The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour Ron Murphy

The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour Ron Murphy
5
Is it possible to write about a Canadian show without considering the general state of Canadian television? Maybe one day we'll see Canadian programs that demand consideration apart from the much-maligned industry that created them — ones we'll think of not as "Canadian shows" but just, you know, "shows." Until then, for better or worse, we're stuck considering our home-grown television in that context. And, make no mistake, The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour needs all the context it can get. A self-described variety show created and overseen by the principle cast of Trailer Park Boys, the show's overlapping sketches and stream-of-consciousness plotting take their cues from Monty Python's Flying Circus and Mr. Show. Subtract the cleverness of those shows, add a hearty dose of Cheech and Chong, and filter it all through Canadian production values and you have the Maritimes' Magical Mystery Tour, minus the music. It's a complicated recipe that gives disappointingly scattered results, although scattered appears to be all that Mike Smith, John Paul Tremblay and Robb Wells wanted. Although a through line finds the trio playing fictionalized versions of themselves as they awake from a hallucinatory drug trip three weeks into filming a variety show, it's merely a platform that lets them intercut clips of the show-within-a-show, drug trips, flashbacks and meta fourth-wall breaking. Most importantly, it lets them play a range of characters, far from the confines of their trailer park alter egos, which seems to be the point. Smith does impress as a character actor, while Wells holds his own and Tremblay struggles but plays along. Essentially a holiday and self-reward for the principle cast, in its original airing the show amounted to a trippy, six-episode curiosity. Now recut as a "movie," with six episode-length "scenes," The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour exists on DVD as a 140-minute frustrating trip. It's not a bad trip, but not a good one either, just frustrating because it's such as wasted opportunity. One of the last Canadian programs to attempt similarly absurdist humour was Comedy Network's Hotbox, which predictably was under-promoted, didn't draw an audience and was cancelled; Smith and company might have brought over audiences from Trailer Park Boys to their new show had they not been so indulgent. The Drunk and on Drugs Happy Funtime Hour does deserve credit for so fiercely resisting giving audiences another Canadian show that tells them to watch with that air of eat-your-vegetables. However, they went too far and created a show so muddled that even the website for the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, which lists the show's one Canadian Screen Award nomination (for Best Cross-Platform Project - Fiction), can't get the title straight. The trio's next project, Swearnet: The Movie, will find them again playing themselves, as well as several other characters, on a fictional television network. Here's hoping that programming their mock network helps them keep audiences in mind. (Anchor Bay)