The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town -- TV Review

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Deep silliness is not for amateurs. And these days, with so much comedy reliant on bowel movements and man-children or an arch sophistication that often sails over most heads, there are scant few who can do doctorate-level silly. Then again, maybe it's just because the Kids in the Hall haven't been around much since 1996.

With IFC's "Death Comes to Town," though, the doctors are in. The Canadian quintet, whose self-titled show ran from 1989-95 in the U.S., is arbiter of the surreal and silly, much in the vein of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" -- drag attire included. They return to the small screen with this slight but definitely ridiculous eight-episode murder mystery, and none too soon.

The plot -- in which the beloved mayor of Shucktown, Ontario (main industry: rat fur), is murdered and the killer chased down -- is in some ways the least relevant aspect of the show, serving as it does for the Kids (Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson) to run around in various roles doing goofy things.

The B-story, in which snaggled-toothed, leather-codpiece-wearing Death (McKinney) has moved into the town's No-Tell Motel -- the manager notes after a few days that his other guests are "complaining of the stench of death coming from your room" -- is a secondary surreal touch that almost seems irrelevant, until the end.

It might not be the greatest story ever told, but it is told in a greatly funny manner; there's something about the mix of goofy Canadian politeness and aggressive femininity in the drag characters that's instantly hilarious. Elsewhere, their bizarre touches (the mayor's son sees his parents as giant butterflies) and throwaway jokes (the devil grouses over his low rating in the Dark Times newspaper) turn "Death" into a blink-and-you'll-miss it proposition.

The Kids' sense of humor isn't for everyone. But for those who know and love their previous antics, "Death" should come as a welcome embrace. This is a tight comedy team whose members play off of one another with practiced, hard-earned skill. Plus, ill-fitting dresses and wigs. Go to it, gals.

IFC airs the first two half-hour episodes back-to-back Friday.

Airdate: 10-10:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 20 (IFC)
Production: Accent-KITH Prods.
Cast: Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, Scott Thompson.
Executive producers: Bruce McCulloch, Susan Cavan
Writers: Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald
Producer: David Himelfarb
Director: Kelly Makin
Director of photography: Paul Sarossy
Production designer: Gregory Keen
Costume designer: Alex Kavanagh
Casting: Stephanie Gorin
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