Tag Archives: Hiccups

Season Finale: Dan for Mayor – “The Return of Wheel-o”

“The Return of Wheel-o”

June 28th, 2010

While it may not be the best comedy on television, I’d argue that Dan for Mayor makes a strong case for being one of the most confident. While some shows spend their first seasons in a state of becoming, the series seemed to spring fully formed from the minds of Mark Farrell, Paul Mather and Kevin White – the initial premise had potential which played out throughout the season, and from the beginning it was intertwined with the interpersonal relationships which make the series more than a clever premise. The notion of a lowly bartender running for Mayor as a way to impress his ex-girlfriend offers plenty of potential for humour, but the series has evolved into something much more than that: “The Return of Wheel-o” reflects a season which didn’t shy away from plot development, constantly changing the stakes of the race to the point where the finale gives Dan everything he wanted only to twist once more.

And yet, for a show which refused to rely on stability to tell its stories, Dan for Mayor has been remarkably consistent. It’s an extraordinarily clever show, but it never felt like it became too clever for its own good, its material always working in tandem with its cast in order to present a far more cohesive world than seems possible when presenting three different campaigns along with a number of personal lives. It never seemed like the show struggled under the weight of this challenge, capable from the beginning of managing both political satire and character development without breaking a sweat, and so I figure I should spend some time discussing what was a really enjoyable season of television.

Which, you know, 99% of you haven’t seen.

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Series Premieres: CTV’s Hiccups and Dan for Mayor

Personally, Corner Gas had overstayed its welcome when Brent Butt chose to end its run after its sixth season, but the Canadian public didn’t feel the same way: the show was still a success to the point where CTV would have gladly rode the train to Dog River for as long as possible even if it meant diminished returns (or, for me, more diminished returns). I understood Butt’s decision at the time, in terms of being able to end the show on his terms, but I didn’t particularly care about his decision since I wasn’t, after all, watching the show.

But with the arrival of Hiccups and Dan for Mayor, two new CTV comedies that debuted to impressive numbers on Monday, I have come to see the logic behind his decision. CTV has effectively gotten two shows out of one, with Butt creating (and starring in) Hiccups featuring fellow Corner Gas alum (and wife) Nancy Robertson, and Fred Ewanuick taking on the title role in Dan for Mayor as a follow-up to his role as Hank on Butt’s former show. And as someone who had lost my taste for Corner Gas (while maintaining my respect for the show’s starting point, considering I wrote a thesis chapter about it), it’s nice to see the talented people involved bringing two new series to the table. Butt’s decision kept CTV from leaning on a crutch for too long, and instead pushed them to introduce two new series that can only help the state of original Canadian programming.

I don’t necessarily want to pit the shows against each other, but I don’t know if I have enough to say about either to justify separate posts, so I’ll say this much: I really like Dan for Mayor, and I think that Hiccups is pleasant enough.

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The Olympic Myth: NBC’s Failure Overshadows Parenthood’s Potential Success

The Olympic Myth

March 3rd, 2010

I really should have written this post in advance so I could post it as soon as the headlines started to hit, but alas I held out hope that perhaps we could disconnect ourselves from that particular response to solid, but unspectacular, ratings for NBC’s Parenthood.

This myth that the Olympics are some sort of magical promotional tool is not without some merit, in that NBC used a lot of their airtime with a huge captive audience in order to promote the arrival of this new series, but the intense expectation it places on a show is honestly not worth the trouble. The Olympics promotion is not only supposed to increase a show’s chances at success, but it is also expected to create an audience which may not actually exist, whitewashing any of the other problems that the show might face (whether it be timeslot competition, the lack of a compatible lead-in, etc.).

It’s a situation where you have to wonder: would the show have been better off debuting to lower numbers without the hype, just so that the show might have been seen as a mild disappointment instead of another failure of NBC’s network strategy?

Since Josef Adalain has already posted an analysis of the various potential scenarios for Parenthood at The Wrap, I’m going to add this little wrinkle to the mix: in Canada, it “worked.” CTV’s new comedy series Hiccups and Dan for Mayor debuted to huge numbers (1.9 Million viewers) on Monday night after heavy Olympics promotion, which could be seen as proof that with the right show Olympics promotion can result in big numbers.

Except that people tend to focus on the “Olympic Promotion” rather than “Right Show” part of that equation.

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