- Network: CBC
- Series Premiere Date: Jan 1, 1991
- Starring: Graham Greene, George Buza, Peter Keleghan
During his days of stage touring with his wife, and on the briefly-lived sketch comedy they performed him, Steve Smith created the rough draft for a character: The embodiment of the male ego. He named the character Red Green, after Canadian hunter and fisherman, Red Fisher, and usuallyDuring his days of stage touring with his wife, and on the briefly-lived sketch comedy they performed him, Steve Smith created the rough draft for a character: The embodiment of the male ego. He named the character Red Green, after Canadian hunter and fisherman, Red Fisher, and usually appeared in a cluttered room, wearing a rubber duck on his hat, sitting on a picnic table, and speaking in a somewhat throaty voice. He would comment on countless stereotypical Canadian activities and incorporate them into the stereotypical male activities. The character proved popular with audiences.
In 1991, CHCH, a television network in Hamilton, offered him an opportunity for a series. Smith decided to take the offer, but concluded that if this show flopped, he would leave television altogether (he had previous efforts, such as his role as the father of his real sons, "Me and Max", his sons Max and Dave playing themselves and Morag playing the wife/mother, as well as multiple roles; among them was Steve's character "Uncle Red). He collaborated with his friend, Rick Green, about it. They decided to make a show about "being outdoors", when it occurred to them Red Green was just such a character. With a little character fleshing and a backdrop, this show just might make it. Rick would direct, Steve would write, and they would both produce. And who would Rick play? A certain character he had performed on radio and television named Bill, a wacky, slapstick character, almost a living cartoon who never stopped talking. As a twist, on the show, his voice was almost never heard. He only appeared in black and white segments titled "Adventures with Bill." And his last name? In a moment of irony- Smith.
The "plot" (or lack thereof) was that Red Green was the leader of Possum Lodge, a men-only resort where they could generally goof off and be themselves. They were veritable stereotypes, yet with a certain flair and charm, which added to their wit. Red was the only remotely sensible one, but perhaps not much more competent. He was a true craftsman, and had a portion called "Handyman Corner" where he would take ordinary objects and, with the help of power tools and duct tape, would turn them into a unique variation of something already established. Rarely did they work. He also had countless monolouges where he would talk to "all you middle-aged" viewers. Among the regular residents at the Lodge were Dalton Humphries (Bob Bainborough), the owner of "Humphries's Everything Store" and possessor of the worst marriage and family imaginable. Another was Winston Rothschild III (Jeff Lumbly), a friendly, inherited millionaire who ran a septic sewage sucking company. Mike Hamar (Wayne Robson) was the neurotic former criminal on parole, and Hap Shaunnesy (Gordon Pinsent) was the aging riverboat owner, who reminsced about wild, unbelievable adventures. Bob Stuyvesant (Bruce Hunter) was a golf-playing, multiply-married Natural Resources inspector, and Buzz Sherwood (Peter Wildman) was a wild pilot who was still a hippie. Garth Harble (Derek McGrath) was the local nature specialist, and Dougie Franklin (Ian Thomas) was the Southern American, owner of the world's largest trucks. There were also recurring roles, such as Aboriginal actor Graham Greene as explosives "expert" Edgar K.B. Montrose and Peter Keleghan as Ranger Gord, who started the series living in a fire-watch tower, deprived of human relationship. It was the general incompetence and helplessness of the overweight beer-drinkers that made up most of the humour, coupled with Red's dry wit.
The show didn't originally have great ratings and was eventually cancelled after three seasons. Fortunately, however, Global picked it up in 1994, re-naming it "The New Red Green Show", raising the budget, and adding a new, completely unique star: Red's nephew, geeky city boy Harold, played by television star and Second City alumnus Patrick McKenna. He wore a large, guitar-like video device which he used to remotely control the cameras. Red generally traded barbs with Harold, but kept him because he needed his technological skills to produce the show. Harold was generally unliked by the other lodge members, and wasn't very attractive, either: He wore glasses and a retainer, had a nasal, high-pitched voice, and generally looked awkward.
The Global run brought two elements to The New Red Green Show that proved valuable vehicles for McKenna's Harold character. One was the "Possum Lodge Word Game," a send-up of Bob Stewart's Pyramid, begun in 1995 and still in practice. Harold emceed as Red and a fellow lodge member competed for cheap prizes. (Usually Red gave the clues and people such as Dalton or Mike would make nowhere near the correct guess.) The shorter-lived fixture, first seen in 1996, was "Men Anonymous," in which lodge members talked of how they tried to act less like men. While "Men Anonymous" didn't last, Red and the others did hold on to that group's "Man's Prayer":
I'm a man,
But I can change
If I have to,
The 1996 season was notable as well for the absences of Edgar Montrose and Ranger Gord. (At the time, Peter Keleghan was starting The Newsroom for the CBC).
Global aired "The New Red Green Show" until 1997, when the series was axed and sold to CBC for a hefty price. On CBC, its title was restored to "The Red Green Show" and many aspects of the original program were restored. One new element was Red's fix-it segment called "If It Ain't Broke, You're Not Trying," where lodge members would bring broken items and Red would usually apply duct tape somewhere. However, in the ensuing two years some drastic changes were made. Rick Green left to devote his time and energy to his cable-based sketch comedy/satire "History Bites" (in which Bainborough is a regular performer), Derek McGrath left to perform in "Doc" and Pat McKenna also departed to spend more playing the maniacal oppressor Marty Stephens on the Toronto stock market drama "Traders", and with them their characters vanished. Replacing Bill was ambitious youth Walter (Joel Harris), who wasn't quite as manic as Bill. His black-and-white bits introduced a gimmick rarely seen on "Adventures With Bill": Regular characters (besides Red) frequently appeared sharing Walter's escapades. Once McGrath parted paths with the show, a new animal control officer was needed. By the end of the 1998 season, Jerry Schaefer joined the cast as a more regular character than McGrath was, in the form of paranoid Ed Frid, who adapted Harble's gimmick of holding a wild animal in a bag, but instead of being ignorantly confident, he was constantly worried about them and would always make up a wild half-truth about their destructive abilities. Harold, however, who had found urban employment and moved to the city, would occasionally guest star, either visiting his beloved cousin or or vice versa (if Red were to visit Harold it would usually involve some legal or technological situation).
That same year also featured Mike's Teen Talk and the first year for Ranger Gord's animated Educational Features.
Things changed yet again for the 11th year of The New Red Green Show because Harold returned full time and has been a regular ever since.
The show also finally saw a replacement for Glen Brackston as Dwight Cardif became the show's Marina Operator.
The 13th Year saw a welcome surprise as Bill rejoined the show for six Adventure Segments.
Another recent feature is Talking Animals with Ed Frid and the return of Ranger Gord's Animated Shorts for the 5th year.
The New Red Green Show has been running on PBS since 1995, airing all the Global and CBC shows. Only in the highlight special "We Can't Help It, We're Men" did PBS audiences see clips of the CHCH days.
"Remember, I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."
"Keep your stick on the ice!"… Expand
- Genre(s): Comedy
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