After six seasons and a movie, Corner Gas canon came to an end in 2014, and fans have had a long while to come to terms with its demise — even the set in Rouleau, Sask., has been laid to rest. But years after its death, the show has come back in a zombified state: Corner Gas Animated.
At the time of writing, four episodes of the new animated series have aired, all currently available for free online via the Comedy Network’s website. Episode one centres around the town running out of gas, while episode two primarily focuses on the elusive sasquatch and a hoax put on by characters Wanda and Hank — each was disappointing in its own way.
The shift to animation was lauded for the ability to do more with fantasy elements by the show’s creator, Brent Butt. After having watched the first few episodes, I think it has more to do with the destruction of the set. The animation is fairly uninspired, and the style feels incredibly repetitive and reminiscent of shows such as Brickleberry, Big Mouth and every other adult cartoon out there right now.
Rather than providing more room for creativity, the animation stifles what made the show feel personal, because rather than watching the characters discuss their fantasies, the show just depicts them.
While this may seem counterintuitive, the conversational nature of the characters’ interactions was what made Corner Gas feel authentic. The new animated show doesn’t feel like it takes place in a small-town conversation in the same way that the live-action show did.
Something is lost in the animation. Dog River no longer feels like a place in Saskatchewan — which is true because it isn’t produced in the province anymore. The production company behind both the animated and live-action versions of Corner Gas, Vérité, has relocated from Regina to Toronto, with company officials citing the removal of the Saskatchewan film tax credit as the cause. This is somewhat poetic, as the character Lacey in the original show was treated like an outsider in the rural town because of her Toronto upbringing.
Overall, Corner Gas Animated feels disconnected from its roots and fails to bring anything new to the table, resulting in a fairly hollow experience for viewers. Nothing new comes from the animation, and the show feels like it has lost its homegrown Saskatchewan appeal.
This brings up the question of where exactly our Saskatchewan representation in Canadian media is if not on Corner Gas. With no incentives for major productions to take place on this patch of the Prairies, there’s no business sense in choosing to film in Saskatchewan, so of course much of the action is going to be elsewhere.
Everyone benefits from representation in the media — seeing people like you on TV is a very wholesome feeling — which is part of the reason the original Corner Gas was so popular. Saskatchewan has a lot of stories to tell, and there is obviously an appetite for this type of content. The series premiere of Corner Gas Animated broke the record for the most-watched series premiere on The Comedy Network with over 360,000 viewers.
It’s somewhat surprising that nothing has come along to fill the vacuum left by the original Corner Gas, and with the release of the animated series so far not living up to the original, the thought that nothing will fill this niche is disheartening. The lack of a replacement to Corner Gas is less representative of a lack of interest and more indicative of an industry issue.
Jack Thompson / Sports & Health Editor