Hello from Halifax, where they make a lot of TV.
Possibly, if you’re reading this in the morning somewhere, I’ll be having breakfast at Smitty’s, which is kind of obligatory. Then a rush of interviews, visits and asking nosy questions.
There are several series closely associated with this neck of the woods – This Hour Has 22 Minutes, Mr. D, Trailer Park Boys, to name just a few. At this minute I can’t say exactly what will unfold on my visit here. But there is news to report.
The seventh season of Trailer Park Boys concluded in 2008, and then came the second TPB movie, Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day. (A third is coming next year.) This year, our heroes Julian, Ricky and Bubbles took over the endeavour from the original producers to proceed online.
A full season eight has been made and will be found soon on their new Internet channel, SwearNet.com. Visitors to the site should be careful. You get the full TPB treatment there. There’s more swearing going on in one paragraph than was heard in the PMO’s office every time Mike Duffy’s name came up.
The online season is, of course, something of a gamble, but a good one. (It may yet appear on television.) It will cost about four bucks a month and 40 bucks a year to enjoy again the antics of the main characters. And if they’re smart, it will follow the essential template – Ricky (Robb Wells) and Julian (John Paul Tremblay) get out of jail every season and return to thieving, smoking dope and getting drunk. They have some scheme. It goes awry. They bicker, but Bubbles (Mike Smith) is the guy who holds them, and everything, together. Their nemesis is Jim Leahy (John Dunsworth), the permanently drunk supervisor of Sunnyvale Trailer Park. That’s about it. Original creator Mike Clattenburg told me once that TPB is “about finding peace, friendship, love and affection, no matter how low the circumstance.”
And on the subject of online experiment from out here (well, Prince Edward Island), I urge to you check out Just Passing Through (justpassingthrough.ca), a small work of genius that I’d guess was inspired by Trailer Park Boys. Online only and made by PEI filmmaker Jeremy Larter, his brother Jason Larter and Geoff Read, it’s hilarious and more cutting than many of the slick sitcoms made for Canadian TV in recent years.
A crazy blend of TPB, Goin’ Down the Road and Three’s Company, it’s about two desperadoes, Terry and Parnell Gallant, leaving PEI in search of “wicked jobs in Alberta.”
A mom brays, “You think you’re too friggin’ good for PEI now, doncha? Yeah, doncha?” Our ne’er-do-wells (played with aplomb by Dennis Trainor and Robbie Moses) have high hopes of finding wealth in Alberta. After all, one of them has a two-week certificate in forklift operation.
They get stuck in Toronto, where they camp in the home of cousin Owen (Tyler Seguin) and cause havoc. A splendid satire of life in Toronto ensues. It’s brilliant stuff.
Now I need to go find some people who make TV here. More later.
The Secret Disco Revolution(Bravo, 9 p.m.) is Jamie Kastner’s eccentric, smart look at the disco era. There are interviews, rarely seen footage and a narrative based on the idea of disco as cultural revolution. There are interviews with disco legends including the Village People, Gloria Gaynor, Kool and the Gang, KC and the Sunshine Band and others. And astonishing footage from inside Studio 54. A scholar says Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby was “the musical expression of the feminist critique of three-minute sex.” Moving on to the Village People and their nourishment of gay-themed music and style, she calls that “a psychic intifada against the rules of gay life before gay liberation.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly suggested that Trailer Park Boys Season Eight will be available online only. Access to the series has not been decided by the producers yet.