owen (Rob Huebel) as the new central characters. In keeping with the tradition of classic sitcom spin-offs, various Childrens Hospital characters make “guest appearances” that are also strategically peppered throughout the season so Lola and Owen aren’t the only familiar faces here. It’s also a strategy that gets the most out of each of these individual characters, rather than turning them into supporting members of a large ensemble. Medical Police is strong enough that it doesn’t have to rely on such past connections, yet they’re always entertaining and typically have fun with how tenuous they are in the first place.
All of the actors in Childrens Hospital are so damn talented that any of them could easily headline their own spin-off, but Hayes and Huebel are the perfect choices to lead Medical Police. Their relationship fluctuates in fun ways where they both get the opportunity to play the straight one and the fool of the duo. It’s a dynamic that works and also allows them to dig deeper into police procedural tropes.
Both actors are such fun in this show, but Erinn Hayes’ facial gestures and mannerisms are so fantastic. She also gets to deliver some exceptionally verbose and melodramatic monologues. She’s always performing and it’s a joy to watch. Her unexpected delivery of lines or the way in which she works through scenes is exactly why she’s migrated over to this series. There’s fantastic chemistry between Hayes and Huebel, but Hayes is often a one-woman show of her own.
A virus at the hospital is what spins Spratt and Maestro off into their medical police investigation. Before they know it, it looks like they may be caught up in the middle of a worldwide terrorist attack and conspiracy plot. This series basically takes a serialized crime approach to the Childrens Hospital model. Part of the fun here is that Medical Police builds to these huge cliffhangers at the end of each episode, only to immediately defuse them at the start of the next entry.
To that point, the show’s episodes vary in length between 22 minutes and a half hour, which is a shift from the 11-minute installments of Childrens Hospital. Childrens Hospital was always worried to transition over to a full half-hour because it might have come at the expense of overloading audiences with the sheer amount of insanity at play. Medical Police doesn’t buckle under this additional runtime and finds a healthy balance between story and nonsense.
Each episode of Medical Police finds surprisingly creative, hilarious ways to subvert crime show tropes. The show appears to have a bigger budget than Childrens Hospital ever did, but there are still some wonderful jokes that skirt their way around fancy set pieces and poke fun at their limited resources. One of the best jokes from the season involves the convoluted rules to a high stakes game of cards and there’s an especially chaotic episode that revolves around an extreme prison break. The series is still able to effectively bring hectic action sequences to life, even if the primary purpose is to lampoon them for laughs. There are some fantastically stupid sight gags that feel reminiscent of the Marx Brothers that will make you belly laugh over how simultaneously dumb and smart they are. There’s a moment in the finale that literally becomes a live-action version of a gag from out of Looney Tunes.
Spratt and Maestro hop across the globe (to a humorously excessive degree) as they piece together clues to figure out who’s behind this lethal virus and how they can stop it from spreading even further. Each episode sees Lola and Owen bond a little further and they revisit their pasts in creative ways. Their respective skills turn them into quite the formidable team. Yes, they’re largely fools, but so is everyone within this exaggerated universe. By the show’s standards they’re accomplished enough to keep the world safe from disaster.
As much as this show is a celebration of Lola and Owen, there are also a slew of fun, new characters that they’re forced to cooperate with. Their new handler, Sloane McInytre (Sarayu Blue) and CDC Director Patten (Tom Wright), make for stoic, no-nonsense foils for these two lunatics to bounce off of. There’s also a Terminator-esque assassin that’s hunting them down all season, too. Some of the best jokes of the show come from this universe’s exaggerated sense of humor being placed on a John Wick or T-1000 kind of murder machine. Medical Police also packs in some really impressive guest stars throughout the season that make for delightful surprises.
Medical Police is such a fun show that even if you’re completely checked out of the plot, it’s still densely packed with strong jokes. The big answer to the season’s mystery and the payoff to this virus outbreak are also extremely satisfying and very in-line with the show’s trademark absurdity. In spite of the rampant amount of silliness and parody, Medical Police creates a shockingly layered story that surpasses the scope of what you’d expect in a comedy of this nature. The series even somehow briefly fits in some NewsReaders content and fully allows this strange universe to further expand and gain depth.
Medical Police is absolutely mandatory viewing and a worthwhile continuation of the comedic pandemonium that Rob Corddry, David Wain, and Jonathan Stern created with Childrens Hospital. The series justifies its return, is more than a one-note joke, and will repair your sadness through the healing power of laughter.
The entire ten-episode first season of Medical Police premieres on Netflix on January 10th
This review is based on all ten 22-minute episodes from Medical Police’s first season
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, and Bloody Disgusting. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and that Hannibal is the greatest love story ever told. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.