For some reason, the fake sitcom idea has never been all that funny to me. The laugh tracks and the heightened actions of the characters don’t quite work as parody for me, but only reminds me of the irritating aspects of an era of television comedies that still somehow exists. This has also become an increasingly popular form of parody, with The Jack and Triumph Show, Comedy Bang! Bang! and the Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule spinoff episode Bagboy all happening this year alone. Thankfully “Koontz Is Coming” also has another great sitcom staple making it successful: Henry Winkler.
In a season where the absence of cast members has become impossible to ignore, Childrens Hospital has the benefit of a fantastic cast of supporting characters it can rely on. “Koontz Is Coming” allows Sy Mittleman his time in the spotlight and reminds why he was in some of the greatest comedies of all time.
“Koontz Is Coming” has Sy running around the hospital, making sure everything is going perfectly for an upcoming fundraiser, where Dean Koontz will be making an appearance. Unfortunately there’s an anonymous blogger at thelongtermcarewing.com who is constantly posting scathing reviews of the hospital. Sy tries to find the blogger, then entice them with a French meal from Boston Market in order to gain some favor.
In the process, he completely screws up the dinner, he forgets to pick up Koontz and, after drinking a large glass of Chief’s extra strength laxatives, has an….accident at the fundraiser in front of an angry crowd that just wanted to see Koontz.
Even though Winkler is known for his great sitcom work, he’s rarely shown how flustered and panicked he can be. Winkler is fantastic here as he runs around, trying to make everything right and failing at everything. Yet the whole sitcom bit just isn’t really all that laugh-out-loud funny. The finest moments of the episode come from smaller bits, like Lola explaining the process of depositing a check in very thorough detail or maybe the best Sal line ever:
“Attention staff. Bob Odenkirk played a lawyer on Breaking Bad. That is Saul.”
I think the last few seasons of Childrens Hospital have relied far too much on becoming a parody show, with the fifth season being an entire season solely to parody M*A*S*H and almost every episode this season focusing on some genre to take down. To be honest, at the beginning of “Koontz Is Coming,” I got excited by the prospect that the episode might actually have something to do with a hospital fundraiser. It’s easy to forget that this is supposed to be a Brazilian children’s hospital and not a riff factory.
This sixth season has been a great opportunity for the less front-and-center characters, but it would be nice if Childrens Hospital could cool it on the parodies for a little bit.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.