Thursday, November 18, 2004

Canadian Content

Corner Gas is the latest of a string of really bad Canadian shows that producers keep foisting on us because we have laws here that state that a certain percentage of TV programming must be Canadian. Only this this time there's one small difference: Corner Gas is not really bad. It's really good. And I say this with a lot of disbelief in my voice, because like many Canadians, I don't even believe that this is possible anymore. And so last year, I autimatically flipped right over that show, it may as well have been a blank screen for all the time I gave it. And I know that I am not alone; by definition, Canadian TV is crap TV. But finally, an exception to the rule!!

Corner Gas is distinctively Canadian; it stands out like a sore thumb from all the American programming that surrounds it, and I mean that in the best way possible. It's not full of slick characters who never seem to go to work and yet somehow inexplicably have the money for sexy life-styles far above the national average. It's not full of fast-paced one-liners, either, in fact, it is slow and laid-back, yet somehow manages to keep you laughing from start to finish. And I'm talking about genuine laugh-out-loud material here! The characters on the show are watchable, yet so realistic you could probably walk into any Tim Horton's and find a similar cross-section of characters wherever in Canada you live. The town, Dog River, reminds you of any small town in this vast country; the situations are oddly familiar, from the feeling that everyone knows everyone else, to the cheesy headlines on the cheesy local newspaper.

I'm not sure that non-Canadians would really "get" it, and that makes me feel all the more fondly of it; it seems to put a cultural stamp on Canada that I haven't really seen in anything else. Gone are the days when Canadian TV shows meant painful cliches: shows about duct tape (if you watch The Red Green Show, good for you, it's nice to support this "effort", but I haven't been able to stomach it myself), shows about Mounties , oh, and the ever-popular (and by popular, I mean vomit-inducing) "quaint" shows like Anne of Green Gables and Road to Avonlea which make me embarrassed to be Canadian, and then obvious rip-offs like Canadian Idol which just make me sad. I mean come on, we're not void of talent here, we can do better than this crap! And now, finally, we have. I am sad to have missed the first season of this show, although I believe we can now rent it on if you're in the same boat, I suggest that you do so. As for the current season, it airs on Tuesday nights, 8:00 on CTV, and I am quite confident that you will like it.

My favourite quote from the show: (Emma and Oscar are an older couple who bicker like hell and drive each other crazy...hmm, sounds familiar)
Emma: What's this?
Oscar: I'm naked
Emma: Well I didn't think you were holding a wrinkly purse.

It's about time that we keep some funny people here. I can't remember willingly watching a Canadian show since Kids In The Hall (and man have I missed those boys!). It seems that Canada has been exporting our most entertaining people for a long time: Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, Michael J. Fox, Eugene Levy, Shatner, Eric MacCormack, John Candy, Brenden Fraser, Phil Hartman, Joshua Jackson, Dave Foley, Norm MacDonald...well, I could go on, but it's not necessary. You know who they are. We hear about them in the newspapers as in "Jim Carrey, formerly a Canadian, has completely sold out and now is an American citizen, and you guys can have him-good luck." And you can't help but wonder, if we could somehow keep even a fraction of these people here, maybe we wouldn't be stuck watching various perversions of Degrassi for the rest of our lives.

So far, it seems like we can only keep our musical talent here, and only until they crack the elusive American market. I remember the good old days when the Barenaked Ladies were just a bunch of goofy guys making good music and silly videos, and then some American bought their record, and all of a sudden they have product in their hair and pairs of $1400 sunglasses. It doesn't seem to matter that it was Canadian kids who bought their early stuff and got them off the ground. And Shania Twain, the ingrate, took 3 years to even come visit the tourist centre that was built here in her honour. Alanis Morrissette is a rarity in that even with success, she still occasionally visits us, and will possibly even marry in her hometown of Ottawa (she's engaged to Ryan Reynolds, a fellow Canadian I might add). It gets to the point where we find ourselves being very quiet about our top talent. I love Our Lady Peace but I would hesitate to tell an American about them, because one whiff of the American audience and they'd be saying "Canada who?"

No comments: