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Death Comes to IFC, Tonight! Welcome Back, Kids.

The Kids In the Hall in "Death Comes to Town"

The Kids In the Hall are back, comedy nerds. I mean, the die-hardiest fans among us realize that they never really went away, having gotten back together numerous times since 1996’s Brain Candy feature for live tours, comedy shorts, and the like.  But this is their first substantial filmed effort in 14 years and hold onto your wigs and costume jewelry, because Death Comes To Town – which lands tonight on IFC at 10 p.m.  – is KITH turned up to eleven.

Our friends and fellow nerd brethren in the Great White North, of course, got to see this epic miniseries of oddity eight months ago. Okay, and some of us might not have been so patient for that U.S. air date. (Hey, if it’s good enough for Dave Foley, it’s good enough for me.) Britain’s The League of Gentlemen has been cited as an influence on Death Comes to Town, and if you’re familiar with the former you’ll definitely see its impact on the latter, in the often pitch-black comedy of a small-time town populated with big-time freaks. Even the lone return appearance by a character from the Kids’ 1990’s sketch series is one of their stranger, skeevier creations. And I don’t mean Bellini. Bellini is pretty much a requirement, isn’t he?:

Here’s the thing, though : While I can definitely lay claim to more than five laughs over Death Comes to Town’s four-hour cumulative running time, which as UK film critic Mark Kermode stipulates should be a fair litmus test for a successful comedy… wellll, I didn’t really love it. There’s a lot of high-octane insanity going on here driving toward the big mystery of who killed the mayor of Shuckton, Ontario and why, and though the set pieces involving individual characters and storylines usually work on their own, some repeat gags lose steam the more they’re utilized and the manner in which they’re woven together doesn’t always gel. (Caught myself around episode six thinking “Guys, you’ve got an hour left.  Denouement!” I know, probably a bad assessment for a surreal comedy, but maybe that’s my old-school miniseries gauge talking. I know, it’s not the fucking Thorn Birds. Shutting up now.)

I’m looking forward to watching Death Comes to Town again and seeing if the stuff that irked me the first time isn’t as much of an issue. That said, even it felt a little scattershot at times, there’s plenty to be enjoyed. Remember how Cancer Boy was minutely scandalous when Brain Candy came out? This show is crammed with Cancer Boys, each gleefully pushing the boundaries of good taste, and it’s hard to choose a favorite: Mark McKinney’s Death, holed up in a seedy motel getting hammered on owl’s blood and lusting after chubby redheads, is up there. So is Scott Thompson’s hairless town coroner whose, um, attachment to Bruce McCulloch’s late mayor gets a leeetle bit freaky. Foley’s scarcely grieving mayor’s wife is great, and his indistinctly foreign veterinary nurse is even better. And then there’s Rampop (Landon Reynolds-Trudel) – the mayor’s son who mostly runs around squawking and sees everyone, except Death, as giant psychedelic butterflies. Rampop is probably the most awesomely strange creation the Kids have ever realized. (Well, at least since “Sausages”):

Sound off about Death Comes to Town below – and share some of your other favorite KITH classics while you’re at it. (My pen! My pennnn!)

Comments

  1. deb says:

    So glad to see someone likes this “outing” by the boys; the only mention I had seen previously was the panning Matt Roush gave this in the increasingly useless TV Guide, and it made me sad.
    Now, if I only had the IFC….
    –Just like when the series first hit our airwaves: if you want what the Kids have to offer, you have to pay for it! (If I had the cash, I would have gladly added the channel just for them. Not in this economy! I am owed months of pay. To steal a quote: “Evil! Impolite and evil!!!”)

  2. Peter N says:

    I also checked it out on CBC in January ’10

    More Brain Candy then Series but worth the investment of 8 hours

  3. geopig says:

    The series is actually in reruns with CBC here in Canada. Even better the second time around.

  4. Luanne says:

    young Dave Foley in drag looks *just* like Isabella Rosselini- trufax.

  5. joe says:

    The episode where the hitman gets hired to kill himself is my 3rd favorite after My Pen and Sausages!

  6. NeuroMan42 says:

    Felt stale at times, but still was good, but nothing compared to their series.

  7. Daniel says:

    Oh yeah, and here’s one of their best things, the semi-autobiographical monologue that won Scott Thompson a place in the group. An amazing example of making comedy out of real pain:
    http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=WNB0TT5AEGE&feature=related

  8. Daniel says:

    I loved it – the kids in the hall are doing the opposite of going soft in their middle years. Good god, the abortion jokes alone. It goes pretty slack in the middle episodes, but comes together for a great finale. And dozens of awesome new, middle-aged characters, best of all being Dave Foley as the mayor’s wife – one hell of a lady.

  9. The kids in the hall is one of those shows I would watch for 20 minutes without even chuckling then almost fall out of my chair laughing like I was 5. Maybe the most hit and miss show in history IMHO.

  10. DMack says:

    Good lookin’ out, Nicole. I watched this during its original run on the CBC in the froze-ass north. Definitely stupid and definitely worth checking out.

  11. Lisa G says:

    *runs around screaming YAAAAAAY like Kermit The Frog*