It’s okay. You can still call the kids of Kids in the Hall, who are all hovering around the half-century mark, kids. With age comes immaturity. The beloved Canadian sketch troupe is back with a relatively linear miniseries, Death Comes to Town, stocked with an almost entirely new set of characters, all of whom are suspects in a grisly political murder. The suck-face mayor of Shuckton, Ontario—a sleepy little burg of 27,063 with slight undertones of Cicely, Alaska—has just led an unsuccessful campaign to attract the 2028 Olympics. No sooner has the town gotten the bad news that they won’t actually be hosting the games than the mayor turns up dead, found with his head crushed not between someone’s fingers, but inside his own mailbox. This being a town where it seems only the abortionist can enjoy steady work, just about everyone is potentially a suspect. (Well, the prime suspect is Death himself, whose paunch is exceeded in prominence only by his codpiece.)
But for the sake of clarity, Death Comes to Town mostly focuses on the freaks, geeks, and transsexuals played by Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Scott Thompson, Mark McKinney, and Bruce McCulloch (who conceived the series). Among the most prominent townspeople are McKinney’s inept anchor for the town’s breaking news station, one whose masthead promises “facts, opinions, tid-bits”; Thompson as the town coroner, who turns out to be much more emotionally close to the murder victim than anyone who doesn’t know Thompson always plays gay characters would ever suspect; Foley as the mayor’s newly widowed and very much alcoholic trophy wife coming to terms with her status as an ex-MILF; McDonald as a good-hearted but scatterbrained pizza delivery granny; and McCulloch as her best customer, a 600-pound fallen hockey star who now spends his days watching TV and controlling his environment with a series of pulleys, but who you just know is going to pull through and save the day in the end.
That is, if he doesn’t cross paths with a sexy French-Canadian whore in the interim. The Kids’s penchant for turning out grotesque portraits of North American mediocrity hasn’t waned since their early-‘90s salad days. If anything, their arrival into their midlife years has added an extra pathetic layer to the satire, as in the scene where McKinney’s dowdy anchor tries to perform a sultry striptease in a peanut-shell sports bar. No sooner has the coin gone in the jukebox slot than her intended beau has skipped off to the other side of the room to hit on a cute young thing, who slaps him and scoffs, “You’ve gotta be kidding me. I’m three-eights your age.” Unfortunately, their capacity for contempt is not matched by their once peerless gift for caricature. And as much as I’d like to give them credit for not simply trotting out older, needier versions of the Chicken Lady, the Headcrusher, Buddy Cole, and Cathy and Kathy, none of their new characters seem worthy of transcending their mundane milieu.