Monday, April 13, 2009

Top 5: And that's why you can stay so long ...

Corner Gas' writers have always mined the world of sports and competition for laughs throughout the show's run, which ends tonight (7:30 Saskatchewan time on CTV). Like King Of The Hill, it's always understood the way people in small towns can get caught up in some good old-fashioned healthy competition, as a way to help pass the time.

It's captured the fun of fandom, like the time Brent Leroy dressed up in his full Saskaman grab to show his devotion to the Roughriders — and weirds out 'Riders players Gene Makowsky and Matt Dominguez when they stop at The Ruby for lunch with a couple tickets to an upcoming game. It got into the drama of human competition when Brent and Karen went head-to-head in an eight-game Summit Series of table hockey.

As a way of giving thanks, here's the shows top five sports-themed episodes. It's not meant as definitive. Really, it's supposed to be random, like the show itself.

"Bend It Like Brent" (Season 6)

Brent and Lacey start trying to outdo each other after signing up as co-sponsors for a youth soccer team coached by Davis Quinton, the local RCMP officer. It's worth it since it takes the piss out of both soccerphobes and the pretensions of footy fans. When Davis corrects Lacey for saying soccer instead of football, she asks him, "What's the word for someone who uses British expressions even though they aren't British?" ... "A wanker." ... "Good to know." There's also:
"Brent, who's your favourite football team?"
"That's easy, the 'Riders."
"No, I mean football."
"Oh, the Minnesota Vikings."
"No, I mean in England."
"Oh, that would be a tie between the Manchester I Don't Give A Craps and the London Not A Real Sports."
A tension soon develops between the co-sponsors. Lacey wants the team to win at all costs, whereas Brent wants to give them candy even when they lose.

"Face Off" (Season 1)

Ignore the fact that having the prim-and-proper female lead emerge as an unlikely ringer ripped off a Cheers episode where the gang challenged Garry's Old Town Tavern in bowling. (In the Cheers episode, Diane Chambers emerges as the bar's best bowler — she took a class in it at college since she needed a phys-ed credit and you could read between frames.)

The Dog River Riverdogs hockey team is beyond hopeless, but the scores they lose by are never too embarrassing thanks to the goaltending of Brent, which means they never have to try too hard. However, Dog River's rival, Stonewood, is urging him to defect to their side ahead of an upcoming showdown,, forcing Brent to choose between playing with friends and actually having a chance to win a game. Lacey, though, saves the day by stepping in as the team's first coach. "A lot of teams have coaches now," reasons Brent. "Even in the NHL."

Lacey's infusion of strategy helps Dog River eke out a 1-1 tie. "Ha-ha," Brent tells the Stonewood players. "You suck just as much as we do."

"At The Good Old Table Hockey Game" (Season 4)

Hockey is not the national sport, contrary to popular belief. It's road hockey. When Davis buys a vintage table-top hockey game for the police detachment and discovers Karen is a god with the rods, table hockey becomes the local obsession.

Before long, thanks to Davis and Wanda's big yaps, Brent and his old-time, dump-it-in-the-corner style is put up against Karen's crisp, precise passing attack in an eight-game series — four in Brent's parents' basement, four at the cop shop. Lacey is the only one who doesn't get caught up in it, until Wanda informs her, "It's not a game — it's a way of life. Think of those little metal kids growing up on little metal farms."

"Slow Pitch" (Season 2)

Makes the list for the name of the gang's beer-league ball team — the Corner Gas Guzzlers — and the game they make out of hiding their open alcohol from Karen and Davis, since they don't want the two cops to issue citations for drinking in public. It turns out the cops are fully aware of the drinking and don't care, but appreciate their friends making the effort.

"I Love Lacey" (Season 1)

Better known as The One Where They Don't Go To The Grey Cup. A series of flashbacks relate how the gang from Dog River had tickets to attend the CFL championship game, which is being played in Regina. A series of unfortunate events conspire to keep Emma and Wanda, Brent and Lacey, Hank and Oscar and Karen and Davis from making it to Taylor Field. However, none of them have ever let on to the others that they missed the game — or questioned why it was 20 Celsius and sunny on a late-November Grey Cup Sunday in Saskatchewan.

And look at the way they invert the everyman fantasy of making time with a beautiful girl while wearing a shirt supporting your favourite football team:


Anonymous said...

Sorry, but Corner Gas has always left me completely cold.

CTV kept it on schedule long after it had ceased to be even mildly funny in order to appease the blue-rinse set who were its main fanbase and the minions at the CRTC. The ratings are way, way down and despite the cheerleading from CTVglobemedia, the show never took off outside Canada, even with a sharp reduction in its Canadian content.

So long Brent...I'll look forward to seeing you and the missus on stage at Casino Rama in a few years.

Amrit Ahluwalia said...

This list made me so happy. I love Corner Gas, and I'm sad to see it go.

Small town humour is some pretty fantastic stuff, especially when you can compare it to life experience, which is probably what's missing for a lot of people who don't like the show.

The same can be said for King of the Hill.

At any rate, I'm going to miss Corner Gas... good thing I, err, acquired every episode to keep me warm on cold winter nights.

Anonymous said...

"What's the word for someone who uses British expressions even though they aren't British?"



Go Blizzard (Yes, I attended a Blizzard game - NASL) It's SOCCER over here......

Greg said...

I never got this show at all or the humour in it. It always struck me as a watered down, Mom-and-Pop-in-Moose-Jaw effort that exemplified the cynical, half-assed approach to homegrown content CTV and the Comedy Network uses to ensure it keeps its broadcast license (that being said, it's by far the strongest effort the Comedy Network has made in terms of producing original content; did anyone at all watch Robson Arms?).

Maybe I'm just not of the sensibilities this show catered to, I don't know. It's too bad the show's ending simply on the basis of Canadian comedic actors losing a forum to show their talents -- Brent Butt has to be commended for pushing his stridently pro-Canada agenda with the show -- but in terms of the show itself? I don't know man, I can't say I'll miss it. I never got it.

I think Corner Gas means much to Canadian culture in that it's the only show produced in Canada that's in the Top 20 rated shows. Not sure what that says about English Canadian TV viewers.

Robert C. said...

Corner Gas, good riddance. That is all.

Greg said...

Forgot something: I swear, I knew Leon Robinovitch (a.k.a. Eric Peterson) was going to lose his mind at some point after arguing once too often with Chuck Tchobanian and leave Toronto's legal profession, but I never expected him to end up in a place like Dog River...

sager said...

Cha├žun son gout, but have the grace to give the show its due. If you can't say anything nice ... by the way, it takes a real "Jackass!" to use a phrase such as "stridently pro-Canadian agenda," and yes, that is a nice thing to say since the nicest thing you can do for people is tell the truth. The truth has to hurt.

Anonymous said...

And it takes a bigger jackass to admit he likes Corner Gas... ;)

sager said...

Well, that goes without saying.