New York Times: How Much Watching Time Do You Have This Weekend?
How Much Watching Time Do You Have This Weekend?
By Margaret Lyons, New York Times
Dec. 14, 2018
No matter how much free time you have this weekend, we have TV recommendations for you. Come back every Friday for new suggestions on what to watch.
… Many Hours, and Take Me to Canada
When to watch: Now, on Amazon.
“Corner Gas” is one of the most popular shows in Canadian history, a single-camera, low-concept comedy set in the small town of Dog River, Saskatchewan. Brent Butt created and stars in the show as Brent, the owner of the local gas station and convenience store. “Gas” debuted in 2004, so it can feel a little bit slow by contemporary standards. But it’s a richly imagined world with well-defined characters and an easy sense of flow and structure. It is also the most Canadian show I have ever seen, and that’s saying something.
Don McCutcheon’s varied and extensive experience in direction encompasses every genre. He has worked on drama with HBO (“Dear America”) and has done groundbreaking comedy adventure with BBC (“Ace Lightening”), for which he was nominated for the Directors Guild Outstanding Team Achievement in a Television Series – Family Award.
He has worked on episodes of Corner Gas, Billable Hours, and “Till Death Do us Part” starring John Waters.
Don is developing a feature entitled John Lennon Would Never Do That To a Girl, based on the novel 13 together with the Cannes Film Festival award-winning writer John C. Richards (“Nurse Betty”).
Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Jeff Beesley is one of Canada’s most unique filmmakers. Hailing from Moose Jaw, Jeff was part of the Corner Gas team from Season 2-6. Since then, he has directed 14 episodes of the smash-hit comedy.
The rest of his career goes something like this: After graduating from film school he began shooting his first professional film called Percy, Me and Bobby McGee (1996). It won the best documentary award at the 1996 Saskatchewan Showcase Awards, as well as a Golden Sheaf Award at the 1997 Yorkton Film Festival, and three National Media Excellence Awards.
Other credits include the documentary The Last Word From Moose Jaw (1997) and his much-acclaimed feature Sparkle which debuted at the Montreal World Film Festival. Jeff was also the Associate Producer on Skipped Parts (1999), produced by Trimark Pictures. Jeff also directed Dolan’s Cadillac (2009), a feature film based on the Stephen King novel and starring Christian Slater, Emmanuelle Vaugier and Wes Bentley.
He also has worked as a director on “Little Mosque on the Prairie,” “Borderline Normal,” “Everybody’s Doing It,” “The Risen,” and “Try to Remember.” Jeff also has directed many episodes of the Gemini-award winning dramatic youth series “renegadepress.com.”
Robert de Lint
Robert de Lint is the co-founder of Vérité Films and is an award-winning director, producer and TV show creator. He’s been a key creative contributor (as a director, writer or creative producer) in over 250 episodes of prime time television.
Robert was executive producer, co-creator and key director of “InSecurity,” a 23-part narrative comedy series on CBC. He co-created and executive produced the one-hour drama pilot “The Dealership” for Global staring Tricia Helfer, Patrick Adams and William Devane.
Robert directed over 20 episodes of Corner Gas and won a Canadian Comedy Award, a DGC Award and was nominated for a Gemini Award for his work on this series. Robert was creative producer and second unit director on the award-winning Corner Gas: The Movie — the highest rated Canadian scripted program in the 2014/15 season.
Prior to Corner Gas, Robert was co-showrunner of the 52-part youth dramatic series “renegadepress.com” and the 65-part children’s series “Incredible Story Studio.” On both series, Robert was key director and won multiple awards for his contributions.
Prior to co-founding Vérité Films (with his partner Virginia Thompson), Robert worked as a senior picture editor on a host of award-winning series, feature length films and documentaries in Toronto. Recently, Robert has returned to editing passion projects and is currently working on CBC’s “Kim’s Convenience.”
Robert got his start in the industry on the “Degrassi” franchise.
Robert is a member of the Director’s Guild of Canada and the Writer’s Guild of Canada.
Brent Butt was born and raised in the small farming community of Tisdale, Saskatchewan (population 3000). He discovered early that being funny was a good way to get attention. He decided he was going to become a comedian when he was 12 and he watched a stand-up comic on television.
Brent honed his comedy in school, and at the age of 20, he moved to Saskatoon to pursue a career in stand-up. Within months of his first amateur night appearance, he was offered a tour on the road. After a year, he was headlining top clubs in Toronto. Within four years, he began touring internationally and was showcased in his own gala performance at the world’s largest international comedy festival – Montreal’s Just For Laughs – where he became a regular.
Brent appeared on numerous national and international television programs, including his own special “Bedtime With Brent Butt” and “Comedy Now – Funnypants,” earning a Gemini-nomination.
He was named “Best Male Stand-Up in Canada” at the 2001 Canadian Comedy Awards and was subsequently selected to represent his country on the World Comedy Tour in Australia. He followed that by hosting the Just For Laughs Asian Tour in Singapore. His invitation to appear on “All-Star Comedy Homecoming,” the 50th anniversary special for a major Canadian network, secured his reputation as one of the funniest people in the country, as he performed alongside the most noted Canadian comedians of the past five decades.
Over the years, Brent, who claims he never really went after an acting career, landed bit parts in Duets, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, the Bob Saget directed TV movie Becoming Dick, and episodes of “The Kids in the Hall,” “The X-Files” and “Millennium.”
He began cooking up his own series, Corner Gas, set in the tiny town of Dog River with an odd bunch of archetypal characters. Brent not only starred in the series, he also wore several hats including creator, writer, showrunner, executive producer and director of several episodes. The series premiered January 22, 2004, on CTV and became a Canadian icon with unprecedented ratings and numerous accolades. It went on to become Canada’s #1 comedy, broadcast in over 26 countries including the US, and aired for six seasons.
Corner Gas was nominated for a 2004 International Emmy Award, surviving three rounds of preliminary judging from over 500 judges in 38 countries. The series won numerous awards, including Gemini Awards, Canadian Comedy Awards, Director’s Guild of Canada Awards and Writers Guild of Canada Awards.
In 2005, Brent followed in the footsteps of Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain… not as a singer, but as host of the 2005 Juno Awards.
In 2007, Brent, along with his Corner Gas co-stars, took home the Gemini for best Ensemble Performance in a Comedy Program or Series. In 2008, he was honoured to join the ranks of Bob Newhart, John Cleese, John Candy and others when he received The Comedy Network Sir Peter Ustinov Award at The World Television Festival in Banff.
In 2010, Brent created another sitcom for TV called “Hiccups,” starring himself and Nancy Robertson. They made 26 episodes over two seasons, winning multiple Leo awards.
In 2013, Brent was honoured with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to community and country. Later that same year, he made the transition to feature films and wrote and starred in his first feature, No Clue.
In 2014, Corner Gas: The Movie, written by Brent, Andrew Carr and Andrew Wreggitt, directed by David Storey, and starring the entire original cast, was shot in Saskatchewan. The landmark feature film rolled out via a national multi-platform event in December of that year, opening with an exclusive Cineplex Front Row Centre Events theatrical debut, followed by premieres on The Movie Network, CTV, and The Comedy Network. It was further complemented by a special collector’s edition DVD release.
In 2018, Corner Gas Animated, an all-new animated version of the iconic comedy franchise re-imagined by Brent, is to premiere on The Comedy Network.
Brent has made his home in Vancouver for the last 20 years and continues to tour the country with his unique brand of stand-up comedy, performing in theatres and as a much sought-after corporate entertainer.
David Storey spent 2014 directing and producing the Canadian Screen Award-winning Corner Gas: The Movie. Critics raved and the box office was incredible. Nearly 60,000 movie-goers, more than 7 million TV viewers, 60,000 Blu-rays/DVDs shipped and tens of millions of social media impressions made the Storey-directed Corner Gas: The Movie a ground breaking, multi screen hit. “It’s terrific entertainment, often hilarious,” John Doyle, The Globe and Mail.
After a colourful and varied career through the 70s and 80s that included stints as an actor, musician and Assistant Director, David began directing many CMVA-winning and Juno-nominated music videos. These included “Life Is a Highway” for Tom Cochrane, “Margo’s Got the Cargo” for Stompin’ Tom Connors, as well as hour-long specials for artists such as Anne Murray, Corey Hart, The Rankin family and Rita MacNeil.
These endeavours brought David to the attention of the CBC brass, who invited him to direct a new series called “Comics.” Here, he worked with some of Canada’s best and brightest funny men – including Brent Butt, Ron James and Mark Farrell. From these relationships, David helped pitch and create many successful shows for a number of networks. He directed and, with Ron James, created the pilot for “Blackfly”, a single camera, film-style comedy for the Global Network. He directed the multi-camera, laugh track-driven “The Seán Cullen Show” for the CBC. But the granddaddy of them all was the family friendly, film style, hit comedy Corner Gas which he executive produced and directed.
David and Brent Butt pitched Corner Gas to the CTV network thinking that if they were lucky, they would get one summer’s work and a few good sod busters (Saskatchewan beer). Six groundbreaking seasons, 107 episodes and many rave reviews later, Corner Gas could be the defining Canadian comedy of a generation. Along with an average audience share of 1.52 million, the series was nominated for an International Emmy in 2004, and has won 6 Gemini, 5 Leo, 6 Canadian Comedy, 4 Directors Guild and 3 Writers Guild Awards to date. The show has been sold to markets across Europe, Australia, the Middle East and the USA. Storey directed the final episode, which garnered a 3.02 million audience share, setting a record for a Canadian scripted show.
Since the end of Corner Gas, David has been busy as Co-Executive Producer on Keep Your Head Up Kid: The Don Cherry Story, a miniseries for the CBC as well as executive producing and directing the first two seasons of “Hiccups”, a Brent Butt-created series for CTV. David is currently Executive Producing and Voice Directing on Corner Gas Animated, which will debut on The Comedy Network in 2018.