Last year I finished watching the full four seasons of Due South. Beginning to end. It was a pleasure to be in such fine company as the characters portrayed.
To begin with, Due South has is almost unique in all the western shows I have seen. For example, the Japanese stuff I watch are mostly single-season series. Some are based on longer written or serialized works and thus are abridged or just contain the first few books, but for a good number they are simply created as one-season shows. They’ll either be three months, six months, or a year. Some are longer. And very rarely they’ll continue on.
In the western world it is different. Most shows that get put on the air in the western world are made with serialization in mind, to form a series and a continued viewership.
What does this have to do with Due South? Simply put, it is one of the few western shows I’ve seen that wasn’t cancelled, nor was it because the course of the plot had run out. In fact, it’s quite interesting how Due South came about as a series.
It was a made-for-tv movie. And then it gathered fans, who asked for more, and so a series was created. It ran. And then when that series was over, people still wanted more. And so they made more. Due South was never cancelled. It was only expanded until it had reached four seasons. That in itself is astounding. Just that background adds something to the intrigue of it. But that story about it’s expansion is mostly a byproduct of the actual material.
Due South concerns Benton Fraser, a Canadian mountie. He first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father… and if you’ve seen the show you’ll know the next few lines. It’s repeated often, the statement about how he stayed on with the consulate, a liaison and helper for the Chicago PD. It becomes a running joke throughout the series. As the seasons go on and the characters change, that line appears again and again.
Due South is so enjoyable because of that line. Not because it is said over and over. But because of the inside joke it symbolizes. The entire show is one big joke. Benton is superhuman at times, and by the final season the writers simply go with it, letting their imagination run wild at times, but never to an excessive degree. By that I mean there will only be one or two completely impossible events happen per episode, rather than other shows that may harp on it too much.
They never overdose you on the superhuman. Certainly, some of the doses are stronger, and played for comedic effect, but the show plays most of its jokes quite straight. Paul Gross, the actor who plays Fraser, and who later directs the latter seasons, does a fantastic job of doing absolutely fantastic things with the straightest face on his character. Much of that is his character’s insane politeness.
Let us speak of politeness. And the running jokes. Benton Fraser, a Canadian, is very polite. And courteous. And a gentleman. And nearly perfect, as perfect could be. That too, is a joke. One played by the show in very interesting ways. Fraser will politely ask a group of people pointing guns at him to drop their weapons because their firearms may be illegal. He’ll hold doors open for everyone. He is courteous to all.
So when someone doesn’t believe him, or the things he’s saying, his partner looks at the guy and says “He’s Canadian,” suddenly the person has this look of understanding, knows that Fraser is telling the truth, and immediately accepts it. And thus the plot for that episode continues.
These are just a couple examples, but they stand out to me. It’s hard to quantify their meanings in words, and I also don’t wish to spoil anything. For if there is a show worth watching, it is Due South. It’s a buddy-cop flick, with a touch of Superman, a dash of straight-laced comedy, and all-around feel-good watching.
There’s a lack of watchable stuff that plays itself so well that you feel good at the end of each episode. That you watch because you know it’ll be good time and again. Due South fills that gap. No wonder it wasn’t cancelled. The world needed more of it.