Creator, producer, writer and star Brent Butt announced today that he is pulling the plug on Canada’s top-rated comedy at the end of next season, the series’s sixth. Work on the final 19 episodes will commence May 15 in Rouleau (not fictional Dog River), Saskatchewan.
“It’s a very difficult decision, but the right decision, and one I felt I had to make,” Brent Butt said in today’s release. “When I told CTV about my decision, they made it clear that they were keen to do more seasons. They didn’t want it to end yet. But for the good of the show, I wanted to exit gracefully, on top of our game,when we’re at our prime — because that’s how I want viewers to remember Corner Gas: at its very best.”
Imagine if the creators of Friends, Frasier, Murphy Brown, Will & Grace, That ’70s Show, Everybody Loves Raymond, The X-Files and too many other shows to mention had had the guts, grace and good accounting to bow out as gracefully. NBC announced this week that ER was ending next season after eight terrific seasons and eight really crappy ones. The reaction in the industry? Is that still on?
Look at the people who knew when to quit: Carl Reiner, The Dick Van Dyke Show. Jerry Seinfeld. It is a small, exclusive club.
Butt sets his show up to take one last well deserved victory lap. Corner Gas drew its usual 1.3, 1.4 million viewers a week, well ahead of any other sitcom in this country, domestic or imported. He’s got his U.S. syndication deal with Superstation WGN. He’s young enough to create another series after Gas, and CTV will partner up on what ever he’s selling.
The focus now shifts to Rick Mercer, who already has demonstrated he knows when to walk away when he folded Made In Canada after four seasons. The Rick Mercer Report is coming off its best season ever, ratings wise, and hosting that show may just be the best job in Canada. Hard to imagine Mercer might pack it in after one more season, but until today, that’s what we were all saying about Brent Butt.