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Rather than review individual seasons or series of Corner Gas I want to just cover an overview of the full run. The show is a fantastically written look at characters that could have been rife with cliché but went above thanks to great writing. There is constant teasing of the show pulling some hackneyed sitcom tripe only to twist into something off the wall and funny. There were always the cut away fantasy pieces they loved to pull off as well, which were cleverly done and always inventive.

The show opens with Lacey, a Toronto resident (or big city gal) moving to the tiny, rural Dog River, Saskatchewan, to reopen her deceased aunt’s café, making her a de facto main character. But like any really great ensemble program she quickly becomes one of many great characters. She befriends titular gas station owner Brent, his childhood man-child friend, Hank, Corner Gas employee, wiseass and sometime scholar, Wanda and Brent’s parents, Oscar and Emma. Lazy but likeable small town cops Karen and Davis round out the cast. From here essentially nothing happens for the next four seasons. Which is OK, it’s about small town life and really exists as a framework to house the aforementioned characters.

A number of very small adventures take place (Brent and Hank trying to get their childhood tree house back, Oscar and David roofing, etc.) and there is a great deal of bickering (the hated town of Wulerton, job switching incidents, “phone tag” style story confusion) but all are minor ways to carry the characters forward. It would be easy to break each of them down to a simple one word descriptor (Oscar is cranky, Hank is slow, Wanda is acerbic) but each episode builds on that in some way, giving them depth and insight, contrast and substance. A good example is the fishing trip episode. Hank, who suffers a dearth of respect in Dog River, is transformed by his escape into fishing into a kind of mystic guru, drawing others to his simple homilies of wisdom.

Up to the final episode the show offered no real change for any of its characters, as none of them were ever destined for change. Nothing in Dog River is meant for change, which makes the twist in the final episode first a touching bookend, recalling the calamitous change of the first episode, then more of a funny prank when the reveal comes. Corner Gas ended before it could become repetitive, going out on a small high note, assuring it would stay with you. 4 ½ stars for the series

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