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Television John Doyle: Say Yes to the Dress and the glory of frock opera

Now me, I haven't been to a wedding in years. But I do enjoy the bridal shopping experience every week.

It is totally true. On a regular evening when I've done the dishes and finished the ironing, I'll relax with an episode of Say Yes to the Dress. (Sometimes it's Four Weddings Canada, which is outrageous, simmering with snark, but that's another story.) The SYTTD franchise is one of reality television's great triumphs. There's a genius to it.

A bride-to-be and her entourage go to the store to buy a wedding dress. That's it. Except, of course, there are latent dramas that burst to the surface that are compelling stuff. There's the bride's mom. How many times have we seen mom – a lot of people watch this show, believe me – go quietly ballistic because the dress is too sexy, too poofy or too darned expensive?

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Well, people, say yes to Say Yes to the Dress Canada (Wednesday, W, 10 p.m.), the wildly anticipated Canadian version. It is peachy. It is adorable and delivers everything you want from SYTTD. These mini frock operas of passion, desire, family dynamics and delusions are exquisite entertainment.

Two episodes, back-to-back, air Wednesday. We are not at Kleinfeld in Manhattan, the original home of the show, nor at the Kleinfeld that opened in Toronto last year. We certainly aren't at Bridals by Lori in Atlanta, the alternative venue. Instead, Say Yes to the Dress Canada films at Amanda-Lina's Sposa Boutique in Toronto's notoriously splendid suburb of Woodbridge. It's as Canadian as all get-out while sticking to the template that makes SYTTD so successful and enjoyed internationally.

The first bride we meet is Natalie from Ajax, Ont. Her fiancé's name is Joseph. They were together years ago, it didn't work out, and then they got back together. Joseph is described by Natalie as "Amazin'." She doesn't say he's her soulmate, which tends to happen a lot on the U.S. version.

Anyhoo, the episode's theme is "men on deck," so it's all about guys getting their say in the bridal shopping racket. Natalie's pal Leo is the issue. He's there because he's "stylish" but also a guy, so, you know, he's got advice to give. Turns out Leo likes the cleavage, and only the cleavage, on one of Natalie's picks.

And then there is the very sweet story of Amber, 30, from Kitchener, Ont., who brought her parents and her brother, Chad. It's the brother who is willing to pay for the dress, up to $5,000, because he's close to her and very supportive. He remembers taking her by the hand on her first day at kindergarten. Get out the Kleenex, people.

Amber tries a drop-waist ball gown, which is very flattering on her, shall we say, but her brother Chad says it's not poofy enough. Things proceed. Amber tries another one, and it's a hit! Amber says, "Ooh, it's poofy and I feel like a princess!" Chad beams. So Amber's happy with what I believe is an Eve of Milady silk/satin ball gown that goes for four grand.

Meanwhile, Natalie's situation requires Joseph the bridal stylist to intervene. This is crucial. On the original SYTTD the star is Randy Fenoli, who fixes problems, pronto, with his wit and guile. Joseph, the Canadian version, is no Randy clone, and way more calm than Monte on SYTTD: Atlanta, who is mostly unhinged. Joseph knows just what to do – he jacks her up. (Look it up, people, it's a vital term to know.) And of course, the climax is the question, "Are you saying yes to this dress?" followed by a squealing, "Yes!"

On episode two, at 10:30, the theme is preconceived notions. And, oh my, there's a mom who cannot stand strapless gowns. Because, obviously, that means ladies are pulling up the dress over their bosoms non-stop. Can this preconceived notion be overcome? You'll have to watch. It's great entertainment.

Airing tonight

Citizen Marc (SuperChannel, 9 p.m.) is a feature-length documentary (by Roger Evan Larry and Sandra Tomc) about Marc Emery, the notorious "Prince of Pot." It deftly presents Emery as he wants to be seen – a brave David slaying the government Goliath on the matter of legalizing marijuana; a cool guy, a force for good and a Canadian patriot. Then it presents Emery as the opportunist he is, someone with a grandiosity that is breathtaking, and someone who saw a chance to gain fame and launch a possible political career. Thing is, he pretty much owns up to everything. A very strange doc about a very strange man. All times ET. Check local listings.

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