Comedy fans south of the (U.S.-Canadian) border have been forced to be patient for visits from The Kids in the Hall.
The Canadian comedy quintet's oddball, often-hilarious TV sketch show didn't debut in the U.S. until 1989, a year after the program began airing the Great White North.
Now the troupe's welcome return – "The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town" – is set to make its U.S. premiere Friday night on IFC, eight months after first appearing on Canada television.
The eight-part, four-hour reunion miniseries marks the group members' biggest collective splash since their cult movie "Brain Candy" opened in 1996 – back when they and many of us were a lot closer to being kids.
The new show, which revolves around the murder of the mayor of a small Ontario town, isn't exactly cloaked in mystery. Thanks to the Internet, barely a toddler when the troupe's last TV episode aired some 15 years ago, "Death" lives in various pirated clips and episode-by-episode descriptions.
Death (as personified by Mark McKinney) is a snaggle-toothed, bike-riding, pot-bellied demon who snorts the powdery residue of souls like cocaine. As with their old show, McKinney, Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald and Scott Thompson play eccentric characters of various ages, gender, reaching new levels of the grotesque (check out McCulloch's obese ex-athlete character).
The Chicken Lady and the great Bellini are back (no apparent sign of the Headcrusher, though). But the Kids, for the most part, are playing a new hall. Judging from clips, the miniseries has the feel of "Twin Peaks" mixed with "Little Britain," which, like "Kids," owes much to "Monty Python’s Flying Circus," far beyond cross dressing inspiration.
The miniseries, in which the Kids strive to sustain their latest collection of eccentric characters past sketch length to drive the plot, has garnered mixed reviews. But nearly a generation after our last dose of "Brain Candy," we're eager for a fix.
Tune in to see whether "Death" was worth the wait.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.