Cathode Ray Mission: THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE (1992)

 CanTV expert Cameron Archer navigates the often inhospitable landscape of Canadian television for the CATHODE RAY MISSION, our regular blog column that highlights some of Canadian television’s most offbeat offerings.

So, you’re a sketch comedy troupe. You’re not from Toronto, Vancouver or Newfoundland, yet you’ve found your way onto a national network, CBC Television. You’re even part of CBC Television’s efforts to prove it knows comedy beyond CBC Radio stalwarts like ROYAL CANADIAN AIR FARCE and DOUBLE EXPOSURE, and failed sitcoms like MOSQUITO LAKE. Sound outlandish? It wasn’t such a far-fetched idea near the end of February 1992, when THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE (CBC, 1992) debuted.

The basic formula
THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE  is essentially the Edmonton version of THE KIDS IN THE HALL (CBC, 1988-94). The troupe performs risqué humour in the KitH style. Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie are longstanding Edmonton fringe theatre regulars, so CBC obviously expected THREE DEAD TROLLS to succeed.

Each episode consists of sketches, musical bits, and monochromatic blue transitions, as performed by troupe members here are Neil Grahn, Joe Bird, Wes Borg, and Cathleen Rootsaert. “Mr.” Frank van Keeken is an added attraction…inasmuch as van Keeken was an attraction, in 1992.

The weird bits
This was the era of THE KIDS IN THE HALL, CODCO and COMICS! In that light, there’s nothing weird about this show. THREE DEAD TROLLS IN A BAGGIE has a heavy fringe flavour, and is about in line with what CBC Television aired in 1992.

At the same time, 1992-era CBC looks strange in 2012. Granted, Lorne Michaels outright handed CBC THE KIDS IN THE HALL, and CODCO‘s roots date back to the early 1970s, but CBC actually built around those two shows. I miss that era. I accept that it’s not coming back.

Let’s Watch
“Part two” of the second episode.THREE DEAD TROLLS, by and large, is studio-bound. Compared to THE KIDS IN THE HALL, which benefits from Lorne Michaels’ backing, and elaborately-produced location segments, THREE DEAD TROLLS is a lower-budget affair.


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