First, why am I reviewing a comedy from the creators of Trailer Park Boys? Because The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour has more to do with The Prisoner than TPB. This is a trippy, reality-bending series that I enjoyed as much as a spec-fic show as a comedy. Not since Lost have I been so intrigued as to trying to figure out just what is going on.
What is The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour about?
We open with Amy Sedaris as a production executive ranting about footage delivered by Robb Wells, John Paul Tremblay and Mike Smith (who played Ricky, Julian and Bubbles on Trailer Park Boys and also wrote for the series) for their new variety show, The Happy Funtime Hour. The footage is too bizarre to be used and she wonders what the hell they are doing.
Jump cut to Wells and Tremblay waking up in a trashed hotel room. Patrick Roach (Randy from TPB) arrives, explaining that he stashed Wells and Tremblay at the hotel to let the drugs in their systems wear off. They’re six weeks into a shoot and have been high the whole time, so the two men have no memory of what’s happened. We also learn all the actors are playing versions of themselves.
Roach tells them the drugs are in everything, not to eat anything blue (the colour of the drug) and the drugs have made the actors they hired for the series think they really are the characters they’re playing. Before he can say more, he’s apprehended by the police—or actors playing cops—and Wells and Tremblay are on their own to find the last member of their trio Mike Smith.
What follows is a trippy experience as the three men wander the town of Port Cockerton and meet its bizarre residents. However, we never know if the town is real or a set, nor if the residents are actors stuck in their roles or actually live there. Among the characters are pirates, superheroes, soldiers, cops, three gay radio station DJs and a trio of gangsters. Often, these characters are played by Wells, Tremblay and Smith, which makes the experience even more reality-twisting because it’s possible the encounters are all a hallucination.
After two episodes, the plot driver is the boys trying to escape Port Cockerton while avoiding the gangsters, who are convinced the boys know the location of someone named Cincinnati Harry who can save the oldest gangster’s life.
So why is this like The Prisoner?
The show is very meta. At the end of the first episode, the boys are exposed to the drug and began to freak out. Since they’ve been trying to recall what the show is about the entire episode, on the drugs they tell each other that they’re on the show at that very moment. Both a drug induced hallucination and fact for the viewer. And the name of the show they are creating within the show is the same as the show itself.
The police, who may or may not be actors, have the job of keeping people happy by force-feeding them drugs and making sure no one leaves Port Cockerton. Sound familiar?
The show also plays with presentation, often changing depending on characters or if the point of view character is hallucinating . When the cops are on screen, the image takes on a washed-out, 60s-era quality. For the soldiers, grainy black and white. Superheroes turn everything into a cartoon. And we switch from standard TV 4:3 ratio to widescreen.
We also have no idea how many of the characters fit together. While the boys have met the gangsters and soldiers, the pirates’ and superheroes’ roles is still to be revealed.
Is it funny?
The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour is not laugh-out-loud funny as Trailer Parks Boys, nor is it trying to be. TPB was a genuine comedy, going for jokes. This is absurdist humour—bizarre, outrageous and, yes, vulgar.
Will I Keep Watching?
Hell yes, but the show needs to start delivering the goods. While I am intrigued, we have to start to see how the pieces fit together. Like Lost and X-Files, spending too much time on “Isn’t this weird? What’s happening?” storytelling will turn me off.
I’m also worried the show will follow a formula the first two episodes have: the episode starts with the boys waking up after coming off the drugs only to be exposed to the drugs at the end of the episode. Too much formula will also turn me off.
But with an 8 episode season, we are already well into the story and I’m looking forward to what will happen next.
The Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour airs on Action (a Canadian channel) at 9PM.