On this slow week for TV on DVD, get admitted to the wacky antics of Childrens Hospital.
The first three seasons of Rob Corddry's Adult Swim series, a hilarious and always inventive send-up of the medical genre starring a murderer's row of comics (Lake Bell, Rob Huebel and Ken Marino are among the regulars, while guest stars have included Nick Offerman and Nick Kroll), scored extras-loaded DVD sets, but sales must not have been up to snuff as the show's fourth year is being released via Warner Brothers' bonus-features free, manufactured-on-demand label, Warner Archive. As nice as it is having all the episodes in one place, the lack of extra material is disappointing, since Season 4 is filled with 15-minute installments that must have been bursting with hilarious outtakes and extended bits of business. Chief among them has to be "British Hospital," the fake U.K. spin-off of the fake titular show that features a great ensemble of Brit small-screen favorites including Jaime Murray and Dominic Monaghan. Other standout episodes include the GoodFellas spoof, Wisedocs (the best riff on that Scorsese classic since Community's Season 1 "Contemporary American Poultry" outing); "A Year in the Life," which spans 12 wild months in the lives of the doctors and nurses on staff; and another installment of the news show-within-the-show Newsreaders, which has since spawned its own spin-off Adult Swim series. Don't take this MOD release as a sign that Childrens Hospital is nearing the end of its life. Adult Swim has re-upped the show for a fifth season, set to air sometime this year.
The Ricky Gervais Show: The Complete Third Season
On the other hand, this next Warner Archive release does mark the end of a show's run. For three seasons, HBO took old episodes of Ricky Gervais's wildly popular podcast (which held the Guinness record as the world's most downloaded podcast for a spell) and animated them Hanna-Barbera style, with a Fred Flintstone-esque Gervais (much more portly and schlubby than the now-fit flesh and blood version) chatting alongside regular cohort Stephen Merchant and their mutual whipping boy, Karl Pilkington. As funny as the conversations are, the real star of the show is the animation, which takes some inspired flights of fancy, enhancing or commenting upon what Gervais & Co. are talking about. Even if you previously listened to these podcasts on your iPod, you'll see them in a whole new light when viewed in cartoon form.
Also on DVD
The '50s Western The Restless Gun: The Complete Series ran for two seasons on NBC and starred John Payne as a gunfighter on a never-ending road trip, during which he meets friendly (and unfriendly) people and solves conflicts through dialogue and/or gunfire. So basically, imagine a black-and-white version of The Incredible Hulk or Kung Fu without a Hulk or kung fu and you've got this show. Elsewhere, A Haunting: Season 5 dramatizes more "true" accounts of paranormal activity, while Touched By an Angel: The 7th Season continues the cautionary tale of allowing angels to meddle in human affairs.
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