Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bidding adieu to the good folks of Dog River

I am not very familiar with Saskatchewan. I’m not ashamed to admit that, it’s just a fact of life. I’ve gone through it on the train and have flown over it a few times, but that’s about it for me in terms of the place. I know a few things about Saskatchewan, however. Such as:

- it’s very flat.
- It has grain elevators
- It’s horribly cold in the winter
- It’s hideously hot in the summer
- Mounties train there
- A lot of people are ‘from’ there, like my first wife.
- Oh, and Corner Gas was set there.

Corner Gas probably did more to familiarize folks with Sasklife than anything else has in the past. From CG we learned that in this particular part of Saskatchewan

- it was never stinking hot;
- it never seemed to be winter;
- one episode once concerned mosquitoes but they didn’t seem so very terrible;

- the sun was always shining.
- there was no bigotry against native Canadians in that part of Saskatchewan and the top cop was aboriginal but never-ever nodded to his heritage;
- nobody seemed to do much of anything but they got by;
- nobody ever had a life-complicating relationship;
- there was no smut and seemingly no sex;
- no crime;
- no violence.

In other words, as television goes, CG had all the makings of a failure. Yet it was a huge smashing success. That’s an anomaly for a Canadian TV show, especially a comedy.

Canada has turned out some fine TV over the years, but mainly in the realm of hard-hitting news and advocacy stuff, and we have much to be proud of in that regard. But drama, and especially comedy was often sorely lacking and drew viewing audiences of like nine people. That’s despite the fact some of the top comics and comedic actors in the business originated north of the US border, like Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, Rick Moranis, Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Leslie Nielsen, Michael J. Fox, Matthew Perry, Dave Foley, Tommy Chong, etc, etc.

See, we have to be funny because the winters are so long.

Yet, TV comedy never served at a level commensurate with those foregoing talents. Until Corner Gas, that is.

CG was the brainchild and creative endeavor of the marvelously named Brent Butt. Even he thinks the name’s funny. This once and future standup comic created the tales of the teeny town of Dog River, Sask. And based it loosely on the hometown of his childhood.

The rest, as they say, is history.

CG sold widely throughout the world and many people loved its kind gentle and funny view of the world. In that, Dog River is like Sheriff Andy Taylor’s Mayberry, that North Carolina hamlet that could never have really existed any more than Dog River can really be found in the harsh climate of Saskatchewan.

But, in our hearts in a harsh world, the Dog Rivers and Mayberrys give us a bit of hope about the essential goodness of folks.

Corner Gas aired its final episode last evening. It was purposely killed by Butt himself, who wanted to go out on top. I, for one, will miss them.



Blogger Leesa said...

I have never heard of CG. For some odd reason, events north of the Mason-Dixon line are met with curiosity and wonder by me. It is not that I fail to pay attention but it is just not part of my consciousness. I don't really know much about Prarie Home Companion either (I know enough to know it is not Canadian). But it is in the same boat for me.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Jazz said...

To my shame, I never ever watched it.

But it'll no doubt be out on DVD!!!

8:30 AM  

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