Just a reminder that tonight is the first episode of the CBC’s Kids in the Hall miniseries, Death Comes to Town. My reaction to the first episode was less rapturous than Raju Mudhar in the Star, but certainly a lot more positive than John Doyle, who hated the whole thing. It sort of resembles a TV miniseries version of Monty Python’s features: a loose story that incorporates a lot of little sketches along the way. I found the connecting story (about a soul-sniffing Grim Reaper who, as the title implies, comes to town) the weakest part, and the sketches, as they always are in these things, are uneven: some hit, some miss.
I won’t talk too much about which ones missed because we all have our own choices for which bits work and which ones don’t, but I liked everything involving Bruce McCulloch’s forced happiness as the Mayor. The small-town mayor who’s a beloved good guy in public and something entirely different in private is an old stereotype, and that’s fine, because comedy is built on stereotype, and McCulloch’s insane desperation brings something new to the character. Where the jokes don’t have much of a spin on them (small-town news people are inept; mythical figures are pathetic slobs), it didn’t grab me. But I found it a fun 22 minutes and I look forward to the other 150+ minutes.
While the series is well-produced, though, it does have that slightly cheap look that Canadian productions can never quite get rid of, in terms of lighting especially. I don’t know if that’s a budgetary issue; I guess it is. Anyway, comedy doesn’t need to look beautiful. After all, the best work of KitH (and I also prefer Monty Python’s cheap TV shows to their features, and the low-budget Holy Grail to the bigger-budget later features) was in videotaped studio performances and hastily-filmed outdoor segments.