Adult Swim's quirky comedy Childrens Hospital, which returns Thursday night at Midnight/11c, is switching things up for Season 5: The Emmy-winning show's characters have relocated to a U.S. Army base in Japan, where they clash with military personnel and hold a wine tasting during surgery.
Immediately following at 12:15/11:15c, The channel's faux crime procedural, NTSF: SD:SUV::, is also back for another season of fighting terrorists in San Diego through the most absurd means imaginable — including a visit to the city's Little London district (which was actually filmed in the real London).
We asked Childrens Hospital's Rob Corddry and NTSF's Paul Scheer to interview each other about their new seasons. The chat turned into a freewheeling conversation, ranging from the unusual appeal of USA's Suits to why neither of them find The Blues Brothers funny. An edited transcript follows.
Corddry: My questions mostly revolve around how handsome Paul Scheer is.
Scheer: Well, my interview is titled "The Sexy Rob Corddry." So this is going to work out well.
Corddry: We're thinking along the same lines.
Scheer: Well, we do have the same sex appeal as the television program Suits.
Corddry: Paul jokes about our friends on Suits, but I think he's done more for that show's popularity than anyone. At every panel for NTSF, he yells out, "Hashtag Suits!" So people are always hashtagging it. You're keeping that show alive.
Scheer: The fact that they're in suits is amazing.
TV Guide Magazine: Will there be a Suits-inspired episode of NTSF?
Scheer: Every episode is a slight homage to the television series Suits. That's the same with Children's Hospital, right, Rob?
Corddry: We're mostly an homage to Franklin & Bash.
Scheer: There are so many of these shows that my parents only want to see success for me on those shows. It doesn't matter what I have done. If I were on Suits, Psych or White Collar, any of those shows, my mom would be so happy about that.
TV Guide Magazine: Does your mom think you're on NCIS?
Scheer: I think my mom does not understand that NTSF is a comedy show. She watches it so intently. She starts to try to figure out the plots. I think my mom doesn't get the subtle irony to it.
TV Guide Magazine: She's waiting for Mark Harmon to show up, right?
Scheer: I don't think my mom has ever comprehended any show that I have ever done.
Corddry: That generation needs a wink. They need the laugh track to prompt them into something.
Scheer: I remember trying to watch Arrested Development with my mom and I thought her head was going to explode. I could see it was stressing her out.
TV Guide Magazine: So Rob, what does she think about you after Children's Hospital?
Corddry: My mother tries to fake it and she laughs at what are sort of the right places. But sometimes she'll laugh at something and you'll think she's getting it. And then she'll laugh at something and completely miss this whole thing.
TV Guide Magazine: Rob, talk about the changeup on Childrens this season.
Corddry: We won an Emmy and then decided to raise our middle finger to the TV audience, go figure. We lost our second hospital in a row. [Childrens has taped at two different abandoned hospitals, but had to vacate them after the owners decided to tear them down.] Then we decided, do we really want to spend another season inside an old, broken down hospital? Or should we take the opportunity we may never have again to do something completely different? So we decided to set it on an Army base. It's only cursorily explained.
Scheer: You would never be able to pull off that move on any other network. Adult Swim allows you to do that. This year, I wanted to do an episode where the cast of our show just takes over a bar. They just start working at this bar, and it's a little bit like Road House. The next week they're back at their base and nothing is mentioned. This season we tried to go a lot of different directions. Our first season was just a plain procedural parody and our second season we found more of our characters. This season we went to London for one episode. We shot it in London.
Corddry: One thing I learned from NTSF is you were really smart to develop the characters right away. And actually make it character-based as well as joke-based. I proudly shunned story and characters for years. Until I realized, it's the best joke engine.
Scheer: One of the things I love about this show, and this is purely dictated by Martin Starr, is that every year we say to Martin, what do you want to be this year? The first year he was a Goth like that girl on NCIS. In the second year he was a rapper. And then this year he's a Phish kind of guy.
Corddry: I think we're also lucky, Paul, that we came up with a family of actors and comedians that we have. Everyone is truly destroying the reputation that comedians have had for generations of being selfish, cold, broken people. We're all just out to have fun with each other.
Scheer: I owe a lot of that to UCB, which is where we started.
Corddry: I think the UCB changed comedy in a way. Their main philosophy, which you learn Day 1 in improv, that don't worry about yourself. If you make your partner look good, you will look good.
TV Guide Magazine: So how come you guys aren't cold and broken?
Corddry: Well, we're broken.
Scheer: Yeah, we're totally broken. When people hear you came up in comedy, they think standup. But the UCB does this really cool kind of improv, it lends itself to a larger TV sensibility.
TV Guide Magazine: You're both very busy doing multiple jobs.
Scheer: I'm not against making money. Money's the best.
Corddry: I love money. I just don't have it.
Scheer: At channels like Adult Swim, you don't get the same budget as a primetime network show, even though the ratings are pretty similar — we get ratings that beat NBC primetime in the 18-34 demo. But because we don't have that budget, no one's questioning you. I remember talking to an actor who did this show Numbers, and I asked him, "You've done so many, how many of those episodes are you proud of?" And he just put up his hand and said, "Three." You've done over 100 episodes and there are three that you liked? I don't ever want to do that.
Corddry: He was like, "I'm proud of those three episodes, I'm proud of my wife's wardrobe, my car and my kids' college fund."
Scheer: We're really lucky. Adult Swim really supports creative ideas. You've never gotten a note on casting or anything, Rob?
TV Guide Magazine: Lightning round. Time for you to each ask each other one more question.
Scheer: Rob, what was the one thing that you never got? That you didn't find funny? To me, I never go the Three Stooges.
Corddry: I would say, and I don't know how divisive this is, but I never laughed once at The Blues Brothers. Can't stand that movie. Don't get it. I don't understand the genre. I think it's sloppy. Some of it is well made, but I think it's the product of an indulgent generation. It's super-long and I don't even appreciate its weirdness.
Scheer: I felt that way about the Blues Brothers too until I saw it in a theater with a bunch of people laughing. It was a better experience for me.
Corddry: It's just weird. "Minnie the Moocher" goes on for, like, 15 minutes. I mean, what am I watching?
Scheer: It was a bunch of people with cocaine and carte blanche to make a movie.
Corddry: Now here's my question for you. Everybody always asks us about our influences. I try to answer beyond the usual suspects. Now, who's the person or thing that has influenced you in a really profound way but you don't want to share with anyone?
Scheer: Here's my weakness. I really love watching pranks. Also Family Feud. Steve Harvey is giving one of the best comedic performances of all time. If you're not watching it, you're missing out. And bloopers. When my wife and I are bored, we'll watch news bloopers for a ridiculous amount of time.
Corddry: That's a good example, both of those are hated among most comedians. A blooper reel for some reason at the end of a movie is the worst. I love it.
Scheer: Cannonball Run, with the bloopers at the end? I loved it.