Check It Out: SCHITT’S CREEK

Courtesy CBC/POP

Look at this! We’re digging this feature up from the mothballs just in time for some new midseason TV!

Yes, we’re 12.

And yes, the title of this week’s show makes us giggle even though we’re much too old to be swayed by such juvenile  antics.

We’re hoping you’ll be just as swayed, too. Here’s what Nels has to say about the newest sitcom from the Great White North debuting tonight on POP TV. (What?!)

Show: Schitt’s Creek
Original Premiere Date: February 11, 2015 — that’s tonight! (January 13, 2015 in Canada)
Status: Season 1 premieres tonight; already renewed for a second season  by CBC in Canada.
Time Slot: Wednesdays at 10pm on POP TV (Formerly TV Guide Network)

If there’s one thing lacking on television, it’s fish-out-of-water stories, right?

Okay, that’s a lie, but just because the formula has been played over and over again doesn’t mean it can’t still make us laugh.

Schitt’s Creek is the newest entrant in that race, starring Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara (of SCTV fame) as a disgustingly wealthy couple forced to move to the small town they bought on a lark years ago after they lose all their money. (It’s the one asset not even the Revenue Service cares about.) Along for the ride are their two obnoxiously spoiled adult children, who wouldn’t be able to manage their own lives if they came wrapped in Louis Vuitton.

Of course, most of the humor lies in the contrast between the champagne-taste Roses and the beer-budget-and-like-it local residents of Schitt’s Creek. Chris Elliott rounds out the “hey it’s that guy!” cast as the zany mayor, intent on making the Roses pay for their purchase, and neglect, of the town. It’s not novel by any means, but it’s also true that there is satisfaction in watching people get their comeuppance — and then try to adapt to their new surroundings.

I have to admit that when this show was first promoted, I was expecting more of a Christopher Guest-type vibe, given that Levy and O’Hara are frequent collaborators of his. (Which makes no sense in retrospect, because Guest is not involved at all in this production.) While O’Hara plays up Moira Rose’s eccentricity wonderfully, as a former soap star turned wannabe Real Housewife and boozehound, it is interesting that Levy’s Johnny is essentially the straight man to his extravagant family. I figured he’d be just as out-of-touch as his wife and kids, but he’s keenly aware of their status in their new stomping grounds, and at times is embarrassed by their obliviousness. Yet, it’s his indulgence that has landed them in this predicament, so he’s not blameless at all, either.  It’s the interaction between husband and wife that amused me the most, thanks in large part to the caliber of the actors, and as of the first few episodes, they’ve been given the most to do.

Sure, everyone is kind of a caricature this early on. On top of corporate swindler Johnny and living-in-the-past Moira, there’s hipster-doofus son David (Levy’s real-life son Daniel, probably best known to US audiences as host of MTV’s The After Show) and celebutante daughter Alexis (Annie Murphy). They’re painted in broad strokes, as are the kooky locals — such as Elliott’s Roland Schitt as the disgruntled mayor or Jennifer Robertson as his long-suffering wife — but that serves to highlight the ridiculousness of their lifestyles even more starkly against their surroundings. This isn’t a serious character study meant to delve into the human psyche: it’s a farcical romp in which we see people thrown out of their element and fail at it with hilarious results. Which is not to say that Schitt’s Creek can’t develop its characters, because there is always room for that, but it is definitely putting the “situational” in situational comedy.

Frankly, any series that is going to put O’Hara and Levy together on-screen gets my seal of approval, and Schitt’s Creek doesn’t disappoint on that front. It’s not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a great platform to watch such skilled actors go wild with a script. Which is especially impressive given that it is a Canadian import — a country that isn’t exactly known as a sitcom-churning hotspot, despite its deep well of comedians.

If single-camera comedies are your bag, then Schitt’s Creek is worth a look. Laugh at the Roses in their extravagance while sharing motel rooms, or at Roland Schitt’s determination to make them pay, or even at jaded motel receptionist Stevie (Emily Hampshire) trying to handle their off-the-wall requests. Yes, the concept can very well get tired quickly, which is a concern, but at this point, I’m willing to overlook it to see how the cast gels together, and am looking forward to seeing the chemistry develop. There’s nothing revolutionary in the tale, but there’s still room for some entertaining brain candy on the schedule, and this show fills that gap handedly.

The wind isn’t so mighty here, yet there’s no mistaking the smell of hijinks in the air when these stars get together.

 

Nels
Nels knew how to operate a TV remote control before she knew how to talk. As a result, she has spent an inordinate amount of time pretending she actually lives on a soundstage. When she isn’t watching whichever show is currently capturing her heart, she is writing about how said show is currently capturing her heart. She loves pie.

One Response to Check It Out: SCHITT’S CREEK

  1. […] on ABC, Bitten and Lost Girl are cornering the supernatural cable cult favo(u)rite markets, and Schitt’s Creek highlights that Canadians can make fish-out-of-water sitcoms just as funny as anything in America. […]

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