THE KIDS IN THE HALL: DEATH COMES TO TOWN Review

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THE KIDS IN THE HALL: DEATH COMES TO TOWN Review
Death has arrived in Shuckton and, lo, he wears a leather codpiece whilst straddling his motorized bicycle.  Yes, after a far-too-long time away The Kids In The Hall return to our television screens to night with the launch of their new miniseries Death Comes To Town on the CBC.  And because I asked the correct person very politely I've already had the chance to see the first two episodes.  Here's what you need to know.

In early conversations about the new series the Kids' Dave Foley openly acknowledged an influence from the UK's League of Gentlemen and that influence is very pronounced indeed.  This is not to say that the Kids are cribbing from the League's playbook but the format here will be immediately familiar.  The sketch comedy that drove the original Kids TV series is gone entirely, replaced with a continuous narrative following the titular Death's run through the small town of Shuckton.  And populating Shuckton are an assortment of very odd characters, almost all of whom are portrayed by the Kids themselves - each Kid armed with a handful of truly stellar characters.  So ... small town horror-comedy in which a menagerie of often grotesque characters are portrayed by a small handful of performers, yes, the League influence is definitely there.  But in terms of writing and performance, this is pure Kids ...

And who do we meet in Shuckton?  There is the popular town mayor, determined to land the 2028 Olympic games despite a population of only twenty seven thousand, plus his perpetually drunk wife and 'special' son.  The is the morbidly obese shut in.  The lusty and terminally insecure small town news queen and her weather girl rival.  The 1/16th native man freebasing hand sanitizer for a cheap buzz.  The terminally forgetful pizza delivery lady.  The dimmer than dim police duo.  And, of course, Death himself, in his under-clothed, under-toothed glory, beating his first victim down with a television remote before sucking up his powdered soul with a dustbuster.

Episode one is, to a certain extent, driven by the need to introduce a broad range of characters and scenarios.  The sheer volume of information coming at you means this introductory effort is good more for smiles - and lots of them - than outright laughs as the group have a lot of plates to get spinning in just over twenty minutes, but the promise is certainly there for something extraordinary.  And, sure enough, in episode two - with the need to introduce and explain done away with - the laughs come fast and hard.

The worry with a show like this, with the principals so long removed from their glory days, is that it will not live up to the memories of what made the group special the first time.  But the absence here has not hurt a bit.  The Kids have not lost a step and, if anything, the shift in format has brought a new punch to their work, allowing them to work characters and develop gags over an extended period.  This is absolutely prime stuff.
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More about Death Comes To Town

johnrahmeJuly 26, 2010 2:59 PM

Watch for Death Comes to Town coming to DVD Aug 3, all 8 episodes, plus some killer bonus features - audio commentary from Bruce and Dave on on 2 episodes, plus bloopers and deleted scenes, pre-order today at www.cbcshop.ca