Friday, January 12th, 2007
I Look Like Joyce DeWitt
I’m guessing some of you were wondering why I and a number of commenters were so excited last month when it was discovered that Twitch City was unexpectedly out on DVD. This is reasonable. The show only lasted twelve episodes over two seasons and even those were broadcast two years apart, but in that time managed to establish itself, in my mind at least, as the best Canadian sitcom ever. Of course, this is not a difficult title to win since even though we produce some of the funniest actors and writers on the planet, we paradoxically produce some of the very worst television comedy around.
Created by and starring Don McKellar (Last Night), the show featured a fairly star-studded cast (again, by Canadian standards) with Molly Parker (Deadwood) and Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica) along for the ride. It’s set in Toronto’s Kensington Market and documents the life of agoraphobic TV addict Curtis (McKellar), his co-dependent roommate/girlfriend Hope (Parker) and his convenience store clerk/college buddy Newbie (Rennie). Season one is more rooted to the plotline of Curtis’ roommate (and Hope’s boyfriend at the time) being jailed for killing a homeless man with a can of cat food and how that plays out with Curtis and Hope’s burgeoning relationship and roommate search, but season two is the real gem as it plays much faster and looser and gets positively surreal at points. I especially loved their swapping one Kid In The Hall for another (Bruce McCulloch for Mark McKinney) in the role of talk show host Rex Reilly between seasons, a move initially forced by scheduling conflicts but working perfectly in the TV-centric context of the show (shades of Darrin). Seeing Sloan guesting as white supremacists or Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Single White Female-reprising guest turn were also high points.
I never got to see all the episodes when they originally ran in 1998 and 2000, so this DVD set – which I admit I never thought I’d see – was a real treat. Bonus features are slim but the three commentaries by McKellar and some random call-in guests is suitably daffy. For example, Mark McKinney calls in and ends up commenting on an episode he’s not even in. I powered through the whole series over the holidays and I definitely enjoyed them even more than I did the first time around (the eps I had seen, anyways). Probably because I’m now at age closer to the characters in the show and can properly appreciate their level of dysfunction. I’m also particularly fond of it because it’s set in Toronto. There’s actually very few shows, decent or otherwise, that are set here – the CBC seems to prefer setting things in remote northern/prairie/maritime communities because, well, I don’t know really. But Twitch City feels like our own perfect little BBC series, brief but wonderful. The first episode is archived in three parts on YouTube – it’s good but the series gets so much better as it progresses. So worth seeing.
Chart brings word that Ongiara, the third album from Toronto’s Great Lake Swimmers will be out on March 24 via Nettwerk. In the meantime their new 12″ EP, Hands In The Dirty Ground is available at Rotate This, a bit before the formal February 7 release date. It’s limited to 500 copies so move fast if you want one – that’s a note to myself as much as anyone else. And finally, to promote both new releases, the band are touring through March and April (dates on their website) and will wrap things up April 14 with two shows at the Church Of The Redeemer in Toronto.
You may remember my incredulousness that Explosions In The Sky were playing a venue the size of the Opera House. Well it turns out they knew their business better than I – they’ve not only sold it out but added a second show on March 25. Tickets for that one are $15.00.
And holding a mini Canadian music week of their own, the double-bill of The Constantines and Jon-Rae & The River are at Lee’s Palace for two nights, March 30 and 31. Tickets are $18.50, on sale next Wednesday. Jon-Rae & The River are also playing Nathan Phillips Square on January 28 as part of the WinterCity concerts. Update: In addition, Shotgun & Jaybird are on the bill for the first night, Ladyhawk the second. Nice. Thanks to Alan for the info.
Behold – the cutest thing ever.
np – Suede / Dog Man Star