The fifth and final season of the CBC's finest gift to the world, The Kids In The Hall ran from 1993 through 1994 and produced twenty-one episodes in total (with one '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 (continuing the tradition that started in the fourth season) 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 once again, notably in the final episode where he's given the chance to speak. 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 five years into the series. It's a shame that they decided to end the show when they did as most fans feel that they probably still had a lot of good material in them, but at the same time, it's better to burn out than fade away and in that regard maybe it's for the best that they didn't really allow themselves the chance to go down hill as a lot of sketch comedy shows have done.
As with any series of any sketch comedy show, some bits work better than others but with the troupe having found their groove by the second season, here we find them at the top of their game going out on a high note. Sure, some skits fall a little flat but more often than note the fifth season proves to be the most consistently funny of the bunch. Highlights here include recurring characters like the two cops or the two hookers. They both get plenty of screen time here, and Gavin shows up to interact with a few different cops while his father is being arrested to scalping tickets to a Leafs game. Feelyat – which is performed in Dutch (or at least faux-Dutch) finds Daryll competing on a game show where he has to try and ascertain what the object is inside the box that he cannot see simply be feeling it through giant rubber gloves. It's tough to explain why this bit is funny when it's not really done in English, but there's no doubt that it is.
The show continued to play around with different stereotypes, particularly those found within the gay community. The recurring Steps skits take pot shots at the different kinds of gay men one could easily find hanging out on Church Street in Toronto, with Scott Thompson (the only gay member of the group) playing Butch to perfection. Their bickering and the way that the writing and dialogue plays up to these stereotypes sort of subverts them, and it's always funny. Of course, Buddy shows up here as well, giving a fantastic monologue about the time he spend in Montreal, explaining in detail why he loves the city and the people there so much. Speaking of Scott Thompson, one of his finest moments is included in this set, and that's the Danny Husk – Husk Musk skit in which his decision to stop using his Speed Stick inspires the company he works for to harness his scent, making it a worldwide phenomena.
Kevin McDonald tackles a man's unhealthy obsession with his facial hair in The Beard, while Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney carry on a torrid love affair as Kathy and the dry cleaner respectively in The Dry Cleaner. The girls in the office can't believe their ears! Religion is dealt a swift blow in the God Is Dead sketch while the Kids take a pot shot at stereotypical American tourists in Loud American Shopper, both of which are stand out moments. A creepy Village Of The Damned knock off finds Dave Foley leading a gang of cleanliness crazed Small Town People on a crusade to lick their town clean while Mark McKinney's attempts to start a fight in the ongoing Crusin' For A Bruisin' bits are always good for a laugh.
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. Hopefully one day they'll get back together and produce some new material, but until then at least we've now got the complete series on DVD, uncut and in nice shape.
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:
Idiot Boy - Assistant/Cops – Interrogation 1/Feelyat/Cops – Interrogation 2/Catching Up – Martyr/Cops – Interrogation 4/The Beard
Cops – Interrogation 5/Please Please Please/Special Sauce/Chance Meeting/Cops – Interrogation 7/Document/Grizzly/Cops – Interrogation -Finale
Hookers – Drum Up Business/How To/Just One Guy/Hookers – Rap Music/Por-Eef/Jug Head/The Hit
God Is Dead/New Boots/Hookers – Porno/Rocky Hookers – Price List/Montreal 2/Dessert
Lesbian & Gay Pride/Waiter With Stumps For Hands/Squealin'/Gavin – Leaking/Protest/Good To Cry 2/Drag Queens And Leather People/Sounds
Cruisin' For A Bruisin' 1/Teen Reporters/Mad With Power/Sick About Crime/Business Opportunity/ Cruisin' For A Bruisin' 2/New Poets, New Philosophers/ Cruisin' For A Bruisin' 3/Each Day We Work
Slow Mo/Relocation/Hookers – Heart/Lookin' For Love/Take A Letter/Hookers – Date/Duck Blind/Hookers – Skanky/Big In France
Call Me 1/Hobby Horse/Old People/Got Ya/Call Me 2/Step Class/Call Me 3/Needed Elsewhere
Steps – Parents/Loud American Shopping/Loves Ya/The DTs/Great Ideas/At The Movies
Small Town People/Last Call/Lovers 3/The Bank/Elk/The Truck/Lovers 4/My Training
Test Tube Baby/Dry Cleaners/Hookers – Kid/Dignity/Let Sleeping Dogs Lie/Hookers – Mom/Problem With Relationships
Good Connection/Extreme Roommate/Armada – Check 1/Shoe Shine/The Monkeys/Under Dog/Armada - Camera Man/Danny Husk – Husk Musk
Poor Richard/Bartending Wedding/Hookers – Hopeful/Darn Near Puked/Hookers – Boyfriend/Activist – Die/Armada – Mute/Dance
Cops – Looting/It's Nothing/The Bikini Inspector/Cops – Guns Fired/Yes Minister/Written In Haste/High-Tech Car Alarm
Uncouth/Play Back/Penny/Brucio/All's Fair In Love/Fran - Identity
Secret Pleasure/Errands/Gazebop/What If?/Experiment
Creative Possibilities/Butch's Phone Sex Party/Weekend With Daddy/Living Proof/Big Bucks
Cops – Why/Personal/Exercises/Steps – Cause Of Aids/By Stan/Bellini Day
Francesca – Syntax/Sperm Bank 1/Unannounced/Sperm Bank 2/Impulsive/Sperm Bank 3/Operation/Sperm Bank 4
Armada – Check 2/Crowd Control/Encyclopedia/Junk Mail/Armada – Nice Face/Liquidation/Sam And Janet/Stair Climber
Episode 21 – The Series Finale:
Bellini – Opening/Armada – But Does Armada Make It?/Tribute To Berman/Empty Bar/Things We Couldn't Show/A.J. And Death/Bellini Speaks
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 is one Season Five Best-Of Compilation episode. Skits included in this episode are:
Best Of: God Is Dead/Hobby Horse/Penny/Play Back/Please Please Please/How To
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 four sets. If you check around on the menu screens, you'll find that once again, as it was for the last four sets, the compilation episode comes with an optional commentary from the five Kids In The Hall, which is definitely worthwhile for fans of the show. The humor that they show in the skits carries over nicely to this 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. The track is interesting and funny, and thankfully never boring - like all good commentary tracks should be. This makes the 'Best Of' episodes less of a rip-off and much more of an actual bonus feature.
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) and some trailers for other A&E releases available on DVD.
While there aren't as many extra features on this release as there were on the first four boxed sets, the sketches and the episodes hold up really well and offer a lot of repeat viewing pleasure. The material looks and sounds quite nice and The Kids In The Hall – The Complete Fifth 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.