The Kids are back and they're all right. Admittedly, this series which aired on IFC didn't receive very good notices from mainstream critics upon its initial release--but perhaps it was this lack of expectations that caused "Death Comes To Town" to be a pleasantly goofy surprise. Sadly, I'm not as young as I once was and, in many ways, I feel like I've grown up with the Kids in the Hall. I've followed their older shows, their individual careers, and I even saw them live about 10 years ago. So, for good or bad, I was investing time with "Death." Perhaps not as laugh out loud funny as their most inspired work, "Death" has a pleasing silliness and is an appealing comic mystery.
From its opening scenes, in which Death (Mark McKinney) disembarks from a bus in small town Shuckton, we know we're in for an unconventional miniseries. The show, while always amusing, builds its premise over the episodes and its humor succeeds more and more as the characters are developed. When the mayor of Shuckton is killed, an innocent man is railroaded and the real culprit remains a mystery. Amidst all the turmoil and local politics, we've got Death lurking around with a secret agenda of his own. Playing multiple characters, as is their trademark, the Kids acquit themselves nicely. I loved Dave Foley as the mayor's ambitious widow (a dead ringer for Cybill Shepherd--I swear it even if you think I'm crazy). McKinney is terrific as Death and Foley scores again as the town's abortionist. By my favorite has got to be Bruce McCulloch's big city prosecutor. The trial in "Death" is inspired and is successful in skewering both small town mentality and classic courtroom procedurals. And one poor cat will be the sight gag that I remember forever!
I don't think, ultimately, that "Death Comes To Town" is revolutionary television. But I was entertained and there was a nostalgia factor at work. I think "Death" is certainly more successful than "Brain Candy," so that's a plus. I would recommend this work to fans of the Kids--I think, however, that they may divide on how worthwhile it is. Some will dismiss them as past their prime, some will embrace their continued lunacy. New viewers, without preconceived notions, may be pleasantly surprised. In an era of cookie cutter TV, at least this isn't standard fare. The Kids get a passing grade from me and extra credit for tying "Death" together will a fully plotted story. KGHarris, 10/10.