January 31, 2009

Crushing Cabbage Heads: KITH Pilot/Season One

(Updated on 12/18/2020 with a side note: A&E released the Kids in the Hall pilot as a separate disc due to rights issues; you can find it included in Mill Creek's best of package, which includes the later Death Comes to Town)

It's hard to believe, in a world where South Park has raised the bar on shocking, satirical comedy, that the Kids were considered groundbreaking in their content. They were initially sold as mocking "the surburbs", but beneath their comedy was an incisive look at relationships, sexual politics, and an exploration of the darker areas of existence. Later series will see them developing the idea of "arcs" within their sketches for their characters...but it all began with a group of five improv stage veterans putting together a television show.

I first watched the pilot episode after reading a piece in Rolling Stone, and for years, it was considered a "lost" treasure, half of it being released as a "best-of" compilation. (The pilot is available through another company in its entirety, and the compilation on the Season One Boxed Set through A & E Home Video). In a way, although I can recommend watching the full video, admittedly, one or two sketches don't really hold up...but overall, there are some sketches that really need to be seen. (And by "need to be seen", I mean, "Naked for Jesus"). We see the first appearances of Buddy Cole (or, as Scott Thompson has called him, an "alpha fag"), Mr. Tizik (or the infamous "head crusher") and Cabbage Head (a man with, well, a cabbage for a head). It is, admittedly, a little stage-y (remember, the Kids had spent five years honing their skills at the Rivoli in Toronto - they weren't the hardened tv writers that Monty Python were at a similar point), but quite frankly, it shows a lot of promise....

...which begins to be fulfilled in Season One. There is still an unevenness in the sketches, but that actually works to their advantage. The Kids were beginning to find their footing, and it's really cool to watch a troupe eventually find their voice. When we get towards the end, with sketches like Running Faggot and Dr. Seuss Bible, the Kids' sketches seem much more comfortable, and they appear much more comfortable in their writing and performances.

If you're a fan, you're probably going to agree with everything I say - for those new, I suggest the season one boxed set, and the pilot only if you're curious. You'll get half the pilot in the boxed set anyway, and unless someone posts "Naked for Jesus" on YouTube (unlikely), there's not much you will be missing.

Kids in the Hall: Pilot - Recommended
Kids in the Hall: Season One - Very Highly Recommended

Next Month: Season Two!

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