‘Corner Gas’ running out of fuel
We don’t think Dog River has gone to the dogs, but we do think it’s time to shake things up a little …
By BILL HARRIS — Toronto Sun
The question before the committee is whether Corner Gas has become Cornered Gas.
The CTV sitcom is into its fourth season. The fictional metropolis of Dog River, Sask., has only eight notable residents.
Storylines rarely carry over, which means fresh comedic situations must be manufactured for each episode.
Brent watches his first horror movie. Hank forms an unofficial fondue club. And in the episode set to air tomorrow (8 p.m.), Oscar and Davis compete to be named “newsmaker of the year” by the Dog River Howler.
Some of the tangents are funny, some of them are not. It’s the same with any sitcom. But it leads us to wonder just where Corner Gas is on its inevitable popularity arc.
This needs to be said up front: We generally like Corner Gas.
We have no idea why. It’s clunky. It’s cornball. It’s always summer, even though it’s Saskatchewan. It’s the type of show we usually would hate, hate, hate. But we don’t.
Maybe it’s because it’s so darn Canadian, but not in a smug Rick Mercer kind of way. Maybe it’s because the characters are so likable. But that’s not to say there aren’t weak links.
The two cops (Lorne Cardinal as Davis and Tara Spencer-Nairn as Karen) and Brent’s mom (Janet Wright as Emma) usually don’t bring much to the table (as far as the characters go, not the actors themselves). And as memorable as Eric Peterson is in the role of Brent’s dad Oscar, his constant unreasonable irritability can be tiresome.
But there’s something about the core foursome — Brent Butt as Brent, Gabrielle Miller as Lacey, Fred Ewanuick as Hank and Nancy Robertson as Wanda — that continues to click.
Ratings thus far this season have been down a bit. Granted, for a Canadian-made show, Corner Gas still is quite healthy, attracting more than a million viewers per episode. But on average, about a quarter of a million former fans seem to have drifted off in the fourth season, based on the early returns.
A good sign for Corner Gas is that we encountered several fans who were outraged last week because they felt they had not received enough advance warning of the time change (from 8:30 p.m., up to 8 p.m.). That kind of loyalty notwithstanding, the creators must guard against stale Gas.
We always have loved the cameos in Corner Gas. Tomorrow there’s an appearance by former Canadian Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, and while her stiffness makes it hard to believe she used to make her living in broadcasting, we applaud her willingness to participate.
In last week’s episode, however, both Brent and Lacey got job-shadows from the local high school. And as limited as the kids’ roles were, it was refreshing to have the Dog River regulars interacting with other local residents, rather than just talking back and forth to themselves.
Is it time to add another quasi-regular character?
Now, if this were an American sitcom, bingo! Brent and Lacey would have a baby.
We’re not suggesting anything that desperate. But it might be time to shake up the Dog River clique just a touch.
It has been four years with the same folks. Even in a town as tiny as Dog River, maybe eight isn’t enough.
‘Corner Gas’ running out of fuel