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Ken and Robin Consume Media: Kids in the Hall, Chip ‘n Dale, Norm Macdonald, and Every Henry Gamadge Novel

May 31st, 2022 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on a little podcast segment we like to call Tell Me More.

The Pinnacle

The Kids in the Hall Season 1 (Television, Canada, Prime; Dave Foley, Bruce McCullough, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney & Scott Thompson, 2022) Awareness of age’s ravages creeps into a new season of surreal and subversive sketches populated by bad doctors, drunk dads, and Kevin McDonald, whose voice goes up high as he waggles his finger in the air for no reason. My rating for this miraculously on-stride revival is that of a diehard who followed the Kids in their Toronto heyday. If you’re coming to it cold, probably Recommended.—RDL

Recommended

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (Film, US, Akiva Schaffer, 2022) Has-been chipmunk actors Chip (John Mulaney) and Dale (Andy Samberg) reluctantly reunite to rescue their kidnapped former co-star Monte (Eric Bana). Peter Pan as the villain in a Disney movie about IP rights aside, this delightfully overstuffed romp nails the Roger Rabbit formula of taking its ridiculous world seriously, with great comic results. –KH

Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks (Film, Canada, Reg Harkema, 2022) Documentary history of the brilliant underdog sketch troupe from their origins in Calgary and Toronto to the prep for their just-released revival season reveals the famously contentious dynamic between this band of adopted comedy brothers. Who knew the worst offender during the Brain Candy fiasco was Kevin?—RDL

MacGruber Season 1 (Television, US, Will Forte & Jorma Taccone, 2021-2022) Upon his release from prison, insecure throat-ripping special agent MacGruber (Forte) tackles an old foe’s deadly scheme, attempts a reunion with his now-married flame (Kristen Wiig) and learns the secret of his mother’s murder. Cult movie adaptation from a recurring SNL skit makes an unlikely return in television form, tripling down on its technique of taking outrageous bits and beating them into the ground until they sputter to life again, and then are again gleefully belabored.—RDL

Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special (Television, Netflix, Norm Macdonald, 2022) Before a procedure in 2020 to treat the cancer that killed him in 2021, Norm taped a 55-minute standup routine on a webcam “just in case things went south.” While (as David Letterman notes during a fascinating half-hour roundup finale of Norm’s peers dissecting the routine while recalling their friend) the absence of an audience means we’re only getting the raw Norm without the adjustments for crowd response every standup makes to the material, the special demonstrates just how very very strong raw Norm was. –KH

Good

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (Film, US, Akiva Schaffer, 2022) An old co-star’s disappearance draws washed up chipmunk actors, risk-averse Chip (John Mulaney) and irrepressible Dale (Andy Samberg) into an adventure resembling their once-loved 80s TV show. Jokes aimed at grown-up animation fans abound in a metafictional romp that doesn’t outright tell us it’s set in the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? universe.—RDL

Every Henry Gamadge Novel (Fiction, Elizabeth Daly, 1940-1951) Henry Gamadge, upper-class document authenticator and sometime bibliophile, solves mysteries embedded in family dynamics: an American version of the “country house” mystery genre. Daly was Agatha Christie’s favorite American writer, and her puzzles equal Dame Agatha’s while her characters remain human and three-dimensional. Gamadge’s real superpower is general genteel niceness: he knows everybody and gets along with most people, he’s the only Golden Age detective you’d actually want to hang with. Daly’s New York is the uptown version of Nero Wolfe’s, and her puzzles are better. Start with my most Recommended titles of the sixteen: Arrow Pointing Nowhere, The Book of the Dead, And Dangerous to Know; then hit the slightly out-of-mode Evidence of Things Seen. –KH

Okay

The Beast With Five Fingers (Film, US, Robert Florey, 1947) In a creepy old house in Italy, an obsessive astrologer (Peter Lorre) blames a venal lawyer’s death on the severed hand of a dead pianist.  Even the granddaddy of undead hand horror can’t fully commit to the premise, leaving the first act, in which Curt Siodmak’s script establishes its cast of gothic, Buñuelian characters, as the strong point.—RDL

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