Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Canadian Sitcoms : The 80's

The 1980's saw CBC with one of it's bigger successes in 1981 with "Hangin' In" which revolved around a Toronto drop in center. It was slice of life comedy that didn't get too whacky or insulting, it's Monday night lead into "Newhart" was prime and the series lasted 6 years.

I had an arial around that time, so I watched the series pretty regularly but for the life of me I can't remember much about it other than I didn't mind it.

Which is not the case with Snow Job, which I had a clever alternative name for (try and guess). Snow Job wasn't funny, at all. Set in a Quebec ski lodge, the show tried hard to be both funny and Canadian, they didn't do either.

It limped along two years and had Tony Rosato (fresh from Saturday Night Live and SCTV) as a guest star. Laughless!

CTV followed up with Check It Out, which was from the same UK TV Producer that made the original versions of "Three's Company" and "Too Close for Comfort", both gigantic hits. Instead of using homegrown talent, they landed veteran comic Don Adams for the part (Apparently Adams was paid a fortune).

Set in a grocery store in "Anytown USA", Check it Out followed the misadventures of grocery store manager Howard Bannister (Adams) and his crew of misfits, all the stereotypes were there, the gay cashier, the slutty cashier, the weasely assistant and of course, the idiot stockboy.

Check it Out was too whacky for it's own good but there were far worse things on US television at the time, so it's probably one of CTV's best (mind you, it's standing next to "The Trouble with Tracey") I had friends who would attend tapings of this back in the day as it was filmed about 15 minutes from our houses.

It ran for three years and later I went to college with the sister of Simon Reynolds, who played Murray the stockboy. he's actually gone on to have a terrific acting career.

The decade closed with Misquito Lake, CBC's kick at the can. I'm not sure what went wrong with this series, it wasn't a lack of talent. Mike McDonald is one of Canada's premiere comedians and Dan Redican was hot off his long stint with the Frantics.

The show was set in Cottage Country and revolved around McDonald and his family, Redican played his neighbour whose wife "Arlene" (whom we never saw) would use a whistle when she wanted Redican's attention. Misquito Lake obviously didn't let McDonald and Redican into the writing room because it was poor at best.


Neal Patterson said...

"Check It Out!" was also aired in the U.S., which is probably why they hired Don Adams for the cross-over appeal. I watched a few episodes, but it didn't hold my attention. Seeing Don Adams as anything but Maxwell Smart never seemed quite right to me.

Tony said...

I wonder why the name of Don Adams' character in "Check It Out!" (Howard Bannister) is the same as Ryan O'Neal's character in the movie "What's Up Doc?"?