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November 24, 2014

Early Look: Kids in the Hall Are Creepy Funny in 'Death Comes to Town'

by Nick Zaino, posted Aug 20th 2010 4:30PM
Kids in the Hall present 'Death Comes to Town' on IFCWhen 'Death Comes to Town' debuts tonight on IFC, it will mark the first time in 15 years the Kids in the Hall have been together on TV. All five kids - Bruce McCulloch, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thompson - went their separate ways after their feature film 'Brain Candy,' in 1996.

But they weren't able to stay away from each other for long, reuniting for tours in 2000, 2002, and 2008. The last tour happened to coincide with the writers' strike, which helped get the Kids writing together again. They were looser than ever on that tour, and obviously enjoyed each other's company. They even made a short film or two for the tour, and started thinking about working together on camera again.

That sense of fun and chemistry carried over into 'Death Comes to Town,' a creepily fun eight part murder mystery. Each Kid plays multiple characters in Shuckton, Ontario, a hapless small town trying to break hard times by making a desperate plea to host the 2028 Olympics (its primary industry is rat fur). Oh, and Shuckton is also regularly set upon by an inept angel of death, played by McKinney.

Each character, and as a result the whole town, is wonderfully realized. The Kids have always excelled at the absurd, and have prided themselves on their convincing drag abilities (they named one live DVD 'Same Guys, New Dresses').

They are at their best here capturing all the little details, with impressive separation. Thompson's small time crook Crim Hollingsworth doesn't look or feel like repressed town coroner Dusty Diamond. The same can be said for McCulloch's former sports star turned shut-in Ricky Jarvis and philandering Mayor Bowman, Foley's town abortionist Doc Porterhouse and disinterested news producer Levon Blanchard, and McDonald's skeezy boom operator Shaye and his Public Defender Murray, whose distraught over his cat being in two different comas at the same time.

Kids in the Hall present 'Death Comes to Town' on IFCWhen the Kids play drag, the laughs never come from the clownish aspect of a man dressed as a woman. The female characters are as well-developed as any. Foley's Marilyn Bowman has to adjust to her life after years of a bitter marriage, and McDonald's Marnie means well but can't shake "the fuzzies," her term for perpetual confusion. The comedy comes from the characters and their stories, so even some of the more outrageous gags don't seem gratuitous.

McKinney is the stand out in 'Death.' He manages to turn the squinting, snaggle-toothed angel of death into a compelling character. He's desperate to do a good job, for the hand he wears around his neck to light up with instructions for his next victim, especially if that victim is Ricky. He manages to communicate all of that despite a constant scowl and grunting most of his dialogue.

McKinney's characters are the glue that holds the story together - the intrepid and insipid anchor Corrinda Gablechuck, a clueless cop (pared with McCulloch), a judge obsessed with his gavel, and a tractor parts salesman. Plus, a very familiar face to KITH fans makes a special appearance episode four.

Special mention has to be made of Landon Reynolds-Trudel, who plays the Bowmans' son Rampop, a disturbing, eyebrowless kid whose world view is one of the funniest oddities in the plot.

'Death Comes to Town' is a funny Gothic comedy (McCulloch has compared it to 'Twin Peaks' and called it silly and dark) complete with cliffhanger endings for each episode. The murder mystery aspect is solid, and part of the fun is watching this backwards town try to solve it. Those tuning in to see a sketch show might be disappointed with that. But those who appreciate what the Kids in the Hall do best will openly welcome 'Death.'

Here's to hoping it won't be another 15 years for the follow-up.

'Death Comes to Town' will air two episodes a week at 10 PM ET/PT starting Friday, August 20.

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Bearxor

Yeah, I went to... ummm... look for this where I .... ummm... usually look for thing on .... ummmm... channels I don't necessarily get...

I found all 8 episodes there and hope to squeeze it all in tonight. I'm not expecting great things, but I'm sure it will be halfway enjoyable.

August 22 2010 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tpolebreaker

I saw it in Canada when it originally aired. I thought it was kinda meh. Not horrible but not really classic KITH.

August 21 2010 at 6:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
iggy

This already debuted in Canada months ago, and received mediocre reviews.

August 20 2010 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to iggy's comment
Nick

Iggy,

Did you see it when it debuted? What were your thoughts?

Nick

August 21 2010 at 2:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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