Adult Swim has been the home for many influential pieces of alternative comedy, but Childrens Hospital is a series that helped the fledgling network establish their brand. The Dadaist comedy helped bring live-action to the programming block as well as an enviable cast and crew of comedic talent.
Childrens Hospital was a jewel in Adult Swim’s line-up for the seven seasons that it ran. However, the series has decided to gloriously return in the form of a police procedural parody series on Netflix, Medical Police. Medical Police retains the absurdity of Childrens Hospital, but gives it a glossy action makeover and makes Drs. Owen Maestro (Rob Huebel) and Lola Spratt (Erinn Hayes) the series’ driving forces. The result is one of Netflix’s silliest series in ages and a very worthy follow-up to Childrens Hospital.
We got the opportunity to talk with Rob Huebel and Erinn Hayes about their return to the characters Owen Maestro and Lola Spratt, how Medical Police differs from Childrens Hospital, and their favorite moments from subverting action tropes.
DEN OF GEEK: How did the idea for this spin-off first come about? Was it something that you all had discussed for a while or did Netflix suggest it?
ROB HUEBEL: I think that basically they looked at the cast of Childrens Hospital and who are the sexiest people? Who has that “it factor” to get people to binge? Obviously that’s me, but then they asked who else? Naturally they fell on Erinn because we were both the youngest and sexiest cast members of Childrens Hospital.
ERINN HAYES: I am all on board with this answer. But for real, this idea didn’t come from Netflix but more so this crew wanting to dive back into this world, but in a new way. We did seven seasons of the classic 11-minute format, so an opportunity to actually do a series with an arc seemed like a new and different way to explore these characters. That’s just where they landed.
You touched on this series’ more serialized approach. Was that a fun dimension to explore?
EH: It was weird at first, right Rob? We’d be breaking down each individual moment to be like, “Well what’s funny about this?” and then they’d say, “No, this is just action.”
RH: It’s definitely different to do a longer show that’s actually 30 minutes long. Back with Childrens Hospital, it was 11 minutes long including a commercial break. So to spread that world out, but still keep the same tone—like Childrens is pretty known for just fucking out there absurd comedy—it was a challenge to figure out how to do that in a longer format, but still create something where people are invested enough to jump into the next episode. That’s what Netflix is all about. Trying to figure out how to make this a bingeable thing was the mission of Rob Corddry, Jonathan Stern, and Krister Johnson. They broke this idea of deciding to make it this wild action thriller that still maintains that insane quality. It was all a blast though since Erinn and I get to do most of the heavy lifting in this. We basically become action stars for this thing.
I love so much that the first episode is ostensibly another installment of Childrens Hospital that then morphs into this new show. Was that always how the first episode played out or were there a bunch of different ideas considered?
EH: It’s possible, but when I saw the script it was pretty much what we had in the show. I’m not sure if there’d be another way to do it without starting in the world that the audience already knows with established characters and then kind of jump into new uncharted territory. But you know, I wonder if they did mess around with different approaches.
RH: It’s that trick of trying to be faithful to the old show’s world, but also assuming that a lot of people have never seen that, so to create a new thing that also works entirely independent of that, but is still fun and cool. It’s a pretty tall order. I know they wrote this all as one big thing, so they always had this kind of structure in mind.
Both of you have experience as writers and Rob, you wrote a few episodes of Childrens Hospital. Would either of you be interested in writing or directing episodes in the future?
RH: I would love to if we get to make more of them. This was something that they kind of cooked up on their own. I was off shooting something else while they were planning this out. If we do more of them, I’d love to be involved with the writing. It’s such a fun world. We basically get to go all over the world in this fun season. It’s a great universe to be romping around in.
What was it like to incorporate this global aspect to the show’s comedy as your characters travel to a new place in every episode as they try to piece this terrorist attack together?
EH: It definitely added a really unique aspect to this season and it’d be interesting if they tried to do even more with it in any possible future seasons or take a step back in that area. As these characters hopefully get a little better at what they’re doing and what their roles are in the field of “medical policing,” it might cater to more scenarios like going undercover. This season is more about them learning and making stuff up as they go along.
RH: There’s a bit of that where Erinn’s character tries to be subtle or blend in, but it’s just a miss and reflection of how out of their league they are here. We’re not the brightest bulbs in the world of medical police.
How do you two feel about the dynamic where both Lola and Owen kind of fluctuate between being the smarter one of the duo and the more clueless one?
EH: Yeah, it was nice to not have to sit in just one point of view for the entire season. A big dynamic of Childrens Hospital was also how every character was incredibly smart and incredibly dumb on a case-by-case moment. It was fun to continue that trend so the comedy is allowed to come from all sorts of different places.
RH: It’s great to have these toolboxes of special skills that can seem limitless at times. How the fuck do they know how to shoot guns—Lola clearly doesn’t, but I guess my character is a former cop so it stands to reason I’d have weapons training. At other times we’re breaking into offices or medical labs and jumping off ledges and how could these two idiots be able to do any of this? I just love that they’re all making it up as they go along.
There are understandably more action scenes and fight scenes in this show than Childrens Hospital. Did you guys get to do any of your own stunts at all? Was that something that you were interested in?
EH: Yeah, it was great! I think we did as much as we could. Definitely learned some moves and got to throw our bodies around, but you also really shouldn’t at a certain point. That’s why there are people who are trained to do this for a living and are just better at it. If there’s a complicated fight sequence, then sure, try some of it, but don’t go nuts!
RH: Yeah, I have a bad habit of wanting to do too much of that kind of stuff. David Wain—who directed a lot of this—I did a pilot with him a long time ago and he asked me to do this tiny little stunt and I ended up knocking myself unconscious and had to go to the hospital…
EH: Oh my God!
RH: So for this show he was kind of like, “Yeahhhhh, we’ll get some stunt people who look like you.” That being said, we still had to do a bunch of fighting throughout the season, which we’d do. A lot of jumping through windows and climbing up ledges. There was this big stunt where we’re jumping off a building in Croatia. The female stunt double was just so much more gung-ho about it all and it makes Erinn look that much better in the process.
I really love the way in which the show weaves in guest appearances from Childrens Hospital characters. Of all of those possible other shows, which would you most like to see as its own potential spin-off?
EH: Can I say that I want to see all of those shows? Glenn living in a retirement community and being this vaginal rejuvenation king is pretty amazing.
RH: Yeah, I’d love to see a spin-off with Glenn’s character living at a nudist resort where he just sells off-brand Viagra to old people. The one time we visit him in this show, he’s just surrounded by naked old people. I think he calls it a crafting party, but it’s clearly an orgy. My only regret is that we didn’t have more naked old people in the show because that’s clearly what’s popular.
Finally, do you guys have a favorite scene of yours from the season or a moment that was particularly hard to get through?
EH: There are two that really stand out to me. One that we had too much fun doing was the shooting practice in our hotel room, which is just such a ludicrous idea in itself. Jumping around and creating that montage was too much fun. Then, this stupid little sequence later on where we’re just explaining who we are and what we do kept breaking me. It was raining too and we just kept falling apart, but it was wonderful.
RH: Erinn is just so funny to work with that I had a hard time getting through a lot of it. Sometimes directors will get pissed when you keep breaking and just wanted to move along. There’s a bit where we’re sneaking into the nudist resort at night. There’s this whole thing where Ken Marino kept bending back this branch and would let it smack Erinn in the face. It fucking made me laugh every single time, and it’s such a throwaway joke—you may not even catch it. It just makes me laugh so hard. Then, the scene where we’re having sex outside was also just a highlight. It was 3 in the morning, freezing cold, there’s fake snow getting in our mouths and eyes. We were trying so hard to get through it, but it was just too ridiculous at times.
The entire 10-episode first season of Medical Police premieres on Netflix on January 10.
Listen to the full audio of this interview on The Fourth Wall podcast:
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.