Kingdom Hospital
Death's Kingdom

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Djb: C- | Grade It Now!
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St. Don't-You-Wish-You-Were-Elsewhere

The toughs look on from afar, doing endless justice to the stage direction of "with chins tipping haughtily upward," as He Drives With Enormous Horsepower deals a swift right kick to the driver's side rear door, and the car alarm spins down comically and dies. He gestures back towards the toughs, who tip their chins up so haughtily that their haughtiness could be charted at a perfect 45-degree angle on an XY axis and measured mathematically. They laugh and offer their thumbs up, because Tangential Characters Engaged In Quirky Doings usually seem to get along, unless one of them is a midget.

Inside the titular hospital that is kingly, quirky though somewhat less tangential character Dr. Jesse "Ain't Too Proud To Begley" James scoops up stray buttons underneath his desk and searches futilely for whatever qualities once made him a believable television doctor. He explains, "Sorry about that, Steg. Turns out there's a fault line under the hospital. Continental drift. Something of that nature. Sure wish we'd known. Would've built on the other side of the river." But if you'd done that, the hospital wouldn't have been quite so haaaaaaaaaaaaaunted. It would have been merely haunted-adjacent. Which, come to think of it, might have been slightly more appropriate for a show that's, well, looking only good-adjacent at the moment. Steg (may I call you "Steg"?) asks if this kind of thing happens a lot, and Dr. James collects some stray leaflets (which, though they can't make any noise because they're just refined papyrus and ink, almost certainly have the lyrics to "Red Dragon Tattoo" on them, just to insure that that song is never out of our heads for long) and responds that there have been two or three tremors this year alone. "But the geologist the keepers of the Kingdom have brought up from Boston assures us that they'll stop soon." Collecting the tattered remnants of his workplace superiority and smoothing down the wispy cotton candy hair of his determinedly circus-y head, Dr. James makes it back to the chair while finishing the thought, "But you know geologists. To them, soon can mean five centuries." Ah, geologist humor. The great social equalizer. Regardless of race, finance, or social standing, a good joke about rocks has the universalizing effect of causing the hearer to crinkle his nose, cock his head slightly, and upwardly inflect, "Hmmm?" But ol' Dr. James can get away with it. Because of how quirky he is.

Steg finally gets to the point: "I'm having a serious problem with Hook." He reels off a laundry list of technical-sounding doctor-y things Hook has done to violate hospital ethics: ordering MRIs without permission, taking on the project of perpetual patient Mrs. Druse, forcing the whole department sit quietly against their will while he makes them sit through innumerable screenings of Fresh Horses that he broadcasts on the colonoscopy camera. Dr. James thinks on it a minute and kicks back in his chair, advising, "You know what my son would say?" Steg (may I call you…oh, never mind) does not know. James continues: "Illness sucks." Is his son a novelty bumper sticker from the hospital gift shop? And, if so, does he also believe that, as a cat hanging from a high branch, we should all "hang in there"? James waxes on, to Steg's consternation: "Unfortunately, patients come here, don't they? The problem with a hospital is, we're surrounded by them. More are coming every day." Steg half-nods, because his boss is a jerk and he's in the hospital version of Dilbert and he doesn't like it any more than we do.

Now, this guy's name I definitely do not remember. It's the guy. Who hit The Guy Who Totally Isn't Really Stephen King. In the van. Apparently the crash also woefully impaired the man's scant remaining sense of fashion, as he stumbles out of his very New England-y (quaint…but haaaaaaaaunted!) two-story home, wearing some kind of big-boy play pants and no shirt. And his top half is covered in what looks like nicotine patches. And his van's windshield has not magically healed itself at warp speed, so it's a good thing we get a clear pan past it to remind us that this is The Man Who Hit The Man Who Is Not Stephen King. Because otherwise we might not have known that at all. He stumbles up a ladder to his Rickety, Angular Roof Of Eventual Plot Contrivance, drunkenly slurring the wrong words to "Red Dragon Tattoo." Okay. I love Fountains of Wayne as much as, like, Wayne himself (enough to know that, yes, Wayne is not an actual person, so unwrite that angry email you've started writing and we can leave one by one and pretend that never happened), but it's maybe just about enough. It's a very good song. On Utopia Parkway, it's probably the best song, and it's better musically than the other achingly self-aware hipster ditty "Valley of Malls," which I completely love. And this two-hour commercial for this song really is tremendous exposure for a band that lingered in the shadows of semi-non-fame for a really long time. But eventually, if it goes on unabated for another few episodes, it's going to be the one-song greatest hits volume Songs To Crunch Your Frail Artist's Bones By, and then they're pigeonholed and in trouble. In the meantime, go buy Welcome Interstate Managers and listen to "Halley's Waitress" until your iPod bleeds. And then you and I shall be wed.

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Kingdom Hospital

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