Fifteen years after their critically acclaimed, self-titled sketch series ended — and 14 after their one and only movie, “Brain Candy,” flopped — the Canadian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall returned to the tube with the limited IFC series, “Death Comes To Town.” For those of us who don’t have IFC on our cable lineup, the wait to DVD is over!
Here’s the short review: I laughed out loud from the first scene; KITH fans should buy it.
Now for the longer one …
“Death Comes to Town”’s eight half-hour episodes are about exactly that: A slovenly, codpiece-wearing Death (Mark McKinney) arrives via bus to Shuckton, a small town where Mayor Bowman (Bruce McCulloch) is treated like a superstar — it’s an honor for him to steal your burger and make out with your girlfriend — and making a bid for the 2028 Olympics.
All of Shuckton’s disappointed when it receives word it won’t be hosting any games, and then shocked when Bowman is discovered dead, having been murdered. We know Death’s to blame, because we see him literally snort up the departed’s souls, but the rest of the townspeople don’t have a clue. In more ways than one.
Among the other daft residents are Mrs. Bowman (Dave Foley, looking kinda cute, I have to admit), the mayor’s alcoholic widow; Ricky (also McCulloch), a former hockey progeny turned morbidly obese shut-in/armchair sleuth; Marnie (Kevin McDonald), Ricky’s brain-addled, pizza-delivering pal; Crim (Scott Thompson), suspect No. 1 and perhaps the only Native American who punctuates his sentences with “eh”; and Dusty Diamond (Thompson again), the coroner who’s secretly hiding Bowman’s body in his house, because he’s in love with him.
Oh, and there are more, most played by the Kids — regardless of gender, of course. The notable exception is Rampop (Landon Reynolds-Trudel), the Bowman’s “special child” who sees humans as animated butterflies. The boy nearly steals the show from underneath their collective slips.
The Kids can be dark, offensive, nonsensical — all reasons I have loved them even longer than I’ve loved my wife and children. Death, for instance, has a sexual fetish for pudgy redheads. There’s an aborted musical number about a ticking biological clock, in which babies are swung around like ragdolls. A cat is kept alive by inserting quarters into a machine. En route to the electric chair, one character stops to record a radio station bumper: “When I’m not getting executed, I listen to 102 FM The Fox!”
You get the picture. Or do you? You’re either into the Kids’ decidedly odd groove or you’re not. Like “Brain Candy,” the series does attempt to tell a start-to-finish story, but it’s the offhanded bits thrown in that work the best. In fact, the less plot they put into it, the funnier. I think they realized this, because the final episode exudes a feeling of “oh, crap, we gotta wrap this up” hurriedness.
Also like “Brain Candy,” it’s not as funny as the HBO series that launched them to stardom, but it’s not disappointing, either. Serious cult potential awaits, but I long more for another dose.
Welcome back, guys. Don’t be gone long. —Rod Lott