Sketch Group grows in Amazon Revival

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While a slew of beloved, bygone TV shows have been revived for the streaming era, there aren’t many precedents for this type of revival in sketch comedy. It makes sense: there are fewer hit comedy sketches than there are sitcoms or dramas, and many of the most famous lineups would now be incomplete (like “SCTV” or “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”), or featured too much. of incarnations to come together. correctly (like the many casts of “Saturday Night Live”).

There’s also the question of how sketch comedy is often fueled by youthful vitality. “The Carol Burnett Show,” for example, was a massive 11-season hit in the 60s and 70s, but a 1991 revival quickly flopped despite arriving just 13 years after its original finale – around the same time. since Canadian comedy troupe Kids in the Hall last appeared on television.

That said, it also makes sense that the Kids in the Hall would reverse that dire prospect and ride the wave of television’s renaissance. On the one hand, they have already come together: for the eventful production of the 1996 feature film “Brain Candy”; for live tours in the 2000s that featured mostly new material; and for “Death Comes to Town,” the ambitious but seemingly half-forgotten 2010 miniseries that marked their last big project together. All of this work shared a comedic style and even some characters with the five-season original TV series. Amazon’s new eight-episode series of “The Kids in the Hall” is designed to replicate that show’s vibe even more closely: same sketch and character structure, same theme music, same original kids Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson.

Of course, these children are not exactly the same; at this point they are well into middle age, a fact that does not escape the whole self-deprecation. The first episode of the new series features “Brain Candy” CEO character Don Roritor (Mark McKinney) (whose speaking voice is modeled after “Kids” and “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels) , and his assistant Marv (Dave Foley) discuss rebirth, which involves all five children being exhumed from the grave where they were buried at the end of the original series. Throughout the five episodes provided for review, characters new and old necessarily turn to older versions – sometimes more desperate, and sometimes, as with Dave Foley’s self-proclaimed classic rock DJ playing a single seven-inch record since his basement after an apocalypse, almost defeated. When their classic child character Gavin makes a brief appearance, a supporting player wonders aloud if McCulloch is a bit too old to still play him.

Yet the indignities of aging also prove an unusual fit for these forever children, as their comedy has so often adapted to life’s darkest and saddest absurdities. (That hilarious, divisive feature “Brain Candy” is all about the chemical and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to cure depression or even mild dissatisfaction.) That comes across as especially clear as several new kids’ sketch locals ruminate on the times. changing and finality. In another revival of older characters, longtime colleagues Kath (McCulloch) and Cath (Thompson) preside over their company’s final fax transmission. Thompson’s beloved monologue, Buddy Love, shows up to commune with the world’s latest glory hole. There are also some surprisingly topical points, like a Zoom call hilariously and explicitly inspired by disgrace expert Jeffrey Toobin. More often, though, kids are happy to poke fun at their new demographic, like when McDonald’s plays an older lady who wants to photograph her trendy restaurant’s food for “social media.”

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Sometimes the Kids run the risk of appearing, well, not exactly out of touch – their Python-via-Canada sensibility is too singular to be commonplace – but perhaps a little musty. If the skit on, say, the weight loss faucet that can drain fat from a human body sounds a bit familiar, and behind the satirical curve, it may be due to its origins as part of a stage performance. 15 years ago. Another revival of their tour, the superhero parody “Superdrunk,” was probably funnier live, where it may be further removed from its all-too-familiar ’60s Batman aesthetic. (Although 15 years later, which remember clearly?) A subtle production change changes the context of some of these sketches: while the original series featured a mixture of filmed plays and traditional live TV-style sketches, the new series is all the old . It gives the show plenty of stylistic dexterity from longtime director Kelly Makin and new addition Aleysa Young, but some pieces might have been fun to watch as simpler productions, much like when “SNL” airs a pre-release track. -recorded that could have worked as a traditional sketch.

It’s quibbles, however, with a series that’s mostly funny and hasn’t lost its sense of sass over the years. (The occasional nudity and gore goes far beyond what even longtime fans might expect.) What stands out most clearly from the new “Kids in the Hall” is the comedic chemistry between its five major cast members, who seem downright thrilled to bounce off each other. again. Foley, McCulloch, McDonald, McKinney and Thompson have all been staples in film and TV comedy over the years and have done a lot of outstanding work apart. Their reunion, however, is able to deliver something unusual for sketch comedy: the silly illusion of growing old together.

“The Kids in the Hall” premieres May 13 on Prime Video.

What's new on Amazon Prime Video in May 2022
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