Winter finally arrived in much of Canada Tuesday night. The good news is so has CBC’s trio of Tuesday night comedies.
I interviewed the casts of all three shows last month at the Winter Media launch at CBC’s downtown Toronto broadcast centre. Later this month over at brioux.tv: the podcast, you can listen as the cast members of Son of a Critch and Run the Burbs — both back for third seasons — and the new comedy One More Time sit for round-table (well, rectangular actually) interviews.
Son of a Critch returns first on Tuesdays following lead-in This Hour Has 22 Minutes. The first thing viewers will notice is that young Benjamin Ainsworth has shot up a foot or so. The lad, now 15, is taller than the guy playing his dad as well as this reporter.
A growth spurt can often be an awkward phase for family sitcoms when the cute young toddler is suddenly shaving and driving to work. That season when Jerry Mathers looked ready to ship off to Vietnam was not a happy one way back on Leave it to Beaver. Even Malcolm on Malcolm in the Middle (Frankie Muniz) seemed a little sad as he started to look middle-aged.
Critch explained, however, that his show, which is based on his own family life growing up in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in the mid-’80s, will lean into the main character’s teen years. All that yucky stuff with girls and stuff, bring it on.
The other thing viewers will see more of in 2024 is fantasy sequences. In Tuesday’s opener, we see Mark in a Hawaiian shirt singing to The Beach Boys “Kokomo.”
“In the dream,” narrates grown-up Critch, “I got the girls. In reality, I had to turn up the sound to drown out the sound of my own bones growing.”
Another fantasy scene occurs next Tuesday, Jan. 16, in the second episode of the third season. Look for young Mark in the Captain’s chair as he pilots the Star Ship Enterprise. A very faithful set was re-created, as Critch tipped me last month, by production designer Mark Steel. Steel, who previously helped design the mammoth Star Trek: Discovery set in Toronto, studied the original, 1966-69 Star Trek flight deck and had it rebuilt at the St. John’s studio where Son of a Critch is shot.
I’ll have more on that from Steel himself next Monday on the next episode of brioux.tv: the podcast.
Attention to detail is already a hallmark of this series, which continues to impress. Enjoy new episodes through to the NHL playoff start in April.
The new series One More Time follows on Tuesdays. It stars standup comedian D.J. Demers, who in real life is a successful stand-up comedian (he was on Conan three times) who is hard of hearing. Here he plays the manager of a Play it Again Sports-like store where he’s kind of the calm, sane centre of a cast of misfit employees. They seem just like the folks who work the real Play if Again stores in Brampton, crossed with the record store goofballs who made up John Cusack’s nerdy staffers in the 2000 movie “High Fidelity.”
Demers is very likeable and easy to root for. Of the others, Geri Hall — she who teams with Gary Pearson in the stage comedy “Middle Raged” (coming to Brampton Feb. 1 and Toronto in April) — brings an eccentric edge as a by-the-books assistant manager.
One who draws plenty of laughs in the pilot is Seran Sathiyaseelan as eager, young part-timer Keeran. He was the last cast, Demers told me, and has never done any TV acting before. If anything, his youth and inexperience fit perfectly with the part, so if you meet him, don’t tell him he’s killing it Tuesdays on CBC — we don’t want this to get to his head and screw things up.
The other actors playing store employees are also well cast: Daniel Beirne (Workin’ Moms) as store slacker Wayne; Elise Bauman (Workin’ Moms) as fit and frisky Jen; and Dayton Sinkia (Letterkenny) as security guard Chris. Jessie Gabe (Workin’ Moms; Mr. d) serves as showrunner.
At 9:30 is the season three premiere of Andrew Phung’s Run the Burbs. The episode finds the Phams hosting a garage sale on their front lawn. It’s a relatable premise and helps ground this series which can sometimes hop around a tad too much in tone. Former 22 Minutes desker Gavin Crawford guests as a weasel-y neighbour and there is some intrigue about parents paying bribes to get their kids in the right this and that.
As with Critch, the kids on this series — Zoria Wong and Roman Pesino — are growing up and getting more to do. Rahkee Morzaria, who plays wife and mother Camille Pham, will butt heads plenty this season with her dad Ramesh (Ali Hassan), who has temporarily moved in with the Phams.
Phung assures me that Kardinal Offishall will return this season as, well, Kardinal Offishall.
More on this series and the others as the podcast episodes get scheduled later this month. All three shows are available to stream on demand on CBC Gem. Son of a Critch and Run the Burbs will both also be returning to The CW stateside.