Adult Swim’s Children Hospital has been responsible for three spin-off’s that have made it to our screens so far in the form of NTSF:SD:SUV, Newsreaders and Medical Police, but there was one other pilot made featuring a character who appeared in the show, Michael Showalter’s Nils Vildervaan, who here is renamed as Giles Vanderhoot but is otherwise exactly as he appeared in the series.
After not being given a full series it was aptly broadcast as part of Adult Swim’s Infomercials strand, as it sees Vanderhoot attempting to shoot a commercial for his company which promises “Personal Counselling, Rehabilitation, & Treatment”, but it doesn’t go well from the start as he’s often interrupted by noise from the set (mostly giggling and laughing at the terrible script), while his own inability to say the lines correctly drives him crazy, to the extent that he gets so angry he ends up shouting “God, who the fuck can say this shit, certainly not me…Who the fuck even hired me? Me, that’s who. I’m an even bigger idiot than I thought, I’m going to get a real actor to read this garbage” in what’s the funniest line of the episode.
Almost as good are the auditions where the actors have to trot out lines describing The Giles Vanderhoot Method like “We do not rely on prescription drugs or mind control techniques”, but when an actor is hired Vanderhoot inevitably gets angry with them, fires them, casts himself again, and then fires himself again, because this is clearly a man who not only doesn’t know what he wants, but has the kind of anger management issues that would terrify a psychologist. The pattern seems to set to continue forever too, as he casts a new actor (this time a woman, forcing her to wear a moustache even though that makes no sense) but then fires her and recasts himself yet again.
Showalter’s performance is what makes it so enjoyable, he’s in full on lunatic mode from about one minute in, and the script that he wrote with Childrens Hospital co-creator Jonathan Stern is filled with a pleasing amount of insanity. The kind of self help nonsense that is being advertised is obviously ridiculously stupid yet oddly believable, to the extent that I get the feeling that if they really wanted to Showalter and Stern could have launched the product for real.
But despite being pretty funny throughout it’s the kind of thing that I can’t imagine working as a series, or they’d have to have changed the concept pretty quickly as it couldn’t just be Vanderhoot getting incredibly angry with himself or others in different scenarios. That said Showalter and Stern have proven themselves to be experts at creating comedy characters and mining a great deal of very funny material from unusual circumstances, so I could well be very wrong, and perhaps sadly we’ll now never know.
You can watch the pilot on youtube here.