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STUDIO: A&E Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 500 Minutes
• Archival footage
• Commentaries on selected sketches by the Kids
• Two “Best of Season 4” compilations picked by fans
The Kids in the Hall return for their penultimate season of comedy.
Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson
It’s the fourth season of the show and things are moving like a well oiled machine at this point. The show’s standard mix of live sketch comedy, brief interludes and more elaborate taped segments all blend perfectly together now.
By your powers combined…
This season places less of an emphasis on recurring characters with only Buddy Cole and Chicken Lady making prominent appearances. The standard Canadian police and street hooker interludes are inserted all-throughout the season.
Some of the more famous and noteworthy sketches in this season include: “The Night I Connected with my Dog,” Love and Sausages, Inexperienced Cannibal, The Escape Artist, and Career Crisis.
The Kids in the Hall formula was well established at this point in the show’s life span, so the Kids felt comfortable enough to experiment with some more radical sketch ideas.
The zenith of this experimentation comes in Love and Sausages, a bizarre and surreal sketch that evokes 1984 and Brazil. A young worker in a sausage factory is forced to care for his sickly father who cares for nothing but sausages. As he works in the factory during the day, inspecting sausages with a magnifying glass, he daydreams about a fellow employee he has fallen in love with. His daydreams include turning his boss into sausages and marrying the girl in the middle of the sausage factory. After work, he smuggles boxes of sausages out of the secure factory in order to feed his father.
Late at night, Lookout Bear and Whazzat Kangaroo would get down and dirty. Bill Der Beaver? He just liked to watch.
The show has a few of these types of sketches and it’s one of the things that helps make Kids in the Hall unlike other sketch comedy shows. There are no blatant jokes or punch lines to these types of skits. The audience is expected to bring something to the table here and understand the references. It’s an odd sort of intellectual comedy, but on the other hand it’s also absurd comedy in the vein of Monty Python, the central joke being that a 1984-esque tale based on a sausage factory is pretty ridiculous. It’s the type of comedy that won’t appeal to everyone, but people who it does appeal to will absolutely love it.
Of course, the majority of Kids in the Hall isn’t made up of surreal filmed sketches. There’s also plenty of inventive and traditional sketch comedy. The Kids always managed to get the most out of even the most flimsy of sketch premises. Part of that comes from their own willingness to admit how they loathe coming up with premises and stretch them to ridiculous lengths. The main strength of the sketches in the show is that the Kids never linger and are quick to keep firing off sketches at a rapid fire pace. That’s the advantage that comes with a half-hour comedy show.
And you thought the Borg were scary.
The only glaring weak spot in the entire season is the episode entitled “Chalet 2000.” Instead of the usual assortment of sketches, the entire episode follows a story arc dealing with Buddy Cole and the Queen of England. Buddy Cole is already a big “love him or hate him” sort of character that’s barely tolerable in small doses. Focusing on him for an entire episode is complete overkill and the joke just isn’t strong enough to sustain it. It’s a rare misstep from the Kids and not an episode many will revisit. At the very least it shows that they weren’t afraid to try something a little different. That or they really didn’t feel like coming up with some sketches and gave Scott Thompson free reign to do an entire episode.
The special features on this set cater to people too lazy to click remote buttons. Are you too lazy to put in the individual discs to watch some of the best sketches? Just put in the extras disc and watch the two “Best-of” compilations. Commentary by the Kids is available on both compilations. The five cast members have a great rapport with each other. The only negative aspect of the commentary is that there isn’t nearly enough of it. Forty minutes worth of commentary is unfulfilling, especially since some of the best sketches weren’t even included in the compilations.
The other big feature is archival footage of some famous sketches. It’s more of a curiosity than anything else. It’s interesting to see the Kids performing some of their more well known sketches in an intimate theater environment without the use of any props. There’s nothing good in the archival footage that wasn’t present in the finished sketches, so they’re only worth a viewing if you want to see the sketches at their most basic.
The rest of the features include a slideshow, cast biographies and trailers. The catering to slothful individuals continues with the slideshow, which is automatic and set to the Kids in the Hall theme song. No more clicking buttons to move from picture to picture! Welcome to the future!