By Jay Kerner
Everybody’s looking for something new to view. A populace already watching hours daily, is now largely, stuck at home with nothing much else to do. I’ve probably seen a hundred posts in the last couple of weeks, from folks looking for suggestions. I figure you don’t need help finding the “Tiger- Murder- Hunter”, whatever of the day. That stuff’s everywhere. We like hidden gems. So here’s one that the whole family can watch: Corner Gas.
We’d never heard of it, till I we stumbled onto it last year sometime.
It’s Canadian. Had no idea there was so much programming from around the world, yet alone from our closest neighbor. Had no idea we’d like it. But, we do!
It’s the creation of Brent Butt, and let me state right here, I think Brent Butt is a genius.
First, he’s a guy that more or less, looks like his name. Being generous, let’s just say, not your typical leading man material. So what does he do? He writes a show, casts himself in the lead, and surrounds himself with talent.
He plays Brent, the owner of a gas station/convenience store out on the Canadian prairie. It has a café attached, owned by the young, fetching Lacy. Their constant bantering/flirting is sort of the foundation of the show. Somewhere around the middle of the first season, I figured out their secret formula; Corner Gas is the Canadian Cheers, which itself was a re-worked Andy Griffith Show.
Don’t buy it? Hang with me a minute here.
Brent and Lacy are Sam and Diane. (Or Andy and Miss Crump.) Our apologies to Mr. Butt, but he would seem to be about as opposite a physical specimen from Sam or even Andy as you could get. (Told you he was a genius.) But his role in the show is the same. He’s pretty much the straight man for all the crazy characters around him. The café counter is the bar where everybody knows your name. Canuck Mayberry as Dog River, Saskatchewan.
You’ve got the know-it-all. Corner Gas’s Cliff Claven/Howard Sprague is Wanda, constantly filling any lull in the conversation with unrelated facts.
You’ve got the good-hearted knucklehead. Hank is their Woody/Gomer/Goober.From there, it gets tricky. A straight character for character swap would be too obvious. So, Corner Gas mixes things up a little with different attributes spread around through the rest of the cast.
Brent’s parents are a big part of the show. His mom is a snarkier Aunt B, and his dad is a skinny, little grouch that used to run the station. Calls everybody “jackass”. Lot of Barney in him.
There are a handful of other regular and semi-regulars. There are also a lot of cameos with well-known Canadians. (Is that an oxymoron?) Anyway, I seldom know who they are, but the characters on the show always seem impressed.
Like most sit-coms, each episode has its’ own story with little-to-no carry over from one to another. Usually, somebody is getting worked up over nothing. This week, it’s a class reunion, the next, infighting on the softball team. (They have a Curling Team, too.) Over 6 seasons, there’s an episode about almost any activity a mixed group can pull off together.
And it’s funny. Maybe not LMAO funny. Maybe it’s not even Cheers or Andy funny. (Few are.) But it’s funny in that sort of kinder/gentler way. It’s not cutting edge. It’s not hip or current. You won’t recognize any of the actors. But you’ll get to know them. They’re all quirky. Like people you know.
It stands to reason there must be something to it, to last that long. There’s even an animated version and a feature length movie!
And your kids can watch it, if they can sit through something without explosions or tech wizardry. And no Zombies! But who knows, maybe a semi-low-brow, character driven comedy, will hit home with them somehow, like it did us. Find Corner Gas on Amazon Prime and give it a look, whydontcha?