Archive for the ‘Cartoons’ Category

For Episode 2, go to Cartoon Network

Sunday 10:30 PM on Cartoon Network Adult Swim


by Mike Hale

BY Rob Corddry’s own count, he did a hundred interviews when his Web series “Childrens Hospital” appeared in 2008 in which he said that it was “in no way a television idea,” and that a television version “will never happen.”

So, of course, it happened. “Childrens Hospital” begins its new life as a television series Sunday night, part of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming, making Mr. Corddry either a liar or a very bad prognosticator. As he did postproduction work recently at a North Hollywood editing studio, he chose to plead ignorance when asked why his show, among hundreds of online series, should be one of the few to make the jump to the slightly bigger screen.

“We have a very good relationship with the people over at Warner Brothers,” he said, referring to the company that owns, where his show first lived, and is a corporate sibling of Adult Swim. “Beyond that I have no idea.”

He’s more definitive about the inspiration for “Childrens Hospital,” which was born out of the enforced idleness caused by the 2007-8 Writers Guild strike. (The strike was the seedbed for other high-profile Web projects like “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” with Neil Patrick Harris, and the Lisa Kudrow show “Web Therapy,” which will be seen on Showtime later this year.)

“The idea was born of child abuse, essentially,” Mr. Corddry said. At a hospital with his daughter, who had injured her arm, he was taken by the comic possibilities of the terrifying scene: “scared parents, crying mothers, tiny bodies on tiny gurneys.”

A result was an unsparing parody and, in its twisted way, a celebration of mainstream hospital shows, packed into 10 episodes of about five minutes each. The primary target was “Grey’s Anatomy,” with nods to “ER” and “Scrubs” and a subtext of deep affection for “M*A*S*H.”

Doctors committed darkly humorous varieties of malpractice when they weren’t breaking up or making out, sometimes with their young patients. Mr. Corddry wore slasher-movie clown makeup as Dr. Blake Downs, who refused to operate, believing instead in the healing power of laughter.

Getting the online show made wasn’t necessarily a huge challenge. “Studios were green-lighting tons of Web shows and treating it as near-free development,” Mr. Corddry said. But what made “Childrens Hospital” stand out from the start was its cast, an unusually accomplished group in the anonymous and poorly paid world of Web series.

In addition to Mr. Corddry, with his “Daily Show” and film credentials, it included Megan Mullally (“Will and Grace”), Lake Bell (“Boston Legal”), Erinn Hayes (“Parenthood”), Ken Marino (“Reaper,” “Party Down”), Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”), Ed Helms (“The Office”) and Jason Sudeikis (“Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock”).

“I don’t know what to say,” Mr. Corddry said. “We got everybody we wanted. We went up to our friends and, uh …. ”

Jonathan Stern, an executive producer and writer on the show along with Mr. Corddry, leaped in. “It was faith in Rob and his abilities and what he’d bring to it,” he said. “And knowing that they’d have a good time on it with their friends, and knowing, what’s the worst that will happen? We’ll have two days of doing so-so material.”

After the Web series was posted, both Adult Swim and Comedy Central approached Warner Brothers with the idea of adapting it for television; Adult Swim won what Mr. Corddry called “a very low-stakes bidding war.” He, Mr. Stern and their fellow executive producer David Wain managed to keep most of the cast together for the television show (Ms. Bell, committed to the HBO series “How to Make It in America,” will appear in only four episodes) while adding new regulars like Malin Akerman, Henry Winkler and Kurtwood Smith.

The quality and familiarity of the ensemble is a large part of the answer to the earlier question Mr. Corddry left hanging, regarding why “Childrens Hospital” has been able to follow the path to television blazed by Web series like “quarterlife” and “Sanctuary.”

“Megan Mullally, herself, green-lights a show,” he acknowledged. “I think that’s our main strength.”

Ms. Mullally plays the Chief, an oversexed chief surgeon who flails about on crutches and is an obvious take-off on Dr. Kerry Weaver, the character Laura Innes played for 15 seasons on “E.R.” She said she called Ms. Innes, a fellow Northwestern alumna, before shooting the Web series: “I was like, mmm, just in case. Just in case. But she thought it was great.”

The actors and writers have more room to breathe now that “Childrens Hospital” is a television series, but not much. The episodes for Adult Swim are 15 minutes long (11 ½ minutes after commercials); they will be shown in a half-hour slot at 10:30 p.m. with another 15-minute show, “Delocated.” The original Web episodes have been combined, two at a time, into television episodes that will be shown beginning Sunday. The new episodes will begin on Aug. 22.

The difference between making 5-minute and 11.5-minute shows was substantial. “Essentially the Web series was a series of sketches,” Mr. Corddry said. “The TV series, there has to be some semblance of a story. Unfortunately, because I have no idea how to write that.”

Mr. Winkler and Mr. Smith help carry the expanded story lines, as a wacky administrator and a villain intent on suppressing a cure for cancer. Mr. Stern cautioned against putting too much stock in the plot, however.

“Eleven and a half minutes made us create the veneer of actual story lines and character growth without requiring that we be committed to that,” he said. “We hit all the beats as if the characters were developing and important things were happening and as if there were a beginning, middle and end to the story, but we don’t really have to get too emotionally invested in any of that.”

One change you might expect would be some toning down of the show’s humor, an alternately surreal and raunchy mélange of situations and jokes involving sex, body parts, sex, children, Sept. 11, Puerto Rican midgets and sex. But Mr. Corddry said that editing the original Web episodes for television had just meant bleeping “about a handful of words.”

“It’s sort of the same tone,” he added, speaking of the new episodes. “We get away with a lot on Adult Swim.”

That freedom is part of the attraction for the actors, who find time for “Childrens Hospital” between or during their better-paying gigs. “This show is like any other show we do except the words on the page were much wackier,” said Mr. Marino, who plays the yarmulke-wearing Dr. Glenn Richie and who has also directed an episode.

He was one of several cast members who had gathered at the studio to do audio looping, talk with me and trade jokes. Rob Huebel, who plays the spectacularly clueless Dr. Owen Maestro, had his own reason for sticking with the show: “It’s opened up a lot of doors for me sexually. I can literally have sex with anyone in this room. Anyone. If I wanted to.”

Mr. Corddry’s hopes were more prosaic, if equally unrealistic in the arena of Web series and 15-minute television shows. “I have no ambitions besides keep doing more seasons, as many as they give us,” he said. “And then eventually we’ll just sit back and make money. Right?”

A HealthCare Cartoon

Posted: March 8, 2007 by Doc in Cartoons, Medical

ER cartoon full size

I’d like to thank everyone who graciously emailed and expanded my education on this issue (see previous post, “Disposable Docs”) In that post, I asked the question, “Is there no remedy for the situation of my ER friends? Are they and others like them (competent, experienced, non ER trained docs) supposed to just sit on their hands while the powers-that-be decide their fates?”

Apprently not, I’m happy to report that something is being done!
First, a short history lesson for those like me, who are unfamiliar with the ER boards controversy:

    -The specialty of Emergency Medicine was first recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 1979. Before this, the Emergency Department was manned by a variety of physicians trained in various fields such as Internal Medicine, Surgery, Family Medicine, and Pediatrics.
    – Certification or recognition of expertise in the specialty of Emergency Medicine was achieved by passing a certification exam given by the American Board of Emergency Medicine (ABEM).
    The ABEM exam was first offered in 1980. From 1980 to 1988, there were two ways for physicians to qualify for the examination. One could either complete a residency in emergency medicine, or satisfy the requirements of a “practice track” pathway. The prerequisites of this option were 7,000 hours and 60 months of emergency department practice experience, with a specified number of CME credits in emergency medicine.
    -In 1988, this alternative pathway or the “practice track” was terminated, sparking considerable controversy and dissension. Some felt that this closure was arbitrary and premature. This act essentially divided emergency room physicians into those who are ABEM certified, whether they had gone through EM residency training or not, and those who are not ABEM certified. Right now, 38% or approximately 13,000 ER doctors in the US are not ABEM certified, and it is estimated that there will not be enough EM residency trained, ABEM certified ER docs for at least the next 10 years according to the Institute of Medicine.
    – Lack of recognized EM certification has serious consequences for these physicians in terms of significantly lower compensation and disappearing job opportunities. Limitations on the supply of available ER physicians also has significant consequences on the US Emergency Health Care system, concerns which have been addressed in the IOM report and by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
    – The non-ABEM certified ER physicians have fought back. Instead of seeking ABEM certification, which is closed to them, they have acquired certification through the American Board of Physician Specialties examination(ABPS), the third largest multispecialty physician certifying body in the country. This alternative ER certification, called BCEM (Board of Certification in Emergency Medicine) is recognized in Florida, Utah, and Oklahoma, and has been vigorously opposed by groups representing the ABEM certified docs such as AAEM.

In December 2006, the ABPS filed a complaint against the New York Department of Health and Department of Education claiming arbitrary denial of recognition as a legitimate certifying body in New York State.

If they win, hopefully this will be an avenue for non-ER trained, non-ABEM certified ER physicians to continue their livelihood and careers, at least in New York, Florida, Oklahoma, and Utah.

What about the other 47 states? Maybe this will wake up the non-ABEM ER physicians to finally do something before it’s too late.

*NEWSFLASH* Feb 14, 2007
There is currently a bill pending in Florida which states the following:

A physician licensed under this

chapter may not hold himself or herself out as a

board-certified specialist unless the physician has received

formal recognition as a specialist from a specialty board of

the American Board of Medical Specialties or other recognizing

agency approved by the board which requires completion of an

approved residency or fellowship training program from the

Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in the

specialty of certification.

If this bill (which is being pushed by ACEP) passes, it means that ONLY physicians who underwent residency/ fellowship training in a specialty can say that they are board-certified in that specialty. This leaves out all the emergency room doctors who did not do emergency medicine residency, whether they are ABEM or BCEM certified including all the doctors who were “grandfathered” in through the practice track. It also leaves out all the physicians who are certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine, the American Board of Pain Medicine, and the American Board of Facial Plastic Reconstructive Surgery all of whom allow non-specialty trained physicians to be certified.
What the heck is ACEP doing and why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? Don’t they get that there is strength in numbers? If they were to welcome the 13,000 non-ABEM non-EM trained ER docs instead of fighting these turf wars all over the country, they would actually be able to improve the emergency care in this country (see IOM report).

Disposable Doctors 1
American Board of Physician Specialties
US Alliance of Emergency Medicine
News from AAPS vs. NY-DOH

Happy New Year!

Posted: December 30, 2006 by Doc in Cartoons