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Corner Gas Cast Finds New Homes

CTV is hoping for a one-two punch with Hiccups and Dan for Mayor, two new Canadian sitcoms keeping most of the former Corner Gas cast off the unemployment line.

Corner Gas alums Brent Butt and Nancy Robertson star in the new CTV sitcom Hiccups.

CTV is hoping for a one-two punch with Hiccups and Dan for Mayor, two new Canadian sitcoms keeping most of the former Corner Gas cast off the unemployment line. Shot on location in Vancouver, Hiccups stars Gas alums Brent Butt and Nancy Robertson (both are also producers of this new show.) Butt plays Stan Dirko, a sad-sack life coach who could probably use a life coach of his own, while Robertson plays Millie Upton, a children’s book author with an embarrassingly public anger management problem.

While the scripts and production values for Hiccups are surprisingly sophisticated, by Canadian television standards, the supporting characters and secondary plot lines are unmemorable. Butt and Robertson (husband and wife in real life) do have great chemistry, but unfortunately, Butt retreads the same folksy everyman shtick he played in Corner Gas, and Robertson just prattles on, overacting at a rapid-fire pace. And the only big laughs-out-loud came from the closing animated sequence, hopefully a recurring feature in future episodes.

In the time slot that follows Hiccups is Dan for Mayor, starring Fred Ewanuick (Corner Gas, Robson Arms). Ewanuick plays Dan Phillips, a thirty-something slacker who waits tables at Fern’s Grill in the fictional city of Wessex, Ontario. In the first episode, when his ex announces her engagement to another man, Dan hatches a plan to run for Mayor, selling his beloved Ms. Pac-Man game to pay for his candidacy.

Like Hiccups, Dan for Mayor features competent writing and production, but is regrettably saddled with uninteresting subplots and a weak ensemble cast. The Toronto-shot Dan is also limited by its absurd premise and overly-whimsical vibe. Ewanuick lacks the charisma to lead a series, and his character is such a loser - complete with whiny voice, unshaven face and greasy hair - that audiences will find it tough to keep rooting for him week after week.

Still, in their debuts on Monday, Hiccups and Dan for Mayor drew 1.9 million viewers each for CTV, beating out both House (Global) and the season finale of The Bachelor (CityTV) in the 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. time slot. It remains to be seen, however, whether these two home-grown comedies will be able to compete with ratings stalwart Dancing with the Stars, which returns Monday, March 22.

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