What You Should Be Watching: Corner Gas
On WGN Superstation in the United States:
In a Nutshell: (Clerks+Seinfeld/It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) + Northern Exposure
I’m absolutely tickled by what Canada has been serving up on the box lately. Sure, they gave us SCTV, The Kids In The Hall and The Red Green Show, but it’s been an awfully long time inbetween those and their latest offerings: Trailer Park Boys (2001-2006), Corner Gas (2001-present) and Little Mosque on the Prairie (2006-present). While TBP didn’t get much of a showing in the US, and Little Mosque on the Prairie might not ever have a chance here (it totally should), America is finally getting a full taste of Saskatchewan’s answer to Seinfeld – Corner Gas. WGN, which has been a part of most basic cable packages for years, picked up Canada’s favorite show (now in its 5th season in Canada) and put it in heavy rotation.
You really don’t want to miss this one, folks.
The premise is very simple – it’s about a small town in Saskatchewan called Dog River (population ~500). The town center is a gas station run by Brent LeRoy (Brent Butt) that he has taken over from his retired father, Oscar (Eric Peterson). The station is connected (think “truck stop”) to a small diner called Ruby’s, which is now run by a displaced Torontonian named Lacey (Gabrielle Miller). Brent’s unemployed but forever-scheming friend Hank (Fred Ewanuick) hangs out at the gas station, as does the rest of the town. Brent’s sole employee Wanda, his mom Emma and the two town cops round out the cast. Plot lines revolve around little schemes and happenings in the town.
As I said – extremely simple. However, the writing, acting and even the editing makes this show extremely compelling and even – dare I say it – laugh-out-loud funny! I know this makes me sound like TV Guide but honestly people, I try not to steer you wrong here (please ignore my previous attempts at liking Studio 60. We all make mistakes.) I was ready to not believe the hype, but the first scene of the first show caught me off guard and made me let out a huge guffaw. Yes, I guffawed out loud. It’s that good.
You’ll note in the In A Nutshell description, I liken the show to Clerks (about goofy characters who hang out all day at the convenience store), Seinfeld (a show about nothing, with terrific acting), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (today’s Seinfeld) and Northern Exposure (fish out of water in a sleepy northern town).
Corner Gas is more like Northern Exposure and less like Seinfeld in that it has sympathetic characters. On the flip side, it’s a little more edgy than Northern Exposure and zero drama. Fast camera breaks to illustrate stories and the geekiness of some of the characters’ conversations bring it back into Clerks and …Philadelphia territory. And, the amazingly deadpan dry humor of writer/star Brent Butt rounds out the perfectness to make it a show entirely worth watching. I guarantee you’ll like the freshness of it and at the same time find it to be a style you feel comfortable with. Extremely dry sarcasm and unapologetic Canadian-ness makes it hard to look away. And don’t worry if you miss a few episodes – they’re completely self-contained.
This show has made all of Canada go ga-ga for Gas for the past 4 years, receiving numerous awards, breaking new ground (first show to have Canadian Prime Minister guest star, first show to release a previous season on DVD before a new season is out, etc) and I’m guessing it’s second only to Hockey Night In Canada. This could very well be Canada’s The Office or The IT Crowd, so be sure to jump on the bandwagon early before America turns it to shit.Written by JessB
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