Canadian sitcom used to be an oxymoron until stand-up comic Brent Butt came up with Corner Gas. The fifth season of Corner Gas airs Mondays at 9:30 p.m. on the CTV network and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. on The Comedy Network. From the season 5 screener of Corner Gas we received, the show has not lost any if its humor and is not spinning its propeller like The Beachcombers did in the last ten or so years of its existence. Everything is still fresh, the characters are not parodies of themselves, and the stories are all fun to watch.
Corner Gas takes place in Dog River, Saskatchewan, Brent Butt's native province, and tells the stories of the inhabitants of a very small prairie town who have to get along even if they all have their very strange quirks. Butt may be the star and focus of many stories but as an actor he is smart enough to give plenty of room to his very solid supporting cast -there has not been a cast change in the series so far-room for their own laughs and stories. Although Corner Gas is an ensemble cast, a lot of the dynamics comes from the rather placid, easy going Brent and his curmudgeon father played by Eric Peterson.
Corner Gas works as a sitcom because it is well written, well acted, and the stories about a bunch of people in a very small town and the characters themselves are something anyone can relate to. It also manages to be Canadian without being stereotypical and rah rah, something Canadians dislike about their own programming. It's Canadianess is natural and often in the from of an inside joke like when Oscar (Peterson) exclaims Street Legal sucked.
Corner Gas also works because there is no laugh track, the producers assuming Canadians are smart enough to laugh at a good line without being prompted and because there are not enough people in Dog River to fill a studio for the show to have a studio audience.
The dig at the expense of The Beachcombers came to me because of the opening scene of the first episode of season 5 of Corner Gas on CTV when Hank (the excellent Fred Ewanuick) makes the comment that there are similarities between Dog River and the show. Hank is basically nuts, of course, but there is a grain of truth to the comment if you look at the almost totally representin' cast.
Season 5 of Corner Gas opens with Dog River being offered its own cable access show which, of course, leads to dissension and a few very wacky ideas. The show also allows the writers to poke fun at the world of cable access, Canadian television, and, of course, Americans. Other stories in the fifth season will include the cops investigating crop circles, a green show when Brent and Lacey try to reuse and recycle, and Oscar being a school bus driver for a day. Episode two has the ladies of Dog River planning one of those nude fundraising calendars while officer Karen decides to get some exercise.
If perchance you are unlucky enough to miss an episode of the 2007-08 Corner Gas season, shows will be available at CTV.ca and thecomedynetwork.ca on demand. Fans of the show can also go to cornergas.com for other goodies.
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