Twitch City, originally broadcast on the CBC in Canada and Bravo in the United States, is as close a Canadian situation comedy has been to the very offbeat and quirky humour of BBC comedy shows. This is a surreal sitcom set in Toronto, Kensington Market to be precise (look for Al Waxman, the King of Kensington, as a vagrant in the first show) about a couch potato agoraphobic TV addict and his frequently changing roommates. Twitch City The Complete Series features all 13 episodes on 2 DVDs
The title of each episode Twitch City episode is based on the Jerry Springer like show Curtis (Don McKellar) is always watching such as I Slept With My Mother or I Look Like Joyce De Witt (featuring the Three's Company alumni as a guest star). McKellar basically carries the show on his own with occasional help from roommate Hope (Molly Parker), girlfriend of his first and now jailed roommate Nathan, who is renting a closet / bedroom in Curtis' pad.
The comedy in Twitch City comes not only from the very bizarre Curtis but also from the roommate of the week even when, as in week 2, the roommate is boxes of Chinese cookies or very weird cat lady. There is also an ongoing concern about cats that I do not quite get. Things get even weirder when Nathan is released from hail after killing Al Waxman and almost catches Curtis and Molly in the act. Curtis is even able to rent the room by the hour when the roommate is not there.
Curtis is quite good at figuring out ways so he does not have to go out including being pretty good at garbage toss to the curb. He also has a clever way of getting out of it when anyone confronts him about either his agoraphobia, his manipulative personality, his TV watching, or his general sloppiness.
Episode 5, I'm Fat and I'm Proud, brings an interesting change of pace as Newbie moves in and challenges Curtis (Don McKellar) both romantically and for Hope's (Molly Parker) attention. Curtis even almost leaves the apartment. The remote control championship round a la "nothing but net" is certainly cool. The last two episodes of season 1 of Twitch City have Nathan appearing on the Rex Reilly (Bruce McCullough), show. One is told from Curtis' point of view, the other as seen from Nathan while he rots in jail (a very Canadian jail in many ways). The last of these two shows lacks a bit of energy but it is still fun especially because Nathan actually campaigns for cell block campaign. This is a very OZ styled show that ends with Nathan unknowingly putting a contract on Curtis.
Twitch City DVD 2 features the six episodes of the second and last season of this weird situation comedy originally aired on CBC, Bravo, and ABC in Australia. It features a new Rex Reilly (Mark McKinney). The second season also starts off brilliantly with Curtis trying to give up TV for Hope in some kind of Pon Far Trekkie ritual. Listen carefully for his many TV references. The ending to this episode, Shinto Death Curses, is certainly ironic. The second show in season two is Klan Bake. Curtis weasels his way onto a Meals on Wheels program, saving him from shopping and getting food and Hope rents the spare room to a group of faux-finishers aka Nazis.
Things get even weirder when Nathan's (the Cat Food Killer) former cell mate goes free and decides to kill Curtis as a sign of friendship. Curtis gets to go out and quips "Funny thing about the outside, it's just like TV." Also a lot of fun is the part where Hope has Curtis watch a relationship self-help tape and realizes she is doing everything the experts says you should not do.
Definitely beyond weird is the episode on Twitch City DVD 2 where there is a sci-fi style show where cats have taken over the world. It has nothing to do with the rest of the series but it is quite fun to watch. Episode 12 features Jennifer Jason Leigh -wearing a CBC t-shirt and an in-joke-- as student who wants to base part of her Master's thesis on Curtis (Don McKellar) and his lifestyle.
Not everything is crystal clear in Twitch City but you are willing to go along for the ride. The thirteen episode 2 DVD set, unlike other comedy DVD box sets, is not something you can go through in one sitting, it is simply too quirky for that, but in doses of two or three shows at a time it is quite enjoyable.
The last episode of Twitch City has the most appropriate ending to a situation comedy ever. Pay attention to the end credits.
Special features include commentary track by Don McKellar, Mark McKinney, and Daniel MacIvor for some episodes.