Following the conclusion of The Kids in the Hall’s television run, they made their feature film The Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, which was essentially their first experiment in telling a long-form narrative after having spent five seasons with a sketch show. The film was a mixed bag and only partially succeeded in conveying their unique sense of outlandish, absurdist sense of humor. Fast forward 15 years and The Kids in the Hall makes its return to television – but by following in the vein of Brain Candy, so you can imagine that there was a bit of trepidation amongst fans. As much as we were glad to get more from one of the funniest comedy troupes ever (yes, ever), there was some regret that what we were getting was an eight-episode miniseries that would more closely resemble Brain Candy than the original series. While the miniseries ended up delivering pretty solid and consistent laughs, it still isn’t up to par with the original seasons. The Kids in the Hall always has and always will work best as a sketch comedy format.
The peace of the small town of Shuckton is rocked when its mayor (Bruce McCulloch) is murdered late one night in his home, leaving his overly ambitious wife (Dave Foley) as Mayor. Accused of the crime is the town’s 1/16th Native American inhabitant (Scott Thompson) defended by the town’s nigh incompetent attorney (Kevin McDonald). As the trial presses on, more folks die and the only one on the trail to figuring it all out is an obese former hockey player (McCulloch). Through all of this, an incompetent news team runs about investigating the murders and engaging in debaucherous behavior, all with a tie-in to the rest of the events. What no one in the town realizes is that Death (Mark McKinney) is in town and has an agenda to fulfill. As is the norm for The Kids in the Hall the guys play multiple parts, and in the case of McCulloch and McKinney, some familiar old roles are resumed (the two lazy cops).
The comedy here never manages to rise up to the standards of the series, but there are a few episodes in the miniseries where it gets very close, specifically “Cause of Death”, the courtroom scenes in which are superb. Yet, the laughs aren’t nearly as free-flowing as they were with the sketch format and you can’t help but long for those days. The show does manage to satisfy though, and for fans who’ve watched their DVDs of the original series to the point of memorization, there’s enough here to keep you revisiting it down the road, albeit not with as much deserved frequency as the five seasons. The story is entertaining, and the euphoria of seeing the guys of The Kids in the Hall back in action will probably carry you through the first few lackluster episodes to the ones where the comedy starts picking up.
As this is a bigger story and not a series of sketches, there are quite a few non-KITH players involved. None of them really stand out though.
Ultimately, Death Comes to Town ranks a few notches above Brain Candy, but it still leaves the viewer thinking one thing above all else: The Kids in the Hall are out of their element in attempting a long-form narrative. They were the Canadian kings of random, insightful sketches and it’s what their fans most wanted to see. However, if we have to settle for a narrative then Death Comes to Town does a decent job paying homage while incorporating their signature style. Again, for the best example of this within Death Comes to Town, check out the “Cause of Death” episode.
DVD Bonus Features
The extras are nothing special once you’re done with the Dave Foley and Bruce McCulloch audio commentaries, which are pretty funny. The remainders include a tepid blooper reel and some deleted/extended scenes. It’s surprising how disappointing the blooper reel was considering the guys involved.
"The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town" is on sale May 24, 2011 and is not rated. Comedy. Directed by Kelly Makin. Written by Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Kevin McDonald, Scott Thompson. Starring Dave Foley, Kevin Mcdonald, Bruce Mcculloch, Scott Thompson, Mark Mckinney.