OK, not everyone will love "Schitt's Creek." It has a droll style -- sometimes very quiet, sometimes very Canadian -- that some people will ignore and some will love. I find it hilarious ... and a delight to find on a network (Pop) that, when it was the TV Guide Network, was terribly easy to ignore. Here's the story I sent to papers:
By MIKE HUGHES
It was almost 40
years ago that young Canadians started a rag-tag TV show.
limp along for six mini-seasons (under four different titles),
getting little money and huge praise. Many of its people – John
Candy, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, Martin Short – would become
movie stars; most have stayed in the TV/movie universe.
Now two enter an
unexpected place: Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara star in “Schitt's
Creek” on Pop, which used to be the TV Guide Network and used to be
The network is now a
land of reruns, reality and old movies, mostly aimed at passionate TV
fans. Brad Schwartz, the Pop programmer, admits he wasn't expecting
to have a major series this soon. Then “this dream of a show came
to us and it was a scripted comedy with talent that our audience grew
Those two people
were opposites in their “SCTV” days.
Levy was the quiet
one with droll wit. He “would spend a lot of time writing very
focused pieces that usually made a subtle point,” Ramis said in
Dave Thomas' “SCTV” (1996, McClelland and Stewart).
O'Hara was the zesty
one, sometimes showing up without sleep and creating a comedy rush.
“Other than Marty Short, no one else on the Second City stage made
me laugh so much,” Joe Flaherty said in Thomas' book. “(She had
a) twinkle in her eye and a wit that was as unpredictable as a
souls didn't share many “SCTV” sketches, O'Hara said. “We
didn't really work together as a team until the Chris Guest movies,
and then we played husband-and-wife a few times.”
They'd been in in
big-money movies – O'Hara in the “Home Alone” films, Levy in
the “American Pie” ones – and in obscure ones. Guest cast them
in at least four eccentric films, including “Best of Show.”
Then the new idea
came from Eugene's son. “I've known Danny as a baby,” O'Hara
He was born in 1983,
when “SCTV” was in its final incarnation, and performed often in
school. “I would offer my help ... and he would say, 'No, I got
it,'” Eugene recalled.
Dan went on to host
talk and comedy shows for MTV Canada. Then, he says, he “started
thinking about ... a wealthy family losing its money. I felt like
this could go in two directions, (a noisy comedy) or it could be
played very real, and that's when I thought of my dad.”
seems to be a Levy specialty. “We had never worked together,”
Eugene said. When they finally did, “it dawned on me that he is
The show starts
after the Rose family's accountant has vanished without ever paying
taxes. Soon, the Roses are stripped of everything ... except what the
government doesn't want, a deed to a town the dad bought because he
thought the name (Schitt's Creek) was funny. Now they must move
Levy and O'Hara play the parents, with Daniel as their son. Less
predictably, Daniel's sister is played by Annie Murphy; his real-life
sister Sarah plays a local waitress. Other locals are led by Chris
Elliott as Roland Schitt, the mayor.
Backed by a big
Canadian network (CBC) and a small American one (Pop), they spent two
months in a Toronto studio and a month in Goodwood, an Ontario town
of 600. They were sort of on their own.
“A lot of writers
have sold pilots,” Dan Levy said, “and they go through the system
and suddenly what comes out is not what they had intended. (But)
we've made the show that we intended to.”
This was a little
like the old days, O'Hara said. “It felt like we had great
And four decades
ago, that type of freedom created an eccentric comedy classic.
Creek,” 10 p.m. Wednesdays, Pop (formerly TV Guide Network)
-- First two
episodes air Feb. 11, rerunning at 11 p.m.; they also run at 11:30
a.m. Thursday; Friday night at midnight (technically 12 a.m.
Saturday); Saturday night at 12:30 a.m.; Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
-- On Feb. 18, those
two episodes air at 9:30 and 10:30 p.m., surrounding the third