Monday, 17 October 2016

Corner Gas - Greatest Sit-Com in (most of) the world!!

Since the announcement of this site, mere seconds ago, the Blogpaper inbox (ianblogpaper@gmail.com by the way) has been inundated with a deluge, nay, a tsunami of mail wanting to know more about hit Canadian t.v. show Corner Gas.  Although I am aware it will take me a good few too many hours to do, taking my precious spare time away from family, friends and getting my undies washed, I will answer all three mails in one sitting.

I will address all the questions put to me by the mails I have received and answer them as fully as I can, preferably without actually doing any work and/or research. I am sure we will all come away from this post all the better for getting to know the characters of Dog River and some of the people who helped bring them to life.
customerservice@tescomobile.com asks – “Are you aware of our new lower rate tariff?”

Well this is a great question and one that doesn’t often get answered in the proper detail.

Corner Gas ran for six seasons, airing on CTV, (Canada’s number one television station that boasts these initials placed in this particular order) from 2004 until 2009. Each episode tells the story of its eight main characters and the day-to-day life in the sleepy town of Dog River, Saskatuue…skatattyian…Saskatchewan which I am reliably informed is an area of Canada known mainly for naming its provinces based on the first letters that fall out of a Scrabble bag.
Brent Leroy played by Brent Butt
Lacey Burrows played by Gabrielle Miller
As the shows ear worm inducing theme tune reliably informs us, Dog River is a place where not at lot is going on. A sleepy town where everybody knows everybody else’s business. Each episode is centered around Brent Leroy gas station owner, his neighbour Lacey Burrows owner of The Ruby cafe, Brent’s squabbling parents Oscar and Emma Leroy, local Police officers Davis Quinton and Karen Pelly, Hank Yarbo local unemployed, self-proclaimed entrepreneur and Wanda Dallard – gas station co-worker and know it all.


Hank Yarbo played by Fred Ewanuick
The stories of each episode will have the main characters getting into situations to humourous effect, which I believe – and don’t quote me on this – is where the term situation comedy comes from. Hank will announce his latest wacky money-making scheme which will be met with derision and shrugs from all. Oscar, deluded that he is capable of mastering any project he sets his mind to, will set to his latest  task which will end in disaster much to the delight of Emma who enjoys the opportunity to rub it in his face. Davis and Kelly desperately attempt to be effective law enforcement in a town with seemingly no crime what so ever. Lacey will try to enthuse locals into starting book clubs or getting involved in town council meetings to minimal effect. Wanda points out the idiocy of her fellow Dog Riverians, whilst casually chewing rope liquorice and finishing a crossword puzzle, as is her right to do so as she has somehow been the only one blessed with most of her synapses firing in the right order. There is then Brent in the middle of most things firing off a sharp quip or witticism and is often the unwilling participant of all the daftness that surrounds him.

Oscar Leroy played by Eric Peterson







The second question out of our full to bursting mail bag is from dukeedmund@hotmail.co.uk, he asks – “Please can you send me your bank account details and pin number please to please be able to release the deeds into your name thank you please”

Well actually you would be right Edmund, from my rather shoddy description of the show and characters above, you would be correct thinking this is a fairly by the numbers set up for a sit-com, which I believe – and don’t quote me on this – is the shortened variant for the term situation comedy, which you might remember, I mentioned in the previous paragraph.Where Corner Gas scores over so many is the quality of the writing and the performances of the strong actors given the task of breathing life into the denizens of Dog River.
Brent Butt, Mark Farrell, Paul Mather and Andrew Carr and a few others produced the scripts for the show between them. The skill in which they weave the stories with gags, verbal and visual, ranging from the ridiculous to the so subtle you could miss them is second to none. A particular favourite episode of mine finds Lacey, a Scrabble player of outstanding ability (and possibly member of the Canadian Province Naming Commity), taking on Hank an obvious vocabulary deficiency at said game. In a heated round Hank spells the word “ARRRHHHHHHH” which Lacey counters as not being a proper word, an indignant Hank argues “I have a Superman comic that would disagree with you”.
I would like to tell you about certain members of the cast being stand out. I don’t think that would really be fair. To point out particular actors would suggest the other performances are not as strong. Not true, as every actor involved does a fantastic job with the material. In each episode each actor is given their own time to shine and after viewing I guarantee you will be looking them up on Google to see what else they have done in movies and t.v. before whipping over to You Tube to try to find videos.
I have found in the past that perfect casting is often the make or break of a show, Fantastic case in point being the also mostly absent from U.K. screens Married….with Children. We in the U.K had a brief fling with the show in the late 80’s, where it was slapped in between “V” and Sledge Hammer at about 3 a.m. before it quickly disappeared. The fact that it was only me and a select few that had seen the show over here didn’t stop ITV from making their own version of it. Married..with Children was hilarious, its english knock off was anything but. However, as I remember, the scripts were word for word identical, the abysmal performances of the English cast let it the material down.
Brent Butt, Gabrielle Miller, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Nancy Robertson, Fred Ewanuick, Lorne Cardinal,Janet Wright and Eric Peterson are all on top form. They make you want to visit Dog River and cosy up at the hotel bar and have a listen to the hi-jinks.
Dog River is a character in itself. The series was filmed in Rouleau, Sassykittylitter. The town has benefitted from vast amounts of tourists visiting from around the world keen to see the true home of Corner Gas. If you are British and have visited Rouleau – how did you know about the show, and why didn’t you tell me about it?
My final mail is stiffsteve@floppybegone.com, he writes “Your order of member enhancement tablets has been shipped”

Well Steve, there is a way for us English chaps and chapettes can enjoy Corner Gas. Box sets of each season are available on Amazon at very reasonable prices and are Region Free meaning all U.K. D.V.D players can handle playback. There is also a Corner Gas Movie (to be reviewed on a later post) available on DVD and Blu Ray – both of which are also region free. So people of England, go buy, watch, laugh and enjoy – let your mirth bring comedy balance to the world.
Corner Gas has been sold to television stations all over the world, however England seems to have been over looked. We seem to be treated to every instantly forgettable U.S. T.V. drama or comedy that gets cancelled within a season or less, but the quality entertainment seems to be criminally over looked. I found Corner Gas by accident by searching for a show that lead me to a link for a show which had a picture of a cover of a Corner Gas DVD on its website. I am lucky to have an inbuilt Fart Joke Detector and was instantly attracted to the word “Gas” (please see my previous post regarding my being maturity impaired) and looked the show up. I was disappointed to find little or no flatulence based humour, however I was glad to say I had found what has now become my favourite t.v. show destined for many repeat viewings.