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HTF REVIEW: Corner Gas - Season One

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#1 of 11 Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

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Posted November 15 2004 - 08:48 AM

Posted Image


CORNER GAS
SEASON ONE






Distributor: VSC (Video Services Corp.)
Air Date: 2004

U.S. Rating: NR
Canadian Rating: NR

Total Disc Length: 290 minutes
Genre: Comedy

Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1 full screen
Colour/B&W: Colour

Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: None
Closed Captioned: Yes
SLP: CDN $34.99





Release Date: NOW



Show Rating: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Starring: Brent Butt (Brent LeRoy), Gabrielle Miller (Lacey Burrows), Eric Peterson (Oscar LeRoy), Janet Write (Emma LeRoy), Fred Ewanuick (Hank Yarbo), Lorne Cardinal (Officer Davis Quinton, Tara Spencer-Nairn (Officer Karen Pelly), Nancy Robertson (Wanda Dollard)


Forty kilometers from nowhere and way beyond normal.



I admit I do watch more movies than I do of television shows. I think good TV shows can be such a tease; when I begin to watch a 30-minute episode, it’s over as soon as I’ve settled into it and have to wait a week before I can watch the next!

Thankfully DVD has eliminated that frustration. These commercial-less half-hour episodes are now at their real running time of about 22 minutes, plus I no longer have to wait for the next week to watch the next installment. I can select any episode I want within that season!

Television on DVD is nothing new, so why am I telling you what you already know? I want to emphasize to you that Corner Gas is one awesome and hilarious comedy. Never heard of it? Now you have.

What makes this show so great? First of all, it takes place around a gas station called Corner Gas in the dry and barren plains of the prairie province of Saskatchewan, Canada. In the fictional town of Dog River, there is nothing exciting around this station that sits beside The Ruby café. Both provide a one-stop fill-up for both food and gas for the next forty kilometres in all directions. For the locals, it’s the center point of all action, or rather inaction. There is nothing going on except gossip of local business, and outsiders cannot be trusted. What’s better to do in life than to live with sarcasm on a day-to-day basis? Besides…there’s nothing else to do.

All of the characters in this show resemble at least someone we know. Immediately, from the very first episode, it’s easy to warm up to all of the characters in a likable fashion. Brent LeRoy, the owner of Corner Gas, has a dry sarcastic humour that never let up on the laughs. His eccentric father Oscar (who steals the show) provides comic relief as soon as he enters on screen. His crazy antics are kept in check by his sensible wife Emma, and the three of them have to cope with their young and not-so-bright friend Hank. What better is it to have two cops playing their stereotypical donut eating coffee-for-free roles and who literally are the police force in this small town?

Last but not least, Lacy is the very pretty brunette outsider from the big city of Toronto and has come to live in this town in the middle of nowhere. She’s now operating The Ruby café after the previous owner, her aunt Ruby, passed away. Along with the Corner Gas clerk Wanda, this cast makes up the main characters of Corner Gas. They all are excellent in their roles and makes me want to watch episode after episode…which brings me back to the idea of television on DVD. As soon as you watch the first episode on DVD, you’ll want to watch the next – and you can do just that! No wonder this season was the most watched television series in Canada. If you want to catch season two, you can do it on Tuesday on CTV at 8.00pm ET or The Comedy Network, Saturdays at 8pm ET.

All thirteen episodes are spread on two discs in a keep case. The season comes with an insert modeled like The Ruby café’s menu. Inside it there is a listing of episodes and synopsis, the cast, as well as a list of DVD special features. On the back of the menu, there is a great list of ”You know you’re in Saskatchewan when…” jokes that are funny to read as an outsider and probably even funnier if you live in that ultra-flat prairie province.


Episodes for season one includes:

Disc One
[*] Ruby Reborn[*] Tax Man[*] Pilates Twist[*] Oh Baby![*] Grad 68[*] World’s Biggest Thing[*] All My Ex’s Live in Toronto

Disc Two
[*] Cousin Carl[*] Cell Phone[*] Comedy Night[*] Hook, Line and Sinker[*] Face Off[*] I Love Lacey


VIDEO QUALITY Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

The video quality of these episodes looks very good. The first episode probably looks the best of all of them, while others have a slightly softer appearance. There is nothing distracting on this DVD that isn’t source related since edge enhancement, ghosting, compression artefacts, etc, aren’t noticeable. Flesh tones and colours look accurate and unbiased, and details in close-ups as well as objects in the distance are very good. Overall, a great job at bringing the video to DVD.


AUDIO QUALITY Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

I am more impressed with the audio design for this television series. For a television comedy series, there are a lot of directional effects in the left and right front channels. Even though it is a dialogue-driven series, sounds of the environment is always in the background. Room noise, restaurant noise, and even the quiet whispering winds of the prairies, the chirping of birds and sounds of prairie bugs can be heard ever so quietly in all five channels. The outdoor scenes provide great ambience for those dry sarcastic days at Corner Gas. Best of all, it’s available in both a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound.


SPECIAL FEATURES Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Audio commentaries are included on episode one (with Brent Butt and executive producer/director David Storey), episode two (with Brent Butt and executive producer/producer Virginia Thompson) and episode ten (with Brent Butt and supervising producer/director Mark Farrell). They talk about the episode accompanying the commentary as well as other production information.

A seventeen minute behind the scenes featurette is on disc two and features on-set interviews with cast and crew members. The featurette isn’t that exciting, but they do try to add some gags in it to keep it funny. A blooper reel is included and has seven clips each around twenty seconds. The video quality is poor and seems to be taken from compressed files on a computer at VGA resolution. Also included are the show’s promos; each are thirty-seconds represents a funny TV spot, one for each main character. Lastly there is cast biographies and DVD-ROM content (not reviewed).


IN THE END…

What can I say other than go fill up your DVD shelf with Corner Gas. I know you won’t be disappointed with this series and I will be sure to catch the newest episodes on CTV. The DVD looks and sounds great plus it’s a hoot to watch. You’ll be laughing all the way to Dog River. Recommended!

Michael Osadciw
04.11.15
Warner Bros. Blu-ray Reviewer
Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment Blu-ray Reviewer

THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator
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#2 of 11 Andrew Stoakley

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Posted November 15 2004 - 11:20 AM

Michael,

What a great review of a great Canadian comedy success!! For those who are not familiar with Canadian sitcoms, our record is, er, uh... Mosquito Lake, anyone??

The nicest thing about the audio for this series is the lack of a laugh track. Following in great TV show traditions as Larry Sanders, The Newsroom and SportsNight, the viewer isn't instructed to laugh like a trained seal at the mere sounds of canned laughter, but is allowed to laugh out loud freely when the need arises. Believe me when I tell you, you will - a lot!!

I think the strongest part of the show is the writing. I work in the TV industry in Toronto and have had the pleasure of working with the three principles of the show Brent Butt on Comics, Mark Farrell on The Newsroom and Comics and the director David Story on a number of projects. These guys are funny and they have been allowed to tell funny stories about quirky people in small town Canada - which is funny in and of itself.

Anyway, great review Mike, couldn't agree with you more. I strongly advise everyone to pick this DVD up!!!

Cheers,
Andrew Stoakley
"Remember kids - no one cares about audio until they can't hear it."

 

 

#3 of 11 JoshuaB.

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Posted November 15 2004 - 12:01 PM

Thanks for the review, Michael--we've got to alert our American friends to the treasures we have up here (I've already hooked my American friends on Trailer Park Boys)! I haven't bought the DVD set yet, but I'm sure going to! I've always known that Canadian TV could produce funny non-sketch comedies (I'm a big fan of the aforementioned Newsroom, Made in Canada, Trailer Park Boys and Twitch City), so it's great to see Corner Gas as a bonafide ratings hit for CTV and a natural for DVD. I haven't seen every episode, but the episodes I've seen are quite good! Yes, the humour does appeal to non-Saskies, but us true-born Saskies will really dig the inside jokes!

Considering Butt's love of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, I'm surprised there hasn't been an episode centered around our proud (but sadly underachieving football team Posted Image )--maybe Butt could get a cameo out of Paul McCallum! Posted Image

Looking forward to a season 2 set next year!

#4 of 11 Gord Lacey

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Posted November 15 2004 - 01:56 PM

Quote:
For those who are not familiar with Canadian sitcoms, our record is, er, uh... Mosquito Lake, anyone??


It's actually a single-camera comedy, which is different from a sitcom. Sitcoms are usually filmed with 3 or 4 cameras in front of a live audience. Oh, I also don't watch sitcoms anymore Posted Image

Gord
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#5 of 11 Andrew Stoakley

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Posted November 15 2004 - 10:46 PM

Quote:
It's actually a single-camera comedy, which is different from a sitcom. Sitcoms are usually filmed with 3 or 4 cameras in front of a live audience. Oh, I also don't watch sitcoms anymore


Hey Gord,

Sitcoms can be anything from single camera shoots to multi-camera shoots. MASH was a sticom that used a single-camera to film with as well as The Newsroom (I was a camera and video assist on that show). The key to sitcoms is a continuation of the same characters in a show over a period of a season... or something like that Posted Image

Brainy Encyclopedia has a great history on the sitcom.. check it out at http://www.brainyenc....on_comedy.html

All in all, our history of bad comedies have been overshadowed by our good comedies - some which have been mentioned in above posts.

Cheers,
Andrew
"Remember kids - no one cares about audio until they can't hear it."

 

 

#6 of 11 Gord Lacey

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Posted November 16 2004 - 01:14 AM

Hmm....interesting. I've always heard them described differently, like I did above. Maybe a single-camera comedy is a more specific label for a sitcom?

Gord
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#7 of 11 Andrew Stoakley

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Posted November 16 2004 - 01:51 AM

Hey Gord,

In the immortal words of one Happy Gilmore "Single camera, multi-camera, who gives a s#$%!" As long as good Canadian comedies are finally being produced on a regular basis, I'm a happy viewer Posted Image

On a side note, for those that are interested, The Newsroom is coming back for it's final run in the winter and I believe Jeremy Hotz is making an apperence in one of the last episodes.. not to sure about Mark Farrell who is the nicest person in the world.

Season 2 of Corner Gas is just as funny as the first, if not funnier. Oscar's rant about 'pant waste' had me on the floor Posted Image

Cheers,
Andrew
"Remember kids - no one cares about audio until they can't hear it."

 

 

#8 of 11 Tony Whalen

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Posted November 16 2004 - 03:03 AM

Not being a fan of Canadian programming, I only recently discovered the brilliance of "Corner Gas". No one was more surprised than I that a Canadian comedy was actually FUNNY! Posted Image I'll be picking this up! Posted Image

#9 of 11 Rick P

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Posted November 16 2004 - 05:52 AM

Now we just need the complete run of "Made in Canada".

#10 of 11 JasonJason

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Posted November 17 2004 - 03:40 AM

Does anyone know - is this available in the states? Or, is it a Canada only release. I've been hearing great things, and would like to check it out.

#11 of 11 Andrew Stoakley

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Posted November 17 2004 - 04:18 AM

Hey Jason,

As far as I know, Corner Gas is only on network TV in Canada on both the CTV network and Comedy Channel. I don't believe they have sold the series to any Amercian networks. You can order the series from Amazon.ca for $27 Cdn. Not too shabby Posted Image

Cheers,
Andrew
"Remember kids - no one cares about audio until they can't hear it."