The news that Kroll Show‘s third season would be its last was bittersweet. Nick Kroll’s sketch comedy series is brilliant, unique, and so utterly hilarious that nothing would make me happier than new episodes every week for years and years to come. But thankfully, Kroll Show doesn’t want to overstay its welcome by becoming one of those shows that grows stale and repetitive. If Season 3 — which premieres tonight on Comedy Central — is any indication, though, Nick Kroll has enough material for all of eternity.
One of the best things about Kroll Show is that it exists within its own little universe, a place where the fictional characters on various fictional television shows (mostly reality programs) know of each other, collide with each other, and even form relationships. It’s the most serialized sketch comedy show on TV — many similar programs are known for recurring sketches, but Kroll Show goes above and beyond with season-long arcs that make the viewer form attachments to these crazy characters, and become invested in their stories.
This is still apparent in Season 3, with lots of returning favorites like “Gigolo House,” which is now ridiculously titled “Gigolo Horse” and involves the gigolos playing — obviously — a game of HORSE, but also participating in various other competitions, such as lying to their aunts about what their job is. (Also, CT from The Challenge appears in “Gigolo Horse” this season and is totally game for everything; Henry Rollins has a cameo in a later sketch.) “Rich Dicks” and “Wheels, Ontario” are both back, as is the sublime “PubLIZity” — waiting three episodes for that duo to show up was excruciating — and the truly strange “Dr. Armond.”
Kroll Show admirably finds ways to continue featuring these characters without making them feel overused. Armond has always been able to seamlessly insert himself into various Kroll Show “shows,” and this time he finds himself on a dating show (hosted by Casey Wilson), trying to woo women while fighting the urge to bring up his dead wife (he was acquitted on a technicality, the series constantly reiterates). His plot thickens, as does everyone else’s.
But before that, throughout the three episodes sent to critics, Kroll Show introduces a few new characters and sketches. “Dead Girl Town” is a spot-on parody of all the hard-boiled detective shows that center on pretty women getting murdered. A sample exchange between two detectives: “You think she’s a stripper?” “She’s a dead girl, isn’t she?” If Kroll Show Season 3 was nothing but episodes of “Dead Girl Town,” I’d still love it, perhaps even more.
In a true testament to the program’s serialized nature, Kroll Show‘s characters change as the storylines progress (which is not to say that they all learn or grow). Bryan La Croix, the Canadian teen star who stars on “Wheels, Ontario,” has moved on to more “mature” music with a pop song about not wanting to go to bed early. Bobby Bottleservice, of “Gigolo House/Horse,” realizes that it might be time to settle down. Liz (Jenny Slate) from “PubLIZity” is now a mother, while other Liz (Nick Kroll) has a new surprise of her own, which is very silly but played so dramatically that I won’t dare spoil it here. Even the tuna pranksters George St. Geegland and Gil Gaizon from “Oh, Hello” are literally on the move for much of their appearances.
It isn’t often that you see characters develop and evolve within a sketch comedy show, but that’s what sets Kroll Show apart, and what has always made it such an engaging watch. In this final season of Kroll Show, it’s clear that Kroll is nudging the characters toward the end of their respective storylines, but the series is even funnier because of it.