The fourth season of the CBC's finest gift to the world, The Kids In The Hall ran from 1992 through 1993 and produced twenty episodes in total (with two 'Best Of' episodes piggy backed on top of them in this set). A&E in conjunction with Broadway Video continues with the standards of excellence that they brought to the table with their complete releases of the first three seasons, and now the fourth finally hits DVD, uncut and uncensored.
Dave Foley, Mark McKinney (before he went onto Saturday Night Live), Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson and Kevin McDonald are once again all in fine form here, but one thing you'll notice in this season as opposed to the earlier ones is the inclusion of some outside players. The five original Kids are still definitely the stars, but this time out we do see some extras brought in for certain skits and bits, as well as the inclusion of Paul Bellini, who shows up clad in his towel for the truly off the wall Spot Paul Bellini Contest (which this reviewer actually tried to enter when the episode first aired, and I'm probably not the only one who took it at face value!). The inclusion of the extras doesn't hurt anything in the least, and the wit and wackiness that the series is known for is still razor sharp even four years into the series.
The most unusual episode in the set is Chalet 2000 in which Scott Thompson plays his two most famous roles, that of Buddy Cole and Queen Elizabeth II. In the skit, which lasts the entire episode, the Queen gets tired of photographers following her around and so she heads to Northern Canada to relax with her friend and confidant Buddy for a while. While she's there she has a torrid affair with Buddy's adopted son, a beaver played by Bruce McCulloch, and avoids a tabloid photographer named Lanky Dean (McKinney) who is still on the chase in hopes of capturing her in some rather unorthodox situations. This is a stellar episode full of all sorts of great little jokes but there's one big problem with it – if you're not Canadian, this isn't very funny. Having grown up in Canada, this one hit home and it really worked on a personal level but if you don't know of Canada's relationship with the Queen or of the Cour De Bois from the country's past, a lot of this might go over your head.
The rest of the material, however, is very friendly to international audiences and while sure there are references to certain oddities of Canadian culture throughout the show, none of them are impenetrable or difficult to figure out for those who didn't spend their formative years in the Great White North.
Regular viewers will be delighted to see a few familiar characters return to the screen in this season. Mark McKinney's Chicken Lady shows up at her ancestral home and takes an impromptu tour while Kevin McDonald's Bearded Lady waits for her in the car outside. Bruce McCulloch once again resumes his role of Gavin, the curious and strange little boy with a penchant for making up ridiculous stories, this time telling some door to door evangelists of a kid he knew at school who died after his blood was replaced with apple juice. The cops shows up in many of the episodes, as do the hookers played by Dave Foley and Scott Thompson in full on drag.
Another highlight and a fan favorite from this season is McCulloch as pop star Tammy, performing in her new video, I Don't Spread For No Roses, a completely raunchy song about how she won't sell out accompanied by an even raunchier video wherein McCulloch, in drag and in character, receives oral from a man and avoids various ejaculatory fluids. This is dirty and subversive humor at its finest and while maybe it isn't as poignant as it was when it was first made, what with Madonna having changed her image about seventy times since, it's still worthy of a serious belly laugh.
Francesca Fiore and Bruno Ponce Jones, Thompson and Foley respectively, also show up here when Francesca is taken to court for beating up her husband, played by a wormy McDonald. A skit where Scott Thompson playing a sales manager heads to a manly retreat to get in touch with his inner animal is also hysterical, particularly when he 'becomes the wolf.'
Overall it's a great selection of episodes featuring a lot of the classic characters we know and love from the show as well as a host of new 'one shot' bits and clever monologues as well. The Kids In The Hall got away with a lot more as the series got more popular and this fourth season is a notch or two dirtier than what came before it but the end result is still the same – it's funny stuff!
The episodes contained in the fourth season of the show are spread out across the first three discs in this four disc set as follows:
Cameraman Memorial/Night I Connected With My Dog/Hookers Undercover/Repair/Hair Styles/Rude Awakening/Hookers - Tourist/Would You Do an Alien?/Work Pig
Shwodown - Phonecall/Age/Showown - Good Looking/Darrill Dream/Showdown - Creature/Virtual Sex/Deer By the Water/The Escape Artist
Fiore!/Hookers - Holdin' Out/Fantasy/Plastic Surgeon/Hookers - Ventalin/Can You Dig It?/The Big House/The Pains/John Wayne
The Pardoning/No Contest/Showdown - Fish/Hookers - Phone Sex/Evil Patients/Showdown - Bruce And Dave/ Cheating/The Sandwich People/Mr. Wrong/Mrs. Ondaatje
Newscasters/The Fun Never Stops/Perks/Neckbone/So Says You/Sex Girl Patrol
Deer By The Water/Radio/Cathy/Apartment Games 1/Knife Sharpener/Food/Apartment Games 2/Forceful Friends/Maria/Apartment Games 3
The Beatles/Chicken Lady Homecoming/He's Hip/Hiring 1/Patient-Doctor/Things To Do/ He's Hip/Hiring 2/He's Hip/Hiring 3/Judy, Fran & Gaugin
Hookers - Rich Guy/Gavin - Religion/Try It Now!/Just Terrific/Hookers - Puppet/Coincidence/Listening In/Hookers - New Coke/Thanksgiving
Chalet 2000 (Acts One, Two and Three)
Receptionist/Walk A Mile In My Shoes/Cops - Rookie Trick Question/A Soulfulness They Never HAd/Cops - Rookie Coffee/Answering Machine/Celebrity/Cops - Rookie Puke/Divorce Court
Alan Bouvier/Career Crisis/Nice Day For Work/Hookers - Plastic Surgery/Armada - Understudy/Hookers - Commitment/Lost And Found/Clothesline/Hookers - Too Easy/Comfortable High
Luck/Fine Line/Tuck It In/Losing My Religion/Serpico/The Hangover/Wild Man
Cops - Fridge/Third Time Lucky/Cops - Spring/Exposed/Hookers - Documentaries/Nudity/Cops - Europe/Business World/Katnapped
Cannibal/Children/Bellini Contest/Wrong Number/Tammy - Roses/Borrowed Art
New Guy/Dad And Son Phone Call/Cops - Puck/Clear The Air/Seat 12B/Cops - Hair/Rollerblades/Love And Sausages
Guilt/The Kathies - Monday Meeting/The Voices/Steps - Hot/Becoming A Man/Steps - Drag/The Collector/Steps - Issues
Pops/Poker Face/Cheers/Cops - Worms/The Nap/Cops - Hungover/Contest/Just One Bite
Hookers - Transvestite/Excellent Composer/Hookers - Movie Star/Quarter Life Crisis/Cemetery/Drunk As A Crow/Advantage
People - Bike Courier/Ricarda/Chargin' Ya/Atrium/People - Winnipeg Chick/Art Studio/People - Hopeless Romantic/Surrogate
Cabbie/Seminar - Gezbo/Diploma/Cabbie Two/On Board/Scary Sandwich/Extreme Arguement
Seeing as this material was all made for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and shown on television, it should surprise no one to find that the image is presented 1.33.1 fullframe, which is how it should be. The video quality is pretty good overall and these episodes look a little sharper and marginally more colorful than the first three seasons did. There is some evidence of mild damage to the materials used for the transfer that shows up in the form of the odd speck here and there but this doesn't show up often at all. Some mild edge enhancement is also present as are a few instances of compression artifacts but everything is quite clean and watchable throughout despite these small problems. For a TV show fast approaching fifteen years old, this set does do justice to the visuals with nice color representation and accurate looking skin tones. The odd small flaw in the presentation is easy to overlook as they don't really distract from the material much at all and each and every one of the episodes looks just as good if not better than they did on broadcast television.
The English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is pretty solid for the most part and again, things sound a little better than the first three seasons did. Dialogue is sharp and clean and always easy to follow while the laugh tracks are never overpowering nor is the background music. There's not much going on at all in the way of channel separation but the material hardly calls for it and this audio mix is perfectly sufficient for this release.
First up on disc four are two Season Four Best-Of Compilation episodes. Skits included in these two episodes are:
Best Of 1: Fiore!/Things To Do/the Collector/The Night I Connected With My Dog/The Escape Artist/Steps - Issues
Best Of 2: Cannibal/Try It Now!/Hookers - Puppet/Lost And Found/Career Crisis/Hookers - Transvestites/Answering Machine/Chicken Lady Homecoming
Seeing as all these skits appear in the original episodes as presented on the first three discs in the set, why bother, right? Wrong! But you knew that if you have the first three set. If you check around on the menu screens, you'll find that once again both of the two compilation episodes come with optional commentary from the five Kids In The Hall, both of which are definitely worthwhile for fans of the show. The humor that they show in the skits carries over nicely to these tracks, and they skewer one another and their producers throughout but also manage to detail some of the history of the show and explain some of the backgrounds of the characters and where some of the strange ideas came from. Both tracks are interesting and funny, and thankfully never boring - like all good commentary tracks should be. They also spend a lot of time flat out lying about things, making up stories that are obviously fake but still a whole lot of fun. This makes the 'Best Of' episodes less of a rip-off and much more of an actual bonus feature.
Aside from that, there's another selection of never before released clips from the early KITH live performances done at the Rivoli Theater in Toronto before they found fame on the CBC. These were shot in the fall of 1988 and the early winter of 1989 just as the Kids were starting to gain a following and just as the first season was about to launch on the CBC. Some of this content is slightly raunchier than what you might be used to from the TV show, as they don't have to worry about censorship issues and can really cut lose. While the quality lacks in terms of how the presentation looks – this material looks like it was all shot on a handheld camcorder from – the content delivers and just like the live performances on the first three sets that preceded this one, the live material is a lot of fun. There are a few bits where the humor does fall short but even when that happens this is still interesting material in that it's pretty cool to see how the troupe morphed from a stage act to a TV act and some of the changes that they incorporated into their act to make that happen.
Rounding out the extra features is a still gallery in slide show format, and biographies for the cast members (these biographies are the only extras to appear on a disc other than the fourth one, and are on Disc One).
Those who like their comedy with a bit of bite and who aren't put off by the sometimes completely off the wall humor are probably already hip to the series and will likely already know that they want this set. Those who haven't checked out one of the most creative and one of the funniest television shows to ever come out of Canada would be doing themselves a favor by giving this set a shot. Either way, The Kids In The Hall – The Complete Fourth Season comes highly recommended!
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.