The Kids In The Hall: Death Comes To Town airs its first two episodes tonight on IFC starting at 10pm EST.
[NOTE: I've reviewed this miniseries based on the first two episodes alone, since that is what you all will see here in the States. If you want to watch it all, well, I'm sure there are some online sources that you didn't hear from me.]
The Kids In The Hall specialize in tragic characters with huge blind spots—especially ones they can exploit for comic gain. This eight-part miniseries, which has already aired in Canada, centers on a whole town of these misfits. Shuckton is the kind of place where hooligans steal manhole covers and huff hand sanitizer. It's a place where the community turned on a beloved boy after one youth hockey game. It's a place where the mayor is a celebrity of platinum status. He can enter a diner to eat your food right off your plate and stick his tongue down your girlfriend's throat right in front of you—and you'll be thankful he stopped by. The rat fur industry is booming, the town abortionist is always busy. The word "quaint" doesn't even really do Shuckton justice, which makes the opening montage—an inept bid from the mayor, his wife, and his "special son RAMPOPA" for the 2028 Olympic games—that much more adorably pathetic.
It also serves as an ideal setting for when actual tragedy happens. Satan himself, a bondage-loving Mark McKinney, rolls in to town and checks in at the one seedy motel. He immediately sets to work collecting prey, sending pizzas to that former hockey star Ricky (Bruce McCulloch), now a balloon of a boy who uses levers and pulleys to bring himself food so he doesn't have to leave the couch. Meanwhile he enters the home of the mayor the night of a drunken argument with his wife, and watches on as another hooded figure beats the mayor, also McCulloch, to death. The second of tonight's two episodes opens with the unfortunate luck of the mayor's wife (Dave Foley) discovering the mayor's bloody carcass jutting out of the family mailbox.
Yes, Death Comes To Town isn't always laugh-out-loud funny, but the Kids In The Hall diligently introduce characters that find their own style of funny amidst the chaos. The law enforcement guys are particularly screwball, trying to trick people into admitting they were the culprit using extremely simple logic. (Mayor's wife: "It was the night of the murder—" Cop: "I dunno, was it?!?") Scott Thompson as the lead investigator is a delight, too, and not just for the abundance of "bag it" orders; his character enters the fold with a relationship to the mayor, his wife, and the town. The Kids In The Hall rarely ever throw in people who don't have a part to play, and it keeps the show streamlined.
There's a little bit of Twin Peaks in Death Comes To Town, in that the murder shakes up other seemingly unrelated town dynamics. The local news team gets a lot of screen time in these first two episodes, in which we witness the weather girl take over for the lead anchor after she drunkenly hooks up with the boom mic operator and oversleeps. (Heather Weather breaking the murder story: "As a trained meteorologist, I can tell you [the mayor] was discovered under partially cloudy skies.") The news team is only tangentially related to the story so far, but provides enough comic relief to make its scenes something to look forward to.
The strangest part about Death Comes To Town is death himself. The Kids have made him physically repulsive (that snaggletooth will haunt me) and had him interact with a few town citizens so far, but few character details have revealed themselves. He's a bit player in this richly conceived world, and it's a strike against the miniseries that he remains off to the side, quietly rooting for Ricky to croak. It's a minor concern, though, because the Kids In The Hall have set themselves up with fun characters to exploit and bend to their comic whims. Plus—and this is no small feat—the Kids In The Hall are back on TV, and they've aged gracefully.
- "Please close your jacket."
- "A lot of people think the weather stops when the sun goes down."
- "You've gotta be kidding. I'm three-eighths your age."
- "Dear form letter…"